Top 3 Dual Purpose Poultry Breeds For Your Homestead

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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

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11 Comments

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

  2. Jason on November 14, 2014 at 7:43 am

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

  3. Ann @ LiveTheOldWay on February 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    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!

    • Rhonda on February 13, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      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!

  4. Becky on June 8, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    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.

    • Rhonda on June 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm

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

  5. 5 Reasons I'm a Chicken Keeper ~ on June 23, 2015 at 7:03 am

    […] 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 […]

  6. Barbara Austin on March 15, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    I’m experimenting with a lot of different breeds. This chick season I am adding the Black Australorpe and a couple of Ameraucanas for the colorful eggs and some white Leghorns. I dearly love my Buff Orpington hens because they are so people friendly and I find that there are always one or two who will appear with chicks every season to add to my flock. The roosters are super watchful, but vary in people friendliness. Another favorite are the Cuckoo Marans with their rich, dark brown eggs.. They are very good foragers, clean and hardy. The roosters are my favorite; they are such gentlemen, protective, but not aggressive. My favorite was named “Gentleman Jim”. I have also had Speckled Sussex and love that I can tell the hens apart. I had a young SS rooster that was fearless in his confrontations with the older, larger roosters and came to known as “The General”. He was the boss. My latest have been the Dominiques who did very well during a stretch of very cold weather for TN, a week in the single digits at night. They roost in a single cedar tree under the watchful eye of my English shepherds. My flock of 15 is giving me 10-12 eggs a day now and one Buff has snuck off to lay … as of today there are 12 eggs in her nest. These girls range over about 15-20 acres of woods, pasture and yard. They get a little scratch twice a day and a serving of meal worms and cat kibble and they rake over the compost pile and the unplanted parts of the garden and do a thorough job of working the sheep yard. Oh, they also share the food we set out for the cat and dogs. It would be hard to pick a favorite, but Cuckoo Marans, Buff Orpingtons and Speckled Sussex are my picks for right now. Chicken soap opera plays every evening and is my favorite entertainment.

    • Amber on March 16, 2018 at 4:37 am

      Love your story, thanks for sharing! What part of Tennessee? We are wanting to move b y Sevier County!
      I loved my Buffs and Black Australorpe’s too!

  7. Barbara Austin on June 28, 2018 at 1:50 am

    We are in Hardeman County,, southwestern part of TN.. Sevier has some beautiful country!

    • Amber on June 28, 2018 at 6:13 am

      Well hi, there neighbor! We LOVE it here so far and can’t wait to see more. My father and his wife bout property in Chattanooga but haven’t started building yet. I can’t wait to see what this place looks like in the fall. Let me know if you ever come this way.

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