15 Best Meat Chickens To Breed For Profit Or Food

Here at Meat Sumo, we are constantly being asked:

What types of chicken are good for meat? It’s a good question, and the answer is that there are loads of different breeds of chicken you can eat.

However, generally, you want to be looking for chicken breeds listed as “broilers” (bred to be eaten only), or “dual-purpose” (good for egg-laying and eating). These chickens are the best chickens for meat.

But, now let’s look at the best of the best.

The 15 Best Meat Chicken Breeds

Jersey Giant

Jersey Giant
  • Approximate weight: 13lbs
  • Maturity time: 16-21 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

The Jersey Giant was first bred in New Jersey, USA in the 1800s, with the intention of creating a chicken whose size could outstrip that of the turkeys available at the time.

Jersey Giants are healthy chickens that can grow up to 13lbs, but do take a while to do so. Their eggs are tasty, and their meat plentiful.

Pros:

  • Few known health issues
  • Can breed for eggs and meat
  • Hens also large and meaty (10lbs)

Cons:

  • Slow growth rate

Freedom Rangers

Freedom Rangers
  • Approximate weight: 6lbs
  • Maturity time: 9-11 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

Freedom Rangers are bred specifically for the pesticide-free meat market and love to be raised free-range on pasture.

They can be fed low-protein feed, but will happily survive on bugs and grass alone. Though small, Freedom Rangers mature quickly, and make tasty little fryers.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance foragers
  • Can breed for eggs and meat
  • Fast growth rate

Cons:

  • A bit small (males grow to just 6lbs, female even lighter)

Brahma

Brahma Meat Chicken
  • Approximate weight: 9.5lbs
  • Maturity time: 8-10 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

Brahma were for a long time the most widely farmed meat chicken in the US.

Though less popular today, they remain one of the fastest maturing breeds (at just 8-10 weeks). Brahma are also one of the friendliest and most docile chicken breeds you can own.

Pros:

  • Very friendly and docile
  • Can breed for eggs and meat
  • Fast growth rate

Cons:

  • A bit small
  • Thick feathers may require manual drying after rain

Orpington

Orpington best meat chickens
  • Approximate weight: 8-10lbs
  • Maturity time: 18-24 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

The Orpington is a true Heritage chicken from the UK, which many enjoy raising for tradition’s sake alone.

Docile, broody, and good at foraging, Orpingtons are probably the least high-maintenance backyard meat chickens you can raise. They are also tremendous egg layers, producing up to 200 eggs per year.

Pros:

  • Hardy, independent and low-maintenance
  • Can breed for eggs and meat
  • Decent size (10lbs for males, 8lbs for females)

Cons:

  • Slow growth rate

White American Bresse

White American Bresse
  • Approximate weight: 7lbs
  • Maturity time: 16-20 weeks
  • Breed type: Broiler

Some say the White American Bresse is the tastiest meat chicken you can raise.

In fact, whenever I’m asked what’s the best type of chicken to eat? My answer is always the White American Bresse.

Whilst Bresse requires higher care costs than other breeds, it’s fairly easy to successfully breed Bresse, helping you recoup some of the expense.

The Bresse has a lovely flavor and texture and is docile and friendly.

Pros:

  • Our favorite chicken for flavor and texture
  • Fairly easy to breed from

Cons:

  • Slow growth rate
  • Broiler, so not great for egg-laying
  • A bit small
  • More expensive to keep than other breeds

Buckeyes

Buckeyes chicken
  • Approximate weight: 9lbs
  • Maturity time: 16-21 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

If you like dark meat over white, then Buckeyes is the breed for you!

Buckeyes are super resilient chickens, bred in the cold but able to handle any change in temperature without stress. They are resistant to most diseases and ideal for northern climates.

Dual-purpose chickens, they can lay up to 200 eggs a year. Just be aware, they can be aggressive to other animals.

Pros:

  • Disease resistant
  • Can breed for eggs and meat
  • Can adapt to almost any weather change
  • Delicious dark meat chickens

Cons:

  • Slow growth rate
  • Can be aggressive

Brown Leghorn

Brown Leghorn meat chicken
  • Approximate weight: 6lbs
  • Maturity time: 16-21 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

Brown Leghorns are one of the most productive egg-layers of all the dual-purpose breeds out there. A single hen can produce 280 eggs a year in the right conditions!

At the same time, Brown Leghorns make for fairly tasty meat, too. These chickens thrive in hot climates, ideal for many US states, and rarely exhibit aggressive behavior.

They also like to forage, meaning they’re perfect for free-range raising.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance foragers
  • Can breed for eggs and meat (280 eggs a year!)
  • Thrives in hot climates
  • Non-aggressive

Cons:

  • Slow growth rate
  • A bit small (at just 6lbs)

Egyptian Fayoumi

Egyptian Fayoumi chicken
  • Approximate weight: 5lbs
  • Maturity time: 14-18 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

An exotic chicken breed, the Egyptian Fayoumi is unmistakable with its blue-black and silvery-white plumage. These chickens grow to maturity pretty quickly, but are on the small side.

Nevertheless, as active foragers who are resistant to most diseases, they are super low maintenance. Their eggs and meat are exceptionally delicious.

Pros:

  • Disease resistant
  • Low maintenance forester
  • Can breed for eggs and meat (both of which are very tasty)
  • Fast growth rate

Cons:

  • A bit small
  • Can be flighty

White Cornish-X (Cross)

White Cornish-X (Cross)
  • Approximate weight: 12lbs
  • Maturity time: 4-6 weeks
  • Breed type: