If you’re looking to become self-sufficient, as many people are when they start homesteading, then choosing a great chicken breed should be one of your first steps. Chickens are low maintenance farm animals which can provide both meat and eggs, BUT not all breeds are created equal! Humans have breed them for specific purposes, and you’ll need a dual-purpose breed – so here are the best chickens for meat and eggs.
This friendly bird is a brown egg layer, and it’s a record setting layer! One chicken in Australia laid 364 eggs in one year. Though more realistically, many keepers of this breed claim they get about 5 eggs per week from one of their chickens. These birds also reach a very good meat size of 5-8 pounds – making them one of the best dual-purpose breeds. They’re also good mothers – allowing you to easily hatch more birds.
So, what’s not to love about this chicken breed? Some keepers say that they top-out at around 2 years of age before their egg laying capacity begins to drop. However, they will start laying at 5 months or so, and they lay very well in the winter months as well when egg production normally suffers with other breeds.
The original Plymouth Rock chicken breed, other familiar breeds like the buff rock and white rock descend from this bird. They are very friendly, and they are also cold-hardy – making them a great choice if you live in a colder state. You’ll also be able to get 200+ eggs per year out of these birds, and they reach an attractive 7.5 to 9.5 pounds – making them a great size for a dual-purpose chicken. This is a brown egg layer.
Rhode Island Red
This familiar bird is a great dual-purpose bird, and unlike some of the others, like the Black Australorp, it’s much easier to find in the United States since it’s a “native” species. It’s one of the most popular brown egg layers around, and you can expect to get 200-300 eggs per year – which is fantastic for egg production.
People love the Rhode Island Red for a variety of reasons, including it’s heritage, familiar appearance, superior egg production, and extremely friendly demeanor. Though you’ll also like the fact that it reaches a good dressing weight of 6.5 – 8.5 pounds.
This giant chicken breed will lay 150-200 large/extra large eggs per year, and it reaches an adult weight of 10-13 pounds! This makes it one of the largest dual-purpose breeds around and it can be a good pick if you want more harvest per animal. These birds are also calm and easy to handle – making them a good bird to have for a family setting as well.
The Jersey Giant is also a great free ranger, which saves on your feed costs, and they are excellent mothers. Not to mention, the adult version is a very beautiful chicken, but the babies are adorable little black and yellow fluff balls.
Don’t need a bird that is quite so big? A Wyandotte will top out at around 6 pounds, which is still a nice size. They will also lay 200 or so large brown eggs every year – giving you solid egg production for a small family.
These birds are quite cold-hardy, making them a solid choice in colder states. They are also good foragers and you’ll be able to drop your feed costs by allowing them to free-range on your property. However, these birds are much smaller and you’ll need to be wary of predators looking to make an easy meal of your beautiful birds!
Tanya is a stay at home mom who blogs online to earn a bit of extra income from her hobbies. She also loves working on projects which she can involve her two kids in and teach them the valuable life-skill of sewing.