The meat breeds of chickens or ‘meat chickens‘ are developed for rapid growth and heavy muscling. Although many people would say that any chicken may be raised for meat (which is partially true), there are some breeds that are more suited for meat production than others.
On our page we are going to discuss about what are the best chicken breeds for meat for backyard owners!
We will not discuss about the broilers (chickens used for meat production in the poultry industry). Broiler chickens, were designed to mature quickly, ready to market as early as 6 weeks of age.
Best Meat Chicken Breeds for Your Backyard
One chicken breed that was originally developed in the US only for meat was Brahma. However, today there are many hybrid meat chickens, developed solely for this purpose. They convert feed to muscle more efficiently than the standard breeds.
In general all meat chickens (chicken breeds for meat) have the following common characteristics:
- Meat chickens grow much faster
- They are broad breasted
- Usually the meat chicken breeds have bigger distance between back and keel
- The chickens raised for meat have backs that are wide and flat
1. Jersey Ginat Chicken
The Jersey chicken originated in New Jersey, sometime around the 1800s. The main purpose of the chicken was to create something that was fairly substantial in size.
It should be a meat chicken, so its weight is much more important than its egg laying ability.
In fact, the intention of the breed was to be a bit larger than a turkey. It came close, but shortly after, larger turkeys started to be bred, and the Jersey chicken couldn’t compete with that.
The male jersey goes up to 13 lbs (6 kg) while the Jersey hens weigh 10 lb ( 4.5 kg).
Not that it matters too much. This is still a fantastic chicken for those who want a decent meat chicken breed.
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As said earlier, one of the best chickens for meat was developed in the early part of the 20th Century. The Brahma was probably the most wildly farmed meat chicken in the United States.
If you had chicken meat from 1850 through to 1930, chances are that it came from the Brahma chicken. The male weigh up to 12 lbs while the female 9.5 lbs
While the chicken is not farmed as heavily nowadays, mostly because there are other meat chicken breeds that are a lot more productive, it is still a breed that exists. So, what is the Brahma all about? You can take a look at our article about the Brahma Chicken.
The Orpington chicken originates in the United Kingdom. It is designed to be a chicken raised for meat and eggs. It is one of the best chickens for meat for your backyard.
This meat chicken is a dual-production bird. This means that if you raise one, you are going to be getting a decent number of eggs and some meat at the end of the day. The male weigh 10 lb (4.55 kg) while the female around 8 lb (3.60 kg).
Read more about the Orpington chickens.
The Ameraucana chicken started to appear in the 1970s. It was bred from the original Araucana chicken. These originated in Chile. It is only in the United States that the two of these are seen as separate breeds.
Although it does not weighs as much as the other meat chicken breads, the Ameraucana is typically raised for meat in the US. The male weighs 6.5 lb while the female 5.5 lb when fully grown. Read more about Ameraucana chicken.
The Cochin chicken originated in Asia. This feather legged chicken was developed initially to be a meat chicken, however nowadays they are more used for ornamental purpose.
Males weighs around 11 lb (5 kg), while the female 8.5 lb (3.8 kg).
One thing that is worth noting about this chicken breed is that they have great personality and they have extremely gentle temperament. This makes them one of the most friendliest chicken breeds.
The Cornish chicken originated in England. They are used in the chicken industry as a meat chicken breed.
The Cornish male weighs 10.5 lb (4.8 kg), while the hens can grow up to 8 lb (3.6 kg).
This is a very large meat chicken which is often crossed with other meat chicken breeds to enhance meat production in the chicken industry.
7. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is the meat chicken that took the world by storm. One of the biggest and best chickens for meat in the world.
Probably one that you are going to encounter a lot if you decide to opt for some backyard chickens to raise for meat. This chicken breed is absolutely perfect for those who want a chicken that would lay a lot of eggs, but when the egg-laying days are over, it could be slaughtered for a bit of meat. It is no wonder that the chicken became so popular around the world.
Male weighs around 8.6 lb (3.9 kg) while the Rhode Island Red Hens around 6.6 lb (3 kg).
Read more about Rhode Island Red and what is so special about this breed.
Another best chickens for meat is the Sussex chicken. It is one of the oldest breeds of chicken in the world.
The Sussex is a chicken raised for meat on commercial chicken farms. The egg production isn’t going to be anywhere near high enough for it to earn it’s worth as an egg-producing chicken.
However, if you have a decent flock of these at home, then there is no reason why it wouldn’t make a good dual-purpose chicken. If you want meat, then you will slaughter these at maybe 3-4 years old.
The male Sussex weigh around 9 lbs (4.1 kg) while the female min 7 lbs (3.2 kg).
The Wyandotte chicken is American in every aspect. This meat chicken has been built for both meat and eggs, therefore the chicken is on the larger side. As you may have guessed; their legs are rather thick in order to hold onto that sturdy frame the chicken has.
The average male weighs 8.5 lb (3.5 – 4 kg), while the female 6.5 lb ( 2.7 – 3.2 kg).
The Wyandotte is regarded as one of the most beautiful of the ‘popular’ breeds, and you will often find it dominating poultry shows around the world.
10. Plymouth Rock
The Plymouth Rock is an old American breed of chicken, very popular meat chicken in the 19th and the begging of the last century. Especially the barred Plymouth Rock.
It is very large chicken breed raised for meat. The roosters weighs 9.5 lb, while the hens 7.5 lb.
It is worth noting that the hens of this meat chickens are very good egg layers, with about 200 brown eggs per year. Which is why they are often kept as a dual-purpose breed by the backyard owners.
Skin Color of Meat Chickens
Do Meat Chickens Lay Eggs?
Yes, meat chickens lay eggs. Many people are wondering if meat chickens lay eggs, so that is why we wanted to clarify on this page.
The fact is that all meat chickens lay eggs. Some more, some less. That is why all the chicken breads in the world are divided into three categories:
- Meat Chickens
- Chickens for Eggs
- Dual Purpose Chickens (Meat + Eggs)
One great example of Dual Purpose breed is the Plymouth Rock chicken. The hens can lay about 200 eggs per year, while in the same time you have a chicken that is on the heavy side. Once the chicken’s egg-laying days are behind it, then the chicken can easily be slaughtered and turned into meat.