Raising chickens for eggs and meat is one of the most rewarding ways to ensure that you and your family stay fed and healthy.
We will explore a list of the top ten largest chicken breeds best suited for your family’s survival.
The American Poultry Association recognizes over 53 large chicken breeds. Not all 53 of these breeds are a good choice when you’re looking for maximum meat and egg production.
We’ve researched all 53 of these chicken breeds and even raised some of them on our own to come up with a list that will provide you with ten of the best large chicken breeds to choose from.
Some of the chicken breeds we include in our list are great meat birds, some are more geared toward large egg production, and the rest have a little bit of both worlds when it comes to egg and meat production.
Take a look at the descriptions for each chicken breed, and see if any of them seem like they’d be a good choice for your homestead.
- Cornish Cross
- Jersey Giant
- American Bresse
- Rhode Island Red
- Leg Horn
Cornish Cross Chickens
The best large chicken breed for meat production is the Cornish Cross, commonly known as broiler birds. Cornish chickens are the most common for meat production in the world. The only downside with this breed is that they grow too quickly to become egg producers.
Cornish chicken is a popular choice for meat because of their ability to quickly convert feed to meat. With only around 15 pounds of feed input, a Cornish chicken can be harvested around 6 to 8 weeks, weighing an average of 4 pounds once processed.
If your family is looking for a fast-growing bird to grow throughout the year, then the Cornish chicken breed will be a great choice for you. Cornish chickens are unmatched when it comes to maximizing the amount of meat you’ll get from each chicken.
The Orpington Chicken breed is considered a dual-purpose breed by the agricultural community. There are several different color varieties within the Orpington breed, but they share the same traits for eggs and meat production.
One of the best traits of this chicken breed is that the hens will lay 200 to 280 large, brown eggs per year. Orpington hens will be prolific egg layers until they’re around 2 or 3 years old. At this point, they can be processed and used for meat.
Jersey Giant Chicken
Jersey Giant chickens are aptly named birds, created with the sole intent of producing a large breed to produce meat. Once full-grown, Jersey Giants can produce hens up to 11 pounds and roosters up to 15 (and yes, you can eat rooster meat)! There’s no denying this is a large chicken breed. It is the largest chicken breed on our list.
Jersey Giants are not only docile but great foragers too. The hens will produce beautiful large brown eggs, but one of the downsides of this breed is that they don’t lay eggs until eight months of age.
The meat of a Jersey Giant chicken is tender and plentiful, and you’ll receive the best quality of meat if processed by six months of age. Any longer and the meat will become tough, though still flavorful.
The Brahma chicken is another dual-purpose, large breed that produces quality meat and can lay up to 4 eggs per week. These birds reach around 8 pounds for hens and 10 pounds for full-grown roosters.
A Brahma chicken is considered a particularly hardy bird, which can keep egg production consistent throughout harsh winters. So if your family lives in a climate with long winters, then Brahma chickens could be a good fit to keep you and your family fed.
Malay chickens are one of the largest chicken breeds imported from Asia. They’re not particularly powerful egg layers, and their meat production is quite average for their size. The reason these birds made our list is that they’re survival experts.
The Malay chicken is a skittish and flighty bird that tends to be more aware of its surroundings than other chickens. Malay is the tallest chicken breed, which helps them keep a watchful eye on their surroundings. Adding a few of these birds to your flock can serve in helping alert other chicken breeds to predators.
If you are more concerned with taste than production, the American Bresse chicken breed may be right for you. These birds originated in France, where they were bred for their ability to feed and distribute meat and fat in a particularly unique and delicious way.
They have a decent growth rate, with males and females reaching slaughter weight at around 16 weeks. A well-fed Bresse with access to forage will weigh in at 4-5 pounds for a hen and 7 to 8 pounds for roosters.
American Bresse chickens mature more quickly than other chicken breeds. You can expect them to begin egg production about a month earlier than other breeds. If your hens have a quality coop and are happy and well-fed, they’ll lay around 4 to 5 eggs per week.
Rhode Island Red Chicken
This large chicken breed is renowned for its impressive egg production capabilities. An average Rhode Island Red chicken will lay about 200 brown eggs per year, but if you have a high bird that produces on the higher end, you can expect closer to 300. They reliably lay appealing dark brown eggs that have a large, rich yolk.
The Rhode Island Red Chicken is a dual-purpose bird, meaning they’re not just an impressive egg layer, but they also have tasty meat. The meat is best when harvested by six months of age, and you can expect to get an average of 4 pounds of meat per bird that you process.
Ameraucana Chickens are known primarily for the unique color of their eggs. They can range anywhere from army green to pleasing light blue. They lay as many eggs as 250 per year, ranking high on our list for large breed egg production.
While they’re technically a dual breed bird, their meat production is lacking compared to others on our list. Besides their ability to lay many eggs, this chicken breed is also known for its propensity to go broody.
Broody hens will sit on a clutch of eggs until they hatch. Ameraucanas are particularly useful if your family is looking to breed chickens without the hassle of an electric brooder.
The Leghorn chicken breed is the most sought-after for its egg-laying capabilities. These large chickens can lay up to 320 eggs per year if conditions are favorable. They have a docile personality and make a great dual-purpose bird considering their impressive size.
Leghorns come in a variety of colors. However, the white leghorn has the highest egg production and tends to outgrow its colorful counterparts.
Female Leghorns will grow up to 11 pounds, and male Leghorns up to 13 pounds. Their size, coupled with their capacity for laying eggs, makes them a top contender for anyone looking to raise an egg-producing meat bird.
The last large chicken breed on our list is the docile and hardy Delaware Chicken. This breed hasn’t been around quite as long as the others we mentioned, but it was bred to be a fast maturing and dual-purpose bird.
You can expect about four eggs per week from Delaware Hens once they reach maturity at six months. The eggs are dark brown and range in size from large to jumbo. If you want to use these birds for meat production, they’re best processed at six pounds of live weight.
One of the best things about the Delaware breed is its resistance to extreme weather conditions. These birds don’t mind a cold winter or a severely hot summer. They’re happy to forage and won’t break the bank when it comes to feeding costs.
Which Breed Is Right for You?
Now that you’ve read through our list of the biggest chicken breeds for egg and meat production, we hope you’ve gained some clarity on which breed will suit the needs of you and your family. You can put several breeds out to pasture together until you get a better idea of which type of chicken you’d like to focus on growing.
Each of the birds we listed has the potential to benefit your homestead in one way or another. All that’s left is to source your birds and start raising your flock!