Top 3 Dual Purpose Poultry Breeds For Your Homestead

on January 30, 2015
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General flock (old)

*This is a post from last year that I wanted to reshare due to the many questions I have received this week from readers and people I know locally. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful.*

We’re farmers for the provision of our food, not as a hobby, so dual purpose poultry breeds are important to us because they produce both meat and eggs. Breed choice is one of those topics that every chicken keeper has definite feelings about. It’s just as important to consider as is the location, style, and construction of your coop and yard. The climate you live in affects your choice, since some breeds do better in colder climates than others. If you don’t want to butcher your chickens for meat, then you wouldn’t be concerned about dual purpose. We try to raise or produce as much for ourselves as we can, so dual purpose birds are our choice.

One time I was sharing about the breeds we have here on the farm and the way we feed them. A lady in the group asked a question about my breed selections. As I was answering her, a man said, “I am sick and tired of hearing people talk about the ‘old timers’ and how they did things. We don’t have the same birds or feed they did.” I must admit he took me back a little. In my best southern voice, I replied, “Well, bless your heart.” Being from the south, he understood exactly what I meant! The truth is, when we choose heritage or rare breeds, we are carrying on the preservation of the very same breeds that many of our ancestors had. I have two breeds that my grandmother had and yes, I do feed them like she did. She did not have GMOs, or organic vs non-organic to be concerned about like I do. What feed I do buy is non-GMO, organic feed just like hers was and most of their feed is from their free ranging and garden waste,  just as hers was. So yes, you can have the same breeds and feed them the old timers’ way. Besides, I don’t think chickens change with the times…just sayin’.  🙂

That being said, what breeds are the best dual purpose birds and why? Remember, these are my choices and I don’t mean to leave out your favorite girls!

Black Australorp Rooster1) Black Australorp: This bird ties for my favorite.  I love this friendly bird as did my grandmother. It set a record for egg laying- 364 eggs out of 365 days! This breed is one of the best setters and mothers I have ever had and the rooster is very watchful and protective of the flock.   This bird will dress out between 5-8 pounds depending on whether it is a cockerel or hen. They start laying large brown eggs at around 5 months and I find them to be the best winter layers. Their ALBC (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy) status is “recovering.”

Speckled  Bird with chicks - small photo2) Speckled Sussex: This bird ties with the Black Australorp as my favorite. They are beautiful and  friendly. The roosters are colorful and very protective and watchful. The hens lay large light brown to beige eggs. They will dress out between 7-9 pounds depending on whether it’s a cockerel or hen. They will start laying at around 5 months old and  barely slow down in the winter. Their ALBC status is “recovering.

BigRedCrowsSunshine3) Rhode Island Red: This is the other breed my grandmother had. I am so glad I added it to my flock. They are awesome egg layers and dress out between 6-8 pounds depending on if it’s a cockerel or hen. To me they start to lay a little earlier than the others, but only by a week or two. They lay well in the winter too. While they are a heritage breed developed here in the United States, in Rhode Island, they are not a rare breed as the other two are.

I am sure you have different thoughts and feelings about the breeds you choose. Like my grandfather taught me, “There’s as many ways of getting a farm job done as there’s farmers. Ya gotta be willing to listen, help, and learn from ‘em, even it it’s just to see what not to do.”

That’s just what we’re trying to do, share and learn from one another. What breeds do you have and why? Would you choose them again? What breeds are your favorite and why? Be sure to comment or email me. You can read this post and more at Backyard Poultry Magazine.

Safe and Happy Journey,

Rhonda and The Pack

Roxie with Izzie, teaching her to love her first fire

Roxie with Izzie, teaching her to love her first fire

Eggs in basket


  • Top 3 Dual Purpose Poultry Breeds For Your Homestead | homesteadinfo

    […] Top 3 Dual Purpose Poultry Breeds For Your Homestead. […]

    November 14, 2014 at 7:41 am Reply
  • Jason

    I like the astrolope breed for homesteading, very protctive roasters also.

    November 14, 2014 at 7:43 am Reply
  • Ann @ LiveTheOldWay

    Great article! We used to have Speckled Sussex and we LOVED them. They were so friendly and always curious about what you were doing! We lived in town at the time so we chose them because they are supposed to be quieter than some of other breeds. Now we just have Red Sex Links and I miss the other guys so much!

    February 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm Reply
    • Rhonda

      Ann, Thanks so much for stopping by to comment. The Speckled Sussex are tied with the Black Australorp as my favorites, as you know from the article, but they really outshine any other breed in personality. Even the roosters are fabulous!

      February 13, 2015 at 12:22 pm Reply
  • Becky

    I have to add the Buff Orpington for a great dual purpose bird. Great even temperment. the Roo is very protective, great layers, even in the winter. We haven’t processed any yet, but they are good size. They are much more even termpered and easier to get along with other flock members and the family than the RIR and the sexlinks.

    June 8, 2015 at 2:48 pm Reply
    • Rhonda

      Becky, Thanks so much for stopping by to share with me. I think Buff Orpingtons are gorgeous.

      June 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm Reply
  • 5 Reasons I'm a Chicken Keeper ~

    […] sustenance farmers the breeds we choose are dual purpose birds. They provide egg and meat for us. (Top 3 Dual Purpose Breeds For Your Homestead) The breeds we choose dress out between 5-9 pounds, depending on the breed and whether it’s a […]

    June 23, 2015 at 7:03 am Reply
  • Black Australorp Breed Profile - Countryside Network

    […] The Rhode Island Red is another breed our grandparents had that we enjoy keeping as well. Many people who like the Australorp also like Wyandotte chickens. If you are a new chicken keeper, don’t limit yourself to one breed unless you’re sure you know what you want. Over the last 34 years, I’ve had many heritage breeds, but have settled on our favorite three dual purpose breeds. […]

    October 21, 2016 at 7:46 am Reply
  • Renate

    very nice article-thanks…I had many breeds in my flock that I had in SC 134 to be exact and I would like to add as an “Old timer” the barred Rocks and the Dominiquer breed …lovely birds-also dual purpose and good layers as well..cold and heat tolerant…and I just love the Easter Eggers…not too much on the meat side but the eggs are just wonderful, so is their personalities…chickens are just very lovely …all of them :)…Happy Easter to all!

    April 12, 2017 at 5:30 pm Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Thanks for stopping and sharing with us. Sounds like you have an amazing flock!

      April 13, 2017 at 4:39 pm Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Thanks for stopping and sharing with us. Sounds like you have an amazing flock! Be sure to let us know what you decide to add.

      April 13, 2017 at 4:40 pm Reply
      • Renate, Germany

        Hi Rhonda-sounds like you are also of that side of my neck of the woods lol-talking bout South Carolina, Berkeley County (Low County lake Moultry/Marian)…well unfortunatly I am no longer there…as I am German, a only child and my Mom was still in Germany so after 13 years USA -back I went -after my 2 sons moved out the house …so now I am in Germany in a big city-suburbia but still city and no chickens are allowed on 1st floor apartments lol…but I will return …one day to reunite with my sons and grands…sigh…ya gotta do what ya gotta do aint it…but yeah in my dreams I already create my new flock of chickens and ducks maybe 2 milk goats…for now I do with bucket gardening on my rather large balcony with plenty sun a thornless blackberry bush some tomatoe and pepper plants also some herbs like peppermint, basil even garlic …if we will continue this I would love to share easy simple recipies of old times from my grandmother and stuff you just learn as you go through the years…and again…Happy Easter n God bless!

        April 13, 2017 at 6:16 pm Reply
  • Renate, Germany

    Oh (chuckles) let me tell you what kind I had ..all colors of the polish (crested chickens) black Jersey Giats, Buff Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, Sultans, Australorps,Barred Rocks, Rhode I.Reds and some mystrious gigantic white hens that my x-hhusband had gotten from a local older lady…it took them forever to mature and start laying, but once they did most every other egg was a double yolker..big massive body, single comb, yellow shanks…from what I`ve learned so far I think it may have been white Giants-what you think?

    April 13, 2017 at 6:25 pm Reply
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