Raising Chickens for their Eggs
If you are looking simply for quantity of eggs then choose the leghorn chicken. We like the Araucana chicken for the colored eggs it lays (shown at left). By crossing an Araucana with a leghorn you can increase your egg yield and still maintain the colored shell. The color of the egg does not have any effect on the quality of the egg inside. The feed that your chicken eats will have a large effect on the egg. It is especially important to let your chickens roam so that they can eat ants and other insects. This helps give a vivid yellow yolk with superior taste. There is a myth that fertilized eggs are not good to eat and have a small embryo inside them. In fact, when a hen lays eggs she will continue to lay at about an egg a day until she has a nest of about 20 eggs. During that time the eggs are dormant. The baby chicks will not start to develop until the hen broods, or starts sitting on the nest. Eggs also are laid with a coating that maintains the eggs freshness if not washed until just before eating.
We also raise guinea fowl. Their eggs are small with a hard almost non-breakable shell. When incubating their eggs, keep the humidity high and carefully help them out of their shell once they have made the first crack or hole. In general guinea fowl hens are poor at successfully hatching a brood as they are very noisy and make their nests out of the coop. The predator will generally find them before the chicks are hatched. If the hen does have asuccessful hatch she will frequently lose interest if you move the nest with hatchlings into the coop. Handle the chicks and eggs with glove and as little as possible to avoid transferring your smell.
Ducks lay large eggs which are characterized by a thin shell, dark yolk and large egg white.
More information on U.S. standards for poultry and eggs can be obtained from The Poultry and Egg Institute at http://www.poultryegginstitute.org/ or The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association at http://www.poultryegg.org/