When we committed to raising chicks for our homestead, we decided we wanted birds that could not only produce eggs, but supply meat as needed. Many chicken breeds are egg-cellent for laying (yep, I went there) and others are great for meat, but which breeds should you rely on if you want the best of both worlds? Here are four of our top-picks for best dual-purpose birds for the homestead:
Laying around 250 eggs a year, the Australorp is a reliable laying breed that holds its own against the most prolific of layers. Roosters grow to approximately 8.5 pounds while hens generally reach 6.5 pounds, and because they grow reasonably quickly, they are an ideal choice for meat as well.
2. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red has developed a great reputation as a homestead bird. Though there is speculation as to how many eggs to expect per year, you’ll find that they generally fall somewhere between 200 and 300 eggs. Similar to the Australorp, Rhode Island Red males weigh in at about 8.5 pounds and females will top out at around 6.5.
3. Plymouth Rock
Coming in at third on our list is the popular Plymouth Rock which can lay around 200-250 eggs annually. In addition to being a great layer, hens will reach a reasonable weight of approximately 7.5 pounds. Better yet, roosters can grow to a healthy 9.5 pounds. The Plymouth Rock is a classic dual-purpose breed.
While Orpingtons are more modest layers compared to our other dual-purpose favorites, their yearly egg production isn’t mediocre by any means. They lay between 175 and 200 eggs per year, and a few dozen eggs is a small price to pay when you consider that a female Orpington can reach an impressive 8 pounds. If that’s not convincing enough, an adult rooster can weigh in at 10 pounds.
There are several other breeds out there worth considering, but these are four of the best dual-purpose chickens and also the breeds that we chose for our own homestead. If you have any other questions or thoughts, please let us know in the comment section below.
Want to know more about these and other chicken breeds? Check out this handy reference guide from The Livestock Conservancy: