There are hundreds of chicken breeds found all over the world, and not all breeds serve the same purpose. Some were originally bred as broiler chickens that were specifically harvested for meat. Other chickens are exceptional egg layers. Dual-purpose chickens can do both and lay eggs and are harvested for meat.
We’ve developed a list of some of the best meat chickens and it contains a mix of broiler chickens and dual-purpose chickens. Many of these breeds thrive in backyard farms, so if you’re interested in raising chickens, make sure to keep reading to get to know these breeds.
The 15 Best Meat Chicken Breeds
1. Cornish Cross
The Cornish Cross is one of the most well-known meat chickens. More often than not, the chicken meats packaged in grocery stores are often various types of Cornish Crosses.
These broiler chickens were bred to grow quickly for harvesting. To this day, they’re popular and favored amongst commercial producers because they grow and gain weight much faster than many other chicken breeds.
Cornish Crosses can also grow as backyard chickens but caring for them can be a bit of a challenge. They’re rather slow and not very hardy. They’re also not the best free-range chickens, so they need a lot of extra protection. These chickens also eat a lot of food in a short period of time, so they’re more suited for large commercial environments.
The Bresse is a popular chicken breed because of its delicious taste. They can be expensive, but the cost is often worth it because of the quality of the meat.
Bresse chickens are very social and do well in large flocks. They don’t really enjoy being handled by humans, but they’re not known to be aggressive. They just prefer to be left alone to forage with the rest of their flock.
The Bresse originated from France, and it’s still a cherished bird to this day. In fact, a chicken is only considered a true Bresse if it was raised in the Bresse region.
Buckeyes are a hardy breed of chicken that can live in cold climates. They’re also fairly healthy and are able to resist most diseases. These qualities make them popular chickens for backyard farmers.
Buckeyes are dual-purpose chickens, so they lay eggs and are also harvested for meat. These chickens can lay about 200 eggs per year. Although they can take some time to reach maturation, it’s worth the wait. Buckeye meat is often described as nutty and tastes exceptional when it’s brined first.
The Chantecler is a dual-purpose chicken that originated from Quebec, Canada. It’s a hardy breed that can endure the harsh Canadian winters, and these chickens tend to have calm and gentle temperaments.
Chantecler hens are great at laying eggs, but they’re also popular for their meat because they mature more quickly than other breeds. They’re great free-range chicken and enjoy foraging. They don’t require too much special attention, so they’re an ideal breed for backyard farming.
5. Croad Langshan
This chicken is known as a dual-purpose breed. One Croad Langshan can lay about 150 eggs a year, but it’s most often bred and raised to be harvested for its meat.
Croad Langshans originated from China. They’re known for their white meat, which has a particularly white color and is rich in flavor. They’re also on the larger side, so you can harvest a good amount of meat from them.
These chickens may look intimidating with their dark plumage and bright red combs, but they’re actually quite docile, calm, and friendly.
The Delaware chicken is a dual-purpose breed. It can produce about 100 to 150 eggs a year and also grows relatively quickly. They’re often ready to be harvested within 16 weeks.
Delaware chickens can be assertive at times, but they’re more known for having friendly temperaments. They’re intelligent and inquisitive and don’t mind the company of humans. They’re also relatively hardy and aren’t known to be susceptible to specific kinds of diseases. Many people end up enjoying having them as backyard pets.
The Dorking is a charming and rustic–looking bird with a docile personality. They’re not known to be aggressive and shouldn’t be placed with aggressive chickens because they won’t really know how to defend themselves.
Dorkings also don’t do well in colder climates and prefer staying in warmer areas. They can produce about 140 eggs a year, but they’re more well-known for their meat. Dorking meat is naturally very tender and flavorful.
Since Dorkings aren’t the hardiest chicken breeds, they do require a little bit more attention so that they can grow healthily. However, they’re still popular because of their great temperament.
8. Egyptian Fayoumi
The Egyptian Fayoumi is an interesting bird with unique plumage, and they make an impressive addition to any backyard farm. They tend to be smaller than other dual-purpose birds and can produce about 150 eggs a year. They also mature pretty quickly.
These chickens aren’t known to be aggressive, but they also don’t like to be handled. They’re quite hardy, resistant to diseases, and are relatively independent. They’re also quite tolerant of heat, so they’re a great choice for beginner chicken farmers.
9. Freedom Ranger
The Freedom Ranger is a prized broiler chicken. Although it doesn’t mature as quickly as other fast-growing broiler chickens, its slowed-down growth rate ends up producing deliciously flavorful and tender meat. However, due to its small size, it doesn’t produce a lot of meat.
This chicken breed is rather calm and can be friendly towards people. They’re not very aggressive and prefer to run around free-range and forage for bugs and grasses. They’re also quite good at taking care of themselves and don’t require too much attention.
10. Ginger Broiler
The Ginger Broiler is a great bird for beginners to raise. They’re hardy and resistant to diseases, and they’re even tolerant of high altitudes. These chickens can stay active on their own and don’t need very much special attention. They aren’t afraid of humans and tend to have friendly temperaments.
When it comes to flavor, the Ginger Broiler doesn’t taste as flavorful as other broiler breeds, but the meat still tastes good and clean.
11. Jersey Giant
True to its name, this chicken is a large breed that was originally bred in attempts to replace turkeys. Their large size makes them popular for commercial farming. However, backyard farmers can also enjoy keeping them around. They grow pretty slowly, but they also produce a lot of meat.
In general, Jersey Giants are healthy and hardy. They also lay a good number of eggs, so you can still have something to look forward to as you wait for these chickens to grow.
12. Kosher King
The Kosher King grows slowly and doesn’t produce an abundant number of eggs or meat. However, the meat is extremely flavorful and well worth the wait.
These chickens are highly active and hardy and enjoy staying out on pasture. If you’re raising Kosher Kings in your backyard, make sure that you set up secure boundaries because these curious and smart birds will be able to find a way out. They love to forage and don’t mind exploring new territory in the process of looking for food.
13. New Hampshire Red
New Hampshire Reds are relatively large dual-purpose birds that can lay a decent number of eggs and produce delicious meat. They also grow pretty quickly and are ready to harvest within 16 weeks.
These chickens are hardy and can withstand cold weather. They tend to be more independent and don’t tend to approach humans because they prefer to be left alone. They’re also known for being broody and quiet, and males can be aggressive if they feel threatened.
The Orpington is a large breed that can reach 10 pounds. While their sheer size would make them appear to be broiler chickens, Orpingtons are actually dual-purpose chickens. They tend to grow at a slower rate than Cornish Crosses, and they can lay about 200 eggs a year.
Orpingtons are gentle giants and don’t have an aggressive streak. Many people enjoy having them as pets because they don’t have any particular aversions to humans. Orpingtons are also happy to forage and don’t need a high-protein diet.
The Turken is an interesting bird with a bare neck. It kind of looks like a cross between a chicken and a turkey, but it’s a pure chicken. These birds were originally bred to have bare necks to make them easier to pluck and cook. Turken meat is quite delicious, and these birds can also lay large brown eggs.
Despite its exposed neck, Turkens can do well in both hot and cold climates. Their good-natured, adaptable temperaments enable them to live almost anywhere.
There’s a good selection of meat chickens that beginner farmers and hobby farmers can raise. Many have easy temperaments and are hardy, so it’s not as stressful to create an environment where they can thrive.
The chickens on our list are excellent meat chickens, and it’s worth raising a variety of them. You can end up harvesting different types of chicken meat and have a special experience in tasting their unique flavors and textures.
Featured Image Credit: Linas T, Shutterstock