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

Author:

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?

Dual-purpose chickens have been bred to produce the best quality of meat and eggs. Many birds who are bred to be good table birds will lay few eggs, and some 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.

I feel very strongly that families who can keep, raise and harvest produce, whether animal or vegetable, off their own land will enjoy it far better than those who do not, or cannot. You can choose how your hens are fed and what life they will lead, which means happier birds and better food! I never went back to shop-bought eggs for instance—home-grown is always the best!

Light Sussex Hen

Light Sussex Hen

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 she can at once.
Silver-Laced Wyandotte

Silver-Laced Wyandotte

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.

Buff Orpington Hen

Buff Orpington Hen

3. Orpingtons

  • Buff Orpingtons are heavy birds, with the hens being capable of weighing over 10.5 lbs, but they are more commonly around 8.5 lbs.
  • They go broody often and make great mothers, as do the other two breeds listed above, 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 meat or egg-laying.
Barred Plymouth Rock

Barred Plymouth Rock

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 lbs and make excellent dual-purpose chickens.
  • This breed has influenced many others for its size, docile nature and egg-laying capabilities.
Brahma Rooster

Brahma Rooster

5. Brahma Roosters

  • Brahma chickens are one of the largest breeds in existence, with hens weighing around 10 lbs, and cockerels about 12lbs.
  • 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 can lose nails and even toes, which can be fatal to the bird if this becomes infected.
Delaware Hen and Rooster

Delaware Hen and Rooster

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 lbs 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.
Ixworth Rooster and Hens

Ixworth Rooster and Hens

7. Ixworth Chickens

  • Ixworth chickens are very good layers, laying around 240 eggs a year and also make good table birds as they weigh around 7 lbs.
  • They are a British breed which is now classed as rare.
  • They are beautiful, pure white birds who do very well if they are allowed to roam free-range.
Marsh Daisy Hen

Marsh Daisy Hen

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 lbs and lay roughly 220 eggs every year, however, the cockerels of this breed are known to have heart problems and some will not live past 3 years of age.
Cochin Hen

Cochin Hen

9, Cochins

  • Cochins are very similar to Brahma chickens: They are huge birds, with hens averaging at about 10 lbs in weight, and they are renowned for their excessive feathering, meaning they can survive cold climates and harsh winters.
  • Hens will lay you around 200 large eggs every year.
Transylvanian Naked Neck

Transylvanian Naked Neck

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, but despite their unusual appearance, they are often kept as dual-purpose as they have meaty bodies, weigh up to 8.5 lbs 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!