Chickens offer succulent and healthy meat, can provide a steady supply of protein-rich eggs, and they even make great pets. Although different breeds and different individual chickens are unique, certain breeds are considered much larger than others. These breeds are especially useful if you want to breed chickens for their meat or egg production, or simply because you prefer your chickens to be on the large side.
Below, we have listed 15 of the largest breeds of chicken and tried to put them in order of largest first, although there will always be some disagreement between proponents of certain chicken types.
The 15 Largest Chicken Breeds
1. Jersey Giant
While there might be some argument over breed sizes lower down the list, there is no debate at the top. The Jersey Giant is the largest chicken breed in the world – and a friendly giant of a breed at that. He is often kept as a pet because he is so amiable, gets along with children, and some owners may struggle to prepare him for the dinner table.
The Jersey Giant was first bred in New Jersey, by John and Thomas Black, for their size. Now recognized by the American Poultry Association, the Jersey Giant usually has black feathers but is also accepted as white or blue.
2. Brahma Chicken
The Brahma is something of a traditional breed of chicken. An exceptional Brahma may grow as large as the biggest Jersey Giant, but the breed tends to average a little less than the top of our list, hence the second-place position.
Another area where the Brahma rivals the Jersey Giant is in amiability. The Brahma is friendly. This, combined with their inability to fly well, means that they are an easy breed to keep.
3. Cochin Chicken
The Cochin’s 12-pound average weight may not be as much as the Brahma, but it was one of the varieties used to breed the giant bird.
Coming from China and Vietnam, the Cochin was introduced to the Western World in the mid-19th Century, causing demand for chickens to increase significantly at the time. More recently, the Cochin has been bred for looks as well as utility, and he now sports an impressive coat of fluffy feathers.
4. Cornish Game Chickens
The Cornish Game Chicken, as the name suggests, come from Cornwall in the UK. They are a docile breed, except when pushed by other chickens and then they can turn quite aggressive. They do not lay as many eggs as other breeds, but they do lay consistently, which has made them a popular laying breed.
They are self-sufficient chickens, more than capable of foraging for their food. They come in a variety of colors and color points, and they do require more space than the average chicken breed.
5. Buff Orpington Chickens
The Buff Orpington is the forerunner of the modern utilitarian breed. They were not raised for their good looks, but for their practicality, and although they might be considered slightly larger than average in size, they are considered to be excellent chickens to keep.
The Orpington is docile, do not get agitated around other birds, and because this is another breed from England (Kent), they also survive well in a cold climate. The Orpington, which is also available with black feathers and called the Black Orpington, may not do as well in hot weather.
6. Dong Tao Chicken
The Dong Tao is a rare breed that originates from Vietnam Vietnam. They are highly prized for their high-quality meat, but they are not considered a good breed for laying.
The Dong Tao is ungainly, growing up to 11 pounds, and has large feet and legs. They are likely to stomp on and break the eggs before you have a chance to get in and remove them, which is obviously not a desirable trait for an egg-laying chicken.
The Maline is another breed that has been bred to be comfortable around humans, and this makes them a popular breed for home chicken breeders. They usually have an attractive cuckoo style coat, although they can come in a variety of different colors and patterns.
While they feature 6th in our list of large breeds, they do produce large eggs, and this combination makes them a popular breed. They are easygoing, they do get along with other animals, and they are quite willing to befriend children and other humans.
8. Malay Chicken
The Malay Chicken is quite different from the previous breeds. For a start off, he is considered an aggressive chicken that is unlikely to get along with other animals and may well attack people.
Also, while the previous breeds have been moderate to good layers, the Malay Chicken only lays during the laying season and lays only a few eggs at a time.
They have thick bones but are taller than the average chicken and are considered to be an excellent source of chicken meat.
9. Australorp Chicken
The Australorp is an Australian bird that is related to the Orpington. The rooster grows quite large while the hen can lay as many as 300 eggs a year, and this combination has seen the breed making a strong reintroduction to US shores.
The breed is hardy, can forage for food and fend for itself, and it is docile so makes a good choice around other birds and near the house.
10. New Hampshire Red
The New Hampshire Red is a relatively new breed of chicken, having only been bred for the past 100 years or so. The rooster can grow to around 9 pounds, while the hen will produce approximately 200 eggs a year.
While there are more prolific layers, the New Hampshire Red’s eggs are large, and the popularity of the bird’s meat has seen these become popular breeding birds. They are considered aggressive, and they will attempt to rule the roost, however, so they will need their own space to live.
They were bred to mature quickly, and the unique mix of features makes these a great choice for farms and breeders.
The Langshan is a friendly chicken breed that lays several times over a year and can be considered a good egg producer. They are also quite friendly birds, although this will depend on the individual bird itself. They are also skilled foragers, which means that they can develop a sense of independence, but they will require plenty of room to roam.
In terms of looks, the Langshan is unusually jet black. They are very tall, although they may not grow as heavy as other breeds.
12. Rhode Island Reds
Rhode Island Reds originate from Rhode Island. They are a large breed, and their meat is considered good tasting, and they lay regularly and in decent quantity, so they are prized as laying birds too. They have been bred to be independent, so they are capable of foraging for food and they are hardy to cold climates.
There are two distinct lines of Rhode Island Red chicken: the industrial breed that is bred for egg production, and the heritage line. The heritage line of Rhode Island Reds is closer to the original birds that were brought over by European settlers.
13. Delaware Chicken
Another friendly breed, the Delaware is an egg-laying machine, producing up to 300 eggs a year. This makes up for the fact that the breed does not grow as large as many of the others on our list. In fact, the Delaware will usually only grow to a weight of around 8 pounds.
Despite being quite small, the breed grows and matures quickly, is friendly enough to be kept near the house, and despite its relatively small size, it produces popular broiler meat that gives another good reason to take on this particular breed.
14. Barred Rock Chicken
Like the Langshan, the Barred Rock is probably best known for being a prolific and efficient egg layer. Both the rooster and the hen are considered friendly and outgoing, and you can expect nearly 300 eggs a year from one of this breed. As well as making good layers, their friendly disposition means that the Barred Rock can make a good pet.
The Barred Rock has barred white and black feathers so they have an attractive and distinctive look, too.
The Belgian chicken is not heavy, but what he lacks in weight, he more than makes up for in height, muscle, and aggression. He can grow as tall as 30 inches.
The Belgian was first bred for fighting and he retains this ability today. Thankfully, there has been a global decline in sport fighting, but this does mean that the Belgian chicken is now considered a rare breed.
- Related read: Do Chickens Fart? (Causes & Considerations)
Most of the chickens in our list weigh over 8 pounds, which means that they tend to popular for their meat production. However, some breeders have created multipurpose chickens that not only produce a lot of meat but also lay a lot of eggs. Some are also friendly and make good pets. Some are considered rare breeds that are not readily available today but will prove popular with breeders looking for rare and unusual chicken variants.
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Featured Image Credit: ArtistLens, Pixabay