Meat chicken breeds. Including hybrids and dual purpose types.

There are several breeds of chickens that are kept specifically for their meat production. While you could eat any chicken, even bantams, the time and effort required for the resulting meat means that most people choose to raise broilers.

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Broiler is another term used to describe chickens that are raised for their meat. This is a generic term that can refer to a variety of breeds.

What are the heritage meat breeds of chicken?

These are the original breeds that have been kept for meat. They are often poor layers of eggs and have large well rounded bodies with plenty of meat.

Heritage meat birds include the Ixworth, the La Bresse Gauloise and the Cornish.

Below: The La Bresse Gauloise, a heritage meat chicken. A breed I raise myself an am particularly fond of.

These birds grow quicker than regular chickens and in some cases bigger. Because these types of chicken spend longer on pasture they tend to be better tasting and more strongly flavoured.

Below: When processed heritage meat chickens look like this.

Sometimes these birds are too big to breed easily and some, like the Cornish, suffer from fertility problems.

What are commercial types of broiler?

Breeds in this category include the Freedom ranger, Ross Cobb and Hubbard.

These are modern commercially produced stock that can be finished in as little as 55 days under ideal conditions.

Below: When commercial hybrid meat birds are processed they look like this.

These birds give the best financial return as their feed efficiency is very high, they do lack flavour and texture however.

What are the dual purpose breeds?

A dual-purpose chicken is a breed of chicken that is bred to be used for both meat and egg production. These chickens are typically larger than egg-laying breeds and have a more meaty body type.

They are typically slower-growing than pure meat breeds, but they are also hardier and more adaptable. They are often raised on small farms or homesteads because they can provide both meat and eggs, making them a cost-effective option for families.

Below: Processed dual purpose chickens look like this.

Examples of dual-purpose chicken breeds include the Jersey Giant, Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Sussex, Orpington, and Wyandotte. These breeds are known for their ability to produce both a decent amount of meat and a good number of eggs.

They are also easily available and tend to be hardy and disease-resistant, making them a good choice for small-scale farmers and backyard chicken enthusiasts to rear at home.

List of all the chicken breeds kept for meat:


Cornish or Indian game.

(Heritage meat breed)

  • Developed in Cornwall, UK in the 1820's,
  • Calm and docile,
  • Fertility problems,
  • 100 to 140 tinted medium eggs per year,
  • Males weight up to 11 lb and the hens up to 9 lb.
  • Slower growing, ready from 18 weeks,
  • Excellent carcass quality,
  • Difficult and expensive to rear,
  • Don't do well in the cold.

Cornish Cross.

(Modern meat hybrid)

  • A hybrid that is a cross between a Cornish chicken and a White Plymouth Rock,
  • Grows super fast to final weight,
  • Good feed efficiency,
  • Easy to rear,
  • Can reach 7 lb by 9 weeks old,
  • Tender meat,
  • Can't be free ranged,
  • Do not do well in the cold,
  • Can get joint problems and heart issues,

La Bresse Gauloise.

(Protected french meat chicken)

  • Difficult to find,
  • Expensive to rear,
  • Exceptional flavour and texture,
  • Slow growing,
  • Has to be free ranged,
  • Average but seasonal layers,
  • Relatively poor feed efficiency.

Freedom Ranger

(Modern meat hybrid)

  • Modern meat hybrid bred to be free ranged,
  • Easy to get hold of in good numbers,
  • Moderate growth rate, ready from 9 weeks,
  • Sturdy and hardy chicken that does well in different climates,
  • Good feed efficiency,
  • Excellent choice for the backyard keeper.

Ross Cobb. Range of differently performing chickens.

(Modern meat hybrid)

  • Easily available commercial strain,
  • Fast growing, ready from 6 weeks,
  • Good feed efficiency,
  • Can be grown to a considerable size,
  • Not hardy in most places,
  • Can have joint and heart problems,
  • You can't breed your own.


