The Best 10 Dual-Purpose Chicken Breeds For Eggs And Meat
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 hens weigh around 7lbs 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 it's hens being wonderful mothers, who will raise as many chicks as she can at once.
Everything You Need to Keep Chickens
Silver Laced Wyandotte
Wyandottes are beautiful birds, which 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 6lbs.
Buff Orpington Hen
Buff Orpingtons are heavy birds, with the hens being capable of weighing over 10.5lbs, but they are more commonly around 8.5lbs. 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 showing, rather than specifically meat or egg-laying.
Barred Plymouth Rock
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 7lbs and make excellent dual-purpose chickens. This breed has influenced many others, for it's size, docile nature and egg-laying capabilities.
Brahma chickens are one of the largest breeds in existence, with hens weighing around 10lbs, 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 need 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 chickens originated from the US, and are currently listed as a rare breed. The hens weigh between 6.5 and 8lbs, 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 chickens are very good layers, laying around 240 eggs a year, and also make good table birds as they weigh around 7lbs. 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 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 5.5lbs 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.
Cochins are very similar to Brahma chickens - they are huge birds, with hens averaging at about 10lbs 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
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 8.5lbs and are immune to nearly all diseases. They will lay you around 220 eggs per year and the eggs are large and brown. They are also fine in colder temperatures, despite their bald necks.