Chickens can be awesome for more than one reason. They are fun, and productive, provide us with breakfast, help us bake, and provide a healthy portion of protein. If you want dual-purpose chickens, it’s crucial to know what breeds are well-balanced and can get the job done.
Dual-purpose chicken breeds are a popular choice for those seeking versatility, as these breeds excel in both egg production and meat yield. This article will explore ten of the top dual-purpose chicken breeds, highlighting their unique characteristics and why they are excellent additions to any backyard flock.
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What Does Dual Purpose Mean?
I love chickens, and chickens are my friends. Thinking of eating one of my feathered friends disturbs my soul – but my family needs to eat. AND I want to know that what I’m feeding my family is not full of antibiotics, are well fed, and loved along the way. So it only makes sense that I need dual-purpose birds as part of my flock.
Simply put, dual purpose means that the breed of chicken can produce a good amount of eggs per year AND grow large enough to be a good-sized (and tasty) meat bird when the time is right.
What is a Heritage Breed?
Unlike commercial hybrid breeds (more on hybrids in a moment), heritage chickens have not undergone extensive genetic modifications for commercial purposes. Instead, they retain their natural characteristics, including hardiness, foraging instincts, and the ability to reproduce naturally.
One advantage to heritage breeds is, when it comes to hatching them, you know what you’re going to get from the heritage egg. Hybrids…not so much.
To be fair, even heritage breeds were developed by crossing other breeds. However, they maintain their reproduction predictability and hardiness.
Read up on heritage breeds in this article we wrote: Top 7 Heritage Chicken Breeds Our Grandparents Kept
What is a Hybrid Chicken?
Hybrid chickens, also known as crossbreeds or commercial hybrids, are the result of intentional crossbreeding between two or more specific chicken breeds.
These crosses are carefully designed to combine desirable traits from different parent breeds, such as high egg production, rapid growth, disease resistance, or specific meat qualities.
The breeding process aims to maximize productivity and uniformity, resulting in chickens that can reach maturity quickly, have consistent traits across the flock, and meet the demands of the modern poultry industry.
Hybrid chickens are widely used in commercial farming operations due to their predictable performance, efficiency, and ability to meet market demands for eggs and meat.
Heritage or Hybrid For Dual Purpose Use?
Just like I love old antique things, quaint little farm houses, and stories from the simpler past…I love heritage chickens. I think it’s essential to keep the pure bloodlines alive because there are some good, hardy chicken breeds out there that I don’t want to see on the endangered list.
HOWEVER, there is nothing wrong with crossing breeds to enhance certain traits. There is definitely a place for hybrid chicken breeds and I love them just as much as the heritage breeds.
In other words, we need both. And as far as which is better for dual-purpose use – well, I personally think there are far more heritage breeds that meet the dual-purpose requirements.
Read about ten of the top dual-purpose chickens next.
Ten of the Top Dual-Purpose Chickens
This heritage chicken originated in Delaware in the 1940s by crossing Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens. They’ve been important in creating modern broiler breeds, and for a while were the most popular meat chickens in the Mid-Atlantic area largely because of their color.
Delaware females lay between 100 and 150 large brown eggs per year. They might not be as good as championship egg-laying breeds, but they are certainly no slouch when it comes to egg productivity.
Read more about the Delaware breed here: Delaware Chickens – Nearly Extinct (Looking for a forever home!)
2. New Hampshire Reds
New Hampshire chickens shine bright when it comes to being a great meat producer that also lays a good amount of eggs. They were crossed with Rhode Island Reds, which is part of the reason they look a lot alike.
Rhode Island Reds have stolen the spotlight over the years much like the older, prettier sister can do. But if you take a closer look at New Hampshires, you may scratch your head in wonder over this overshadowing.
The reason the egg-laying ability, of 200 to 280 brown eggs per year, is notable is that they are a fast-growing variety that is appealing for meat production as well. Being a good layer that also displays rapid growth makes them an amazing dual-purpose breed.
Here is a fun article about New Hampshire Reds. There is a super fun story about a competition they were involved in. Don’t miss it. New Hampshire Chickens – Fast Growing Superstars
3. Plymouth Rock
With popularity stretching back to before the Wild West was tamed, these fluffy butts are one of America’s oldest breeds. And in case you are wondering if a Barred Rock and Plymouth Rock are the same breed or not…they are not (not exactly). In reality, the Barred Rock is just one Plymouth Rock chicken recognized variety; in other words, it is a variation of the standard breed.
It’s an excellent dual-purpose bird. Their large size Is ideal for meat production. It also boasts fine egg-laying capabilities and a single hen can produce 200 eggs per year. These days, they’re also kept as pets, and in breeding programs that want to raise sex-linked chickens.
Read more about this awesome breed here: Plymouth Rock Chickens: Buyer’s Guide
While not the largest chicken breed, Wyandottes are fairly substantial with roosters weighing in at around 8 to 9 lbs and the hen at 6 to 7 lbs. This weight makes them a good dual-purpose breed as well.
They are egg happy chickens that lay around 200 to 250 medium eggs a year. Pretty good.
There are many varieties of Wyandottes! There are too many Wyandotte chicken colors to mention here, but trust me when I say there are a LOT of colors to choose from. All of which are good dual-purpose birds.
Find out more about this gem here: Wyandotte Chickens: Buyer’s Guide
While Brahma chickens are known for growing into beasts the size of large turkeys, giving it the nickname “The Majestic One” by the American Brahma Club, and the equal honor of the name “king of all poultry” (due to its size and vigor). However, the average Brahma isn’t quite that large.
Regardless, they are big enough to make a nice family meal and they produce about 300 eggs a year. Win-win my friend.
Read up on this large and friendly breed: Brahma Chickens: What To Know Before You Buy!
7. Speckled Sussex
Sussex chickens have historically been raised by chicken keepers as a dual-purpose breed (for both eggs and meat), although many people today raise them as beautiful pets.
Speckled Sussex hens lay about 260 light brown eggs per year, and are consistent layers. The size of the egg depends on the hen; ours lay medium-sized eggs.
They are a heritage breed, which means they pretty much had to be hardy to survive long ago before all the modern care conveniences.
Learn more about this unique breed: Speckled Sussex Chickens – Gorgeous, friendly, productive, and so much fun to own!
Faverolles are a French chicken breed. They take their name from the French village that they were first bred in, Faverolles, which is about 50 miles northeast of Paris.
It is thought that Faverolles are a genetic mixture of Houdon, Brahma, Crêve-Cour, Dorking, and Cochin chickens. Like most breeds with a long heritage, Faverolles were first bred for the dual purpose of eggs and meat.
Back in the day they took to close confinement better than other breeds. This quickly brought them to the forefront of the poultry market. Plus they are good egg layers.
Dive into details here: Faverolles Chickens
Originating in the United Kingdom, Orpingtons are a heritage breed that’s well-loved because of their calm nature, beautiful plumage, and functional purposes. There are several varieties of Orpingtons, such as the Buff Orpington and the Lavender Orpington. They are all equally as great.
Orpingtons are just a good all round bird. Friendly, lay about 280 eggs per year, and have a good meat yield. Plus they do well in just about any climate. That’s a recipe for dual purpose. They have been a favorite of homesteaders for many generations.
Read up on Orpingtons here: Buff Orpington Chickens: Buyer’s Guide
10. Black Sex-Link
Black sex link chickens are a hybrid mix that results by crossing a pure-bred barred hen and a pure-bred non-barred rooster. For example, crossing a Barred Plymouth Rock hen with a Rhode Island Red rooster will result in sex-linked chicks.
They will be some of the best egg-layers around. With good care, they have been known to produce 300 eggs per year.
An added bonus of this particular pairing of chicken is the size. The Black Sex Link results of this pairing are large enough to serve as meat chickens. Once your Black Sex Link hens have exhausted their eggs, they will make a sizable addition to your dining needs.
Find out more about this fascinating breed here: Black Sex Link Chickens: Buyer & Care Guide
Dual-purpose chickens are the superheroes of backyard flocks, bringing the best of both worlds – great eggs and tasty meat. In this article, we dive into the top ten breeds that excel at laying eggs while packing some serious meaty goodness.
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned chicken keeper, these breeds will make your backyard flock productive and useful. Get ready for eggs and meat that’ll knock your socks off!
Are you mostly looking for excellent meat birds? AND are you wanting your chicken to taste more like the store bought chicken you are used to? If so, you might want to consider Cornish Cross chickens.
We have a very informative article about Cornish Cross chickens. Learn all you need to know in this article: Cornish Chickens of All Kinds – What’s the Difference?
More Chicken Dual Purpose Breed Articles
- Jersey Giant Chicken — A Giant Bird With A Giant Fan Club
- Dominique Chickens – Vintage Breed That Fared Well Through The Great Depression
- All About Australorp Chickens and Where To Buy Them (Black Australorp)
A happy wife, mother, teacher, writer, hobby farmer, lover of chickens, and contributor to Pampered Chicken Mama!