(Modern meat hybrid)

  • Only raised for meat production,
  • Created by the Hubbard Hatchery in the early 20th century,
  • Large birds, with roosters weighing between 8 and 10 pounds and hens weighing between 6 and 8 pounds in 80 days,
  • Relatively hardy birds,
  • Known for being docile and friendly,
  • Excellent feed efficiency,
  • Can have joint and heart issues,
  • Readily available in large numbers,
  • Known for its good flavor and tender texture.


(Heritage dual purpose)

  • Traditional English table bird,
  • Produces a large carcass,
  • Exceptional meat quality,
  • Can be fattened easily,
  • Hardy chickens that like to free range,
  • Good eggs layer, up to 26 in their first year,
  • Easy to find and keep.


(Heritage meat chicken)

  • Ancient french breed known for its large deep brown eggs,
  • The meat is produced free ranged and prized for it's taste and texture,
  • Produces a large carcass, 10 lb is not uncommon,
  • Hardy and easy to rear,
  • Lays 200 eggs a year,
  • Ready from 30 weeks.


(Heritage dual purpose)

  • A hardy utility chicken from northern Europe,
  • Lays up to 200 brown eggs per year,
  • Ready from 30 weeks of age,
  • Produces a quality, well covered carcass of firm tasty meat,
  • Hardy and easy to keep,
  • Loves to be free ranged,


(Heritage dual purpose)

  • Tasty heritage breed often raised for meat,
  • Slow growing, takes a minimum of four months to be ready,
  • Hardy bird, good for cold climates,
  • Can be tough if incorrectly reared,
  • Poor feed conversion,
  • Average layer of 180 to 200 eggs per year,
  • Produces a large carcass.


(Heritage dual purpose)

  • The Orpington is a renowned heritage meat bird,
  • Heavy bird can produce a huge carcass,
  • Lays 180 eggs per year,
  • Easy to keep,
  • Hardy but doesn't do well in the heat,
  • Cockerels can be 12 lb when finished,
  • Easy to find and reasonably priced,
  • Poor feed efficiency,
  • Fattens easily when confined.



(Heritage meat chicken)

  • Bred to thrive in harsh conditions,
  • Medium sized meat bird topping out at 9 lb,
  • Average layer of up to 200 tinted eggs per year,
  • Slow growing, takes at least 120 days to be ready,
  • Rare and difficult to find.

Plymouth Rock or White rock.

(Heritage dual purpose)

  • A well known meat bird, the white rock was used in the creation of the Cornish cross,
  • Hardy and easy to keep,
  • Free ranges well,
  • Average feed efficiency,
  • Produces a large well covered carcass,
  • Good heritage flavour.

Rhode Island Red or white.

(Heritage dual purpose)

  • American breed that is known for both its meat and egg production,
  • A hardy bird that can withstand cold temperatures,
  • Likes to free range,
  • Good layers, can produce as many as 300 eggs in their first year,
  • Average sized bird when dressed,
  • Quality end result that is strong in taste.



(Dual purpose chicken)

  • Ancient breed of chicken,
  • Ready from 18 weeks of age,
  • Large wide body with excellent quality meat,
  • Good layers of large white eggs,
  • Hardy bird,
  • Known to be one of the best tasting chickens.


(Heritage meat bird)

  • The Brahma is primarily bred for meat,
  • A calm, easy-going bird well suited to colder climates,
  • Slow growing, can take 8 to 12 months to be ready,
  • Average egg producer.
  • Produces a very large and full flavoured bird.

Naked neck.

(Heritage dual purpose)

  • Better for warm environments, they don't do well in the cold,
  • Slow growing, ready from 18 weeks onward,
  • Good sized carcass with tasty and quality meat,
  • Average layers of large eggs,
  • Easier to process as they have less feathers,
  • Poor feed efficiency.


(Specialist bird known for its blue black meat)

  • Used medicinally in soup,
  • Meat is black,
  • Contains high levels of carnosine,
  • Very small, rarely dress out to more than 1 kg,
  • Expensive to rear,
  • Time consuming, 12 months to processing,
  • Not everyone's idea of a good eat.


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