Farm Animals as Pets

The Best 10 Dual-Purpose Chicken Breeds for Eggs and Meat

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Anna studied psychology, law, English, and animal welfare in college. She is a mother of two and a 2019 bride!

Why Choose a Dual-Purpose Breed?

Many birds that are bred to be good table birds will lay few eggs. Many hens haven't been bred for the purpose of egg-laying or providing a family with meat, especially now that chicken shows are becoming vastly popular. But dual-purpose chickens have been bred to produce the best quality of meat and eggs.

Families who can keep, raise, and harvest produce (whether animal or vegetable) off their own land can benefit from and enjoy many facets of the process. You can choose how your hens are fed and what life they lead, which means happier birds and better food for you! I never went back to shop-bought eggs—home-grown are always the best!

1. Light Sussex Hens

Light Sussex hens weigh around seven pounds and are renowned as excellent table birds as well as good egg-laying birds—typically laying around 250 medium-sized cream or light brown eggs a year.

They are usually white with black tails and some black feathering around their necks (although other colour varieties such as red are available).

This breed is also well-known for its hens being wonderful mothers who will raise as many chicks as they can at once.

2. Wyandottes

Wyandottes are beautiful birds that will lay up to 240 brown eggs a year and, like the Light Sussex breed, were bred as dual-purpose chickens who make great table birds due to their flavour and size, which is typically around six pounds.

3. Orpingtons

Buff Orpingtons are heavy birds, with the hens sometimes weighing over 10.5 pounds (more commonly weighing about 8.5 pounds).

They go broody often and make great mothers, however these hens will lay slightly fewer eggs than some of the other dual-purpose breeds, with 200 large brown eggs a year being average. This is because these chickens have been selectively bred for show rather than specifically for meat or egg-laying.

4. Plymouth Rocks

Plymouth Rocks are beautiful birds that are available in eight colours and lay roughly 260 large brown-pink eggs per year.

The hens weigh around 7 pounds and make excellent dual-purpose chickens.

This breed has influenced many others for its size, docile nature, and egg-laying capabilities.

5. Brahma Roosters

Brahma chickens are one of the largest breeds in existence, with hens weighing around 10 pounds and cockerels about 12 pounds.

They lay around 200 brown each year and do very well in cold climates because of their size and heavy feathering. However, they do require extra care because of the feathering on their feet which needs to be kept clean or the chickens may lose nails and even toes, which can become infected and be fatal to the bird.

6. Delaware Chickens

Delaware chickens originated from the US and are currently listed as a rare breed.

The hens weigh between 6.5 and 8 pounds and lay up to 200 large eggs a year.

They look similar to the Light Sussex breed but have fewer black markings.

Again, the hens do tend to go broody, but in general make excellent homestead birds.

7. Ixworth Chickens

Ixworth chickens are very good layers, laying around 240 eggs a year. They also make good table birds as they weigh around 7 pounds.

They are a British breed which is now classed as rare.

They are beautiful, pure white birds that do very well if they are allowed to roam free-range.

8. Marsh Daisy Chickens

Marsh Daisy chickens are extremely well-suited to the free-range lifestyle.

They are hardy and strong birds who are excellent foragers and great mothers.

The hens weigh around 5.5 pounds and lay roughly 220 eggs per year. However, the cockerels of this breed are known to have heart problems and some will not live past 3 years of age.

9, Cochins

Cochins are very similar to Brahma chickens: They are huge birds, with hens averaging at about 10 pounds in weight, and they are renowned for their excessive feathering, meaning they can survive cold climates and harsh winters.

These hens will lay you around 200 large eggs per year.

10. Transylvanian Naked Necks

And last but not least, the Transylvanian Naked Neck. As the name suggests, these birds have no feathering whatsoever on their necks. Despite their unusual appearance, they are often kept as dual-purpose as they have meaty bodies, weigh up to 8.5 pounds, and are immune to nearly all diseases.

They will lay around 220 eggs per year and the eggs are large and brown.

They are also fine in colder temperatures, despite their bald necks.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Do you have chickens? If so, what breeds?

DebMartin on June 02, 2014:

I used to have chickens but moved to the bush. Too many predators here. I used to have Barred Rocks. I also had a few Ancona. They would come running when they saw me get out the rake.

Melanie Paige from Adelaide, South Australia on May 26, 2014:

Helpful lens :)

My Dad has 9 acres, 11 laying chickens ( some orange and others white, can't recall the breed though) and 4 broody chickens (silky cross something), and they're allowed to roam free during the day.

The sheep love it too, as do the new baby lambs (which are so adorable!). He also grows his own fruit and veg when possible, though it's still early yet, almost a year since we moved there. Organic, home-grown food is always best, as well as fresh eggs :)

Anna (author) from chichester on May 22, 2014:

@takkhisa: We have 34 hens and 2 cockerels :) - they did well considering we started with 8!!! Thank you for visiting :)

Takkhis on May 21, 2014:

Interesting topic! Loved it very much. Well, I don't have any chickens now but I used to have when I was a kid. How many chickens do you have? I am just curious to know. :)

BodyHairRemoval on May 14, 2014:

Very interesting lense on chicken breeds!

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on May 12, 2014:

My plans are to start with three of the more docile breeds. I am interested in the egg laying capacities (moderate is fine with me). I do like the Buff Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, and Americaunas.

Deborah Carr from Orange County, California on May 10, 2014:

Fascinating info about chickens!


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