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Dual Purpose Breeds

Dual Purpose Breeds

Dual Purpose Breeds

Probably the most common type of breed to have in a backyard is one that can be raised for both egg production as well as meat production. While these breeds do not produce as many eggs as the egg-layers nor as much meat as the meat birds, they do offer a nice middle ground.

One of the major advantages to the dual-purpose breeds is that any excess males will have decent breast muscles and may be butchered for meat. In contrast, if you are raising egg layers, the male chicks are unlikely to develop an appreciable amount of muscle as they mature, so butchering does not yield much benefit.

When you raise dual-purpose chickens, you can hold on to your hens so they produce eggs for your breakfasts, and you can butcher the male birds at maturity so they produce meat for your dinners. Though these breeds are not the best egg layers or the most efficient meat producers, the nice aspect is that there is a role for all of the birds you hatch.

Breeds known as dual-purpose share the following characteristics:

  • Produce 3-5 eggs per week
  • Grow to 6-7 lbs in weight
  • Low efficiency of converting feed into eggs or muscle tissue

If your goal is to have both eggs as well as chicken meat, the alternative to raising dual-purpose chickens is raising some meat birds and some egg layers. This approach will yield more efficiency, meaning your egg layers will convert feed more efficiently into eggs and your meat birds will convert feed more efficiently into muscle.

Even if dual-purpose chickens aren’t the most efficient breeds, they do offer you the most flexibility. Hence, they are the most common breeds found in backyards across the country.

The most common dual-purpose breeds include:

  • Barnevelders: Decent dark brown egg layers, slow growing but good sized meat birds
  • Brahmas: Good brooders that lay brown eggs, slow growing but large sized meat birds
  • Orphingtons: Good brooders that lay brown eggs, grow into large meat birds, and forage well
  • Plymoth Rocks: Lay medium sized brown eggs, grow into good sized meat birds, calm disposition
  • Wyandotte: Lay brown eggs, grow quickly into large meat birds, calm disposition
  • Rhode Island Reds: Proficient layer of large brown eggs, good sized meat bird
  • Faverolle: Lay medium sized off white eggs, good sized meat bird
  • Black Sex Link: Proficient medium sized egg layer, good meat bird, can be color sexed (hybrid)
  • Red Sex Link: Proficient large sized egg layer, good meat bird, can be color sexed (hybrid)

Like many things in nature, nothing is guaranteed. But, the following table highlights what to expect from the various dual-purpose chicken breeds.

Dual Purpose:

Type of Chicken
Egg Production
Bird Size
Good Brooder
Cold Hardy
Class
Breed
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
Egg Color
Egg Size
Below Avg
Average
Above Avg
< 3 per week
3 - 4 per week
5+ per week
< 5 lbs
6 - 7 lbs
7+ lbs
American Chantecler 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
American Delaware 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
X
American Dominique 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
X
American Holland 
X
White  Large
X
X
X
American Java 
X
Brown  Medium
X
X
American Jersey Giant 
X
Brown  X-Large
X
X
American Plymouth Rock 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
X
American Rhode Island 
X
Brown  X-Large
X
X
American Wyandotte 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
X
Asiatic Brahma 
X
Brown  Medium
X
X
X
Asiatic Langshan 
X
Brown  Medium
X
X
X
Continental Barnevelder 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
Continental Crevecoeur 
X
White  Medium
X
Continental Faverolles 
X
Cream Medium
X
X
X
Continental La Fleche 
X
White  Large
X
Continental Welsummer 
X
Dark Brown  Large
X
X
X
English Australorp 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
X
English Dorking 
X
Cream Medium
X
X
X
English Orpington 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
X
English Sussex 
X
Light Brown  Large
X
X
X
Medium New Hampshire Red 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
X
N/A Star 
X
Brown  Large
X
X
Other Naked Neck (Turken) 
X
Light Brown  Medium
X
X
X

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