Dual-purpose chickens are the best of both worlds. Their bodies are heavier than average laying breeds, making them well equipped for cold weather, but not so heavy that they can’t combat the heat of the summer. If you’re looking to add some hardy hens to your flock, consider these dual-purpose chickens.
Characteristics of dual-purpose chickens
Dual-purpose chicken breeds lay around 200 eggs per year, and have a sturdier frame than traditional laying breeds. Their moderate size makes them easy to house in a large chicken coop and chicken run, although they are well suited to free-ranging. Their diverse genetics make them excellent foragers, which provides their owners with adequate pest control.
There are many dual-purpose chicken breeds, but some are more common than others. Dual-purpose chickens can be obtained through breeders or hatcheries, or from individuals. This list is not exhaustive, but here are some of the most popular dual-purpose breeds that you’ll find in the US.
Australorps are one of the most prolific layers of dual-purpose breeds. They’ve been known to produce over 300 eggs each year, and grow to be 5-8 pounds. Australorps aren’t prone to broodiness, and reach laying age around 5 or 6 months old. They’re content in chicken runs and as free-range flocks, and will happily forage for their food.
This cold-hardy breed is one of the largest dual-purpose chickens. Brahmas have unique feathers that completely cover their legs and feet, giving them a furry appearance. This, along with their size, makes them very cold-tolerant. They grow to 9-12 pounds, but don’t produce as many eggs as other dual-purpose breeds, averaging 150-200 eggs per year. They are prone to going broody, and can cover a large number of eggs due to their size.
Faverolles are excellent layers that will produce even through the winter months. They mature quickly and can reach 11 pounds when full grown. Faverolles are alert, active birds that have small combs and thick feathering, making them suitable for colder climates. A quirky characteristic of this breed is the presence of a 5th toe on each foot.
As its name suggests, Jersey Giants are large birds, weighing between 10 and 13 pounds at maturity. They produce between 150-200 eggs per year, and are very protective mothers if they’re able to hatch eggs. Jersey Giants are cold hardy, but do require plenty of space due to their size.
Orpingtons are a favorite among chicken keepers. They are outgoing, friendly, and produce 250-280 eggs per year. Mature birds weigh between 8 and 10 pounds, and they’re prone to going broody. They prefer to free range and need plenty of space to keep fit. Orpingtons have a short wingspan and heavy bodies, so they do well behind fences.
Another favorite among keepers, Plymouth Rock chickens lay between 220-280 eggs per year. They’re heat and cold-tolerant and are easy to tame and full of character. Plymouth Rocks grow to be 7-10 pounds, and are excellent foragers. They make excellent pets for children due to their endearing personalities.
Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Reds are one of the most well-known breeds in existence today. Their egg-laying capabilities outweigh their size, producing between 200-300 eggs per year. These hardy birds do well in all climates, and mature birds weigh between 6 and 9 pounds. Rhode Island Reds are bright and alert while being quiet, making them great pets.
Another moderate-sized bird, Sussex chickens are reliable layers that produce between 180-250 eggs each year. Mature chickens weigh between 6 and 9 pounds, and come in beautiful varieties – the most popular being speckled. The docile nature of the Sussex makes them a good choice for children.
Wyandottes are beautiful birds that lay around 200 eggs per year. They are docile and come in a variety of colors and patterns, and grow quickly. Mature birds weigh between 6 and 9 pounds. Popular patterns that flock fanciers seek out include laced, partridge, and penciled.
Omlet and your dual-purpose breeds
Our large chicken coops are perfect for dual-purpose breeds. And for some extra foraging space, our chicken fencing is perfect for containing curious chickens to safe areas. Let your dual-purpose hens out of their house on their desired schedule with an automatic chicken coop door and never worry about them feeling cooped up. All of our expertly designed chicken products support your flock – no matter their breed.