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Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds
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.
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.
excellent meat bird and steady, but not as frequent layer as some of
the other dual purpose breeds here. Some individuals are prone to
Orpingtons are large
birds that are consistent layers with excellent meat quality. They are
well known for their good mothering skills and docile, affectionate
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.