Dual Purpose Chickens
Dual Purpose Chickens
Dual Purpose Chickens are the best egg laying hens combined with the best meat chickens. The truth of the matter is that there are plenty of chicken breeds that are good for both purposes. As the name itself suggests, they have two-fold purpose of being the best laying hens and meat chickens.
Dual purpose chickens are ideal for small scale production or backyard flocks since these chicken breeds are healthier and more resistant to diseases. As such, they require less care when compared to the purebred chicken breeds. Another benefit in raising dual purpose chickens is that they are excellent foragers. Since free ranging them is both convenient and even recommended, feeding them with commercial feeds becomes supplemental and thus very economical.
The following are some of the best dual purpose chicken breeds that you should consider if you want to start raising chickens for eggs and meat:
Best Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds
Rhode Island Red Chicken Breed
This chicken breed is known for their prolific egg laying abilities and hardiness. The Rhode Island Red chicken breed was developed by poultry farmers in a small village in Rhode Island in 1830. The breed is often considered as the most successful dual purpose chickens in North America and may be the world’s most widely distributed chicken breed.
The bird’s feathers are rust-colored but some also come in maroon and dark colors bordering on black. A single laying hen can lay in the range of 250 eggs per chicken annually, which makes it the best laying hen of the dual purpose chickens. Its size and body conformation makes it a good table bird as well. The roosters weigh in at 8.5 pounds and hens weigh at about 6.5 pounds.
These birds are excellent foragers when free ranged and their very friendly and docile temperament makes them ideal pet chickens. Winter season might be a problem for some chicken breeds, in terms of egg production, but is not a problem for Rhode Island laying hens who will continue to lay eggs even when temperature significantly drops.
Wyandotte Chicken Breed
First appearing in 1870, the Wyandottes are great laying hens and provide delicious meat. They are docile but vocal, so your backyard will never lack lively clucking throughout the day. Wyandottes come in a variety of colors—17 in all—making them fantastic show birds. Wyandottes can come in blue, black, red, silver laced, blue laced and golden laced.
Laying hens can lay anywhere from 200 to 240 eggs per chicken in a year and can weigh anywhere from 6 to 8.5 pounds. If you’re a beginner, you might want to choose Wyandottes for your dual purpose chickens, since they are friendly and docile. What’s more, you can either free range them or confine them in a run and they will fare well either way.
Plymouth Rock AKA Barred Rock Chicken Breed
Often referred to as the “rock” or the “barred rock”, the Plymouth Rock chicken breeds are dual purpose chickens that originated in the USA. The Barred Rocks are valued for their meat and their egg laying qualities. There are seven different varieties of the Rock, namely the Barred, Blue, Buff, Columbian, Partridge, Silver-penciled and White. These chickens are very versatile and can easily adapt to different environments. They are also hardy and resistant to diseases and because of this a backyard breeder can save a lot of money if he decides to free range them. The Rocks are also excellent foragers.
Plymouth Rocks are cold hardy dual purpose chickens that have fluffy feathering which allows them to withstand cold and allows them to continue to lay eggs during the winter season. They also make good meat chickens because of their robust body size. The rooster can weigh in the range of 9.5 pounds while the hen weighs at an average of 7.5 pounds. You’ll definitely have deliciously hefty chicken drumsticks with the Plymouth Rock!
New Hampshire Chicken Breed
The New Hampshire chicken breed traces its ancestry to the Rhode Island Red. This variety from New Hampshire possess a massive body, grow feathers fast, and their laying hens make very good mothers. They are also known to be prolific layers of large brown eggs with an average of 120 eggs per chicken in one year.
The adults come in rich chestnut red and are attractive birds. Roosters weigh around 8.5 pounds and laying hens reach 6.5 pounds. Early maturing, hardy, and very adaptive to various climates, this breed is ideal for small scale and backyard chicken raisers. The New Hampshire chicken breed can be aggressive and competitive but they handle confinement well.
Araucana Chicken Chicken Breed
If you want a chicken breed without a rump but are still prolific egg producers and make good meat birds, the Araucana is the right breed for you. This breed is also known in the US as the South American Rumpless, but it traces its roots to Chile. And here’s what makes them even more interesting: They lay blue eggs! Rumpless dual purpose chickens that lay blue eggs are definitely an attraction in your backyard!
With the roosters weighing 7.5 pounds and laying hens around 5.5 pounds, the Araucana makes an excellent meat chicken. When kept well, they can lay 180 to 200 eggs per chicken in a year. However, if you are planning to hatch and raise them, the Araucana is better suited for more knowledgeable breeders (or beginners willing to do the necessary research), as a certain gene can cause them to die while still in their shells. Hybrids, however, are available.
Caring for Dual Purpose Chickens
As mentioned above, dual purpose chickens are easy to care for. Most of them can be free ranged if you so choose. However, adequate housing facilities must always be provided to give them shelter during inclement weather. Make sure that they have a steady supply of water in their containers throughout the day and even if you allow them to forage, you must always give them grains and other feeds as supplement. Feeds can be given once in the morning and another ration in the afternoon.
Nothing beats raising dual purpose chicken breeds. Not only will you have a steady supply of eggs for breakfast, you will also have the best tasting, most nutritious meat anytime you desire. The satisfaction of being able to “grow” your own food is incomparable.