Have you decided what chicken breeds to bring onto your homestead this year? Do you want meat, eggs, or both out of your flock? Cornish Cross and Rangers are good meat options and productive breeds like Leghorns are great for eggs, but did you know that you can raise dual-purpose chicken breeds that will give your family meat AND eggs in one?

Raising Dual-Purpose Chicken Breeds for Meat

Dual-purpose chickens may not be as fast-growing or as heavy as hybrid meat birds and may not reach the full egg production potential of a Leghorn, but they offer their own benefits. 

Choosing a dual-purpose breed allows you to:

What are Dual-Purpose Chickens

Dual-purpose chicken breeds are used for both egg-laying and meat production. These birds will give you a significant amount of eggs each year as well as being good-sized table birds. You can keep the most productive layers and butcher the remainder of the flock for meat and/or butcher the cockerels as soon as they reach processing age. 

*Keep in mind that these birds will take longer to grow out for meat than a breed that is used specifically for meat.

Factors for Choosing a Dual-Purpose Chicken Breed

When choosing a chicken breed, consider these factors:

Laying Age

Laying age is the age at which you can expect hens to start laying eggs. Most breeds will start to lay by around the 6-month mark, but this can vary. 

Eggs per year

Most dual-purpose chicken breeds lay a good number of eggs each year, but it is good to know the breed standard for egg production so you have an idea of how much to expect. 

Processing Age

Cornish cross birds are able to be butchered between 8-10 weeks of age. This is not true for dual-purpose breeds. The breeds that we will discuss in this post will take 16 weeks or more to grow out. 

Mature Weight

The mature weight of a chicken is just that, how much it weighs at maturity. Large breeds can lay upwards of 13+ pounds while standard breeds will be closer to 5-7 pounds. 

Foraging Ability

If you plan to free-range or pasture your birds, they will need to have a high foraging instinct so they can get nutrients from available plants, insects, and small animals. Many dual-purpose breeds are excellent foragers that are well-suited for free ranging. 


The livestock conservancy uses this description for heritage chicken breeds– “Traditional, historic breeds [that] retain essential attributes for survival and self-sufficiency – fertility, foraging ability, longevity, maternal instincts, ability to mate naturally, and resistance to diseases and parasites.”

Temperature Hardiness

Some birds are more suitable for hot climates and cold climates than others. Comb types, feathering, body size, and feathers on feet play into this.


If you want to hatch your own chicks without an incubator, then it is important to have a broody breed. You will want broody hens that will set and be great mothers to their chicks in order to add to your happy and healthy flock. 

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