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Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds

Updated on December 5, 2010

There are a number of different types of chicken, including egg laying breeds, meat breeds, show or fancy breeds, and dual purpose breeds.

Dual purpose chickens, which provide both good eggs and good meat, are generally the best choice for homesteads, small farms, or backyard flocks. Dual purpose breeds also tend to be healthier, more self-sufficient, and better foragers than many more highly bred and specialized breeds.

There are a number of different dual purpose breeds to choose from. Here is some basic information about some of the most popular:

Rhode Island Red

One of the most popular dual purpose breeds ever bred, the Rhode Island Red is what many people picture when they think of a chicken. Rhode Island Reds are best known for their egg laying ability, but they are true dual purpose birds who also make a good dinner. Hardy and friendly, Rhode Island Reds do not tend to be especially broody.

Photo by woodleywonderworks
Photo by woodleywonderworks

Barred Plymouth Rock

Another of the most popular breeds for small flocks, Barred Plymouth Rocks are friendly, cold hardy, and make good mothers. They lay plenty of large brown eggs and are also good meat birds. Other Rock breeds also make good choices for small flocks.

Araucana and Ameraucana

The famous "Easter Egg" chickens, who lay eggs in pale blues, greens, and pinks. (Ameraucanas lay blue eggs only.) Both are good dual purpose birds. Be aware that Araucanas are difficult to breed due to a lethal gene they carry that causes many chicks to die in their shells. This is not a problem with Ameraucanas. True Araucanas are rare as a result, but there are many hybrids (often described as Easter Eggers) who do not conform to breed standards.


A hardy, handsome bird, Wyandottes are great foragers. Generally easy-going, some Wyandottes have dominant personalities that can cause them to become aggressive.

New Hampshire

An excellent meat bird and steady, but not as frequent layer as some of the other dual purpose breeds here. Some individuals are prone to aggressiveness.

Buff Orpington

Orpingtons are large birds that are consistent layers with excellent meat quality. They are well known for their good mothering skills and docile, affectionate personalities.


Attractive black birds developed in Australia, Australorps are especially known as good layers, but make good dual purpose breeds as well. Like Orpingtons, from whom they are descended, they have calm, docile personalities.


A heritage breed, now endangered, Dominiques are famous for their excellent foraging and mothering skills. Handsome and hardy, they make good choices for both eggs and meat.


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      Rainbow Ranch Farms 3 years ago

      Basket of Eggs! We won the wire basket on a Facebook challenge, and we filled it with our fresh eggs over straw bedding. We posted the photo on our blog and we are very pleased to see it here displayed on a dual purpose chickens blog. Thank you! Keep up the great work and thanks for the awesome info on heritage breeds.