In this post we are going to take a look at 10 chicken breeds that you can rear for meat on your farm, small holding or even in your garden.
The Cornish Cross was developed by crossing Cornish and Plymouth White chickens. When you buy your chicken meat from retailers, it is likely to have come from Cornish Crosses. It is one of the most popular broiler chickens and they are favoured for many reasons, including their large size, rapid growth and flavoursome meat. You can expect the chicks to be slaughter-ready in 4-6 weeks. If you do decide to rear these chickens, keep in mind they require hefty feeding to sustain their large bodies and because they are a mixed breed, they cannot reproduce on the farm and new chicks will need to be purchased every year.
With the word ‘giant’ in their name, it is not surprising that these birds are one of the largest of all chickens and will therefore provide a grower with a fleshy, substantial carcass. This is the breed to consider if you are planning on small-scale, backyard rearing. While they are slow to mature, the docile nature and egg-laying capabilities of the hens makes them great backyard chickens. The Jersey Giants are also less sensitive to diseases compared to other breeds, like the Cornish Crosses.
If you are looking for a dual-purpose chicken that will provide you with eggs and meat, then Delaware chickens may be the breed for you. These chickens are a cross between New Hampshires and Barred Plymouth Rocks. The resulting Delawares are profuse egg-layers, with the added benefits of large bodies and tasty meat. These chickens also mature quickly and are fully grown within 12 weeks of hatching.
The New Hampshire chickens are another breed that offer the added benefit of egg-laying in addition to large, meaty bodies. Used to breed the aforementioned Delaware chickens, the chickens are harvest-ready in as little as 10 weeks after hatching. The hens are also excellent mothers, so you can potentially hatch your own chicks as well. This breed is further benefited by their hardiness and ability to withstand adverse environmental conditions.
If you find yourself wanting to rear chickens in France, then you may want to consider the Bresse. This French breed can only be classified as Bresse if they are reared in that country. Whilst this breed is very rare, it is renowned for its delicious and flavoursome meat. The Bresse chickens standout in a crowd, with their white feathers being starkly contrasted by their blue feet. This breed is relatively easy to raise and they have a docile nature. As purebreds, growers can even try their hands ate hatching and rearing their own chicks.
The Orpington chickens have broad bodies which provide growers with well-sized carcasses. Because they are relatively slow to mature and have a docile nature, these chickens are most-suited to small-holdings and backyard operations. Orpington chickens are good foragers and don’t need to be fed with expensive, high-protein feed. The hens offer the added benefit of being prolific egg layers. They are also good mothers so growers can try to hatch their own chicks as well.
These chickens were developed in Canada, so it is no wonder that they are one of the most cold-tolerant breeds available. The chicks mature relatively quickly, within 11-16 weeks of hatching. Until they become harvest ready, they can also supply a farmer with a steady supply of eggs as an added bonus. If you are looking for a chicken breed that is suited to free range conditions, then the foraging capabilities of the Chantecler could make it the breed for you.
This breed is a great choice for organic farmers looking to raise chickens on pesticide-free pastures. The chicks are harvest-ready 9 weeks after hatching, making them one of the fastest-maturing breeds. Freedom Rangers are resourceful and resilient, surviving pests and diseases far better than their Cornish Cross counterparts. Whilst the meat of these chickens is tasty and flavoursome, their bodies are on the smaller side and the carcasses will not be as large as some of the other breeds on this list.
Just like the Chantecler chickens, Buckeyes are suited to colder climates and can endure very cool temperatures. In addition to this, these chickens are not sensitive to many diseases and can easily adapt to most environments. Buckeye chickens are more suited to backyard rearing. Their slow maturity, taking up to 21 weeks after hatching, does not endear them to commercial farmers. However, if you do decide to rear this breed, not only will they provide you with high quality meat, but a decent amount of eggs as well.
By hearing the name alone, you would be forgiven to think this breed are a cross between turkeys and chickens. However, this is not the case. Turkens are easily spotted by their featherless necks. They tolerate cold environments just as well as they do warmer ones and can therefore adapt to most conditions. They achieve this by converting feed to body weight quickly. This characteristic provides growers with ample meat, and they will be further benefited by the egg-laying capabilities of the Turkens.
Check out this post for 10 chickens you can use for egg laying!