1. Speckled Sussex
2. Gold laced Wyandotte
4. Olive egger
I've also considered Buff Orpington and Bielefelder, but I'm not as sure on those.
I would vote for GLW, or OE. Marans eggs are awesome, but they can be spotty on egg production. I have heard the darker the egg, the less eggs per week. That being said, I love Marans and I'm raising a group of them to go along with the two I already have.
I may have posted this yesterday, but I love it. My second egg from our Golden Cuckoo Marans. It's about a #5 on the color chart. I'm hoping they get darker.
ETA: Lisa, let me know when you are ready to incubate a few of these and I will save them up.
I love love the Red Sex Link. Can't beat em for eggs, besides a leghorn. To those that don't look close, they look a lot like a RIR..to some I say..to some. I can see the difference..now.
I've had problems with the black sex link. Not my first one, was a sweetheart, but the other two I've tried since, were stinkers, not sure why, same goes for my Barred Rocks. Not sure. I know a lot of folks love the Barred Rocks for sure.
SS...lovers. Those chickens will talk your ear off. I have a friend that still has one that came from me. She is 4 yrs. old, and still lays 4 or 5 eggs a week.
If you want a LF broody, go with a Wyondotte..that's how I got started with my incubation, this girl freaked out, and thankfully I had that back up incubator people told me to have, just in case. As soon as they started peeping, she left that nest not to go back, as many times as I tried putting her back on. She was a sweet bird though.
OE's can go broody too, but oh those eggs!
I haven't had a Marans hen..yet. But that rooster I had for a while was a sweetheart. Will be getting some chicks from the guy that I got those eggs from during a hatch a long..pullets, blues, blacks, and splash, and he is going to put a boy in there for me. For free! Because I had a bad hatch. Wow. His birds and eggs win shows often. I'm excited. Eggs will be hatching in about a week and a half now. :)
Red, Speckled Sussex for my vote.
Bitsy, the bokeh in that photo of yours is quite nice, I can see that you are going to enjoy your new camera. It was a fine fall day… hope to enjoy many more before facing old man winter.
Best to all and your birds,
I try not to be an alarmist over things like this but I am being overun by finches. I know that they are less likely to carry it than say a wild duck but it still scares me. We are hopefully going to get around to putting bird netting over the run this weekend to stop them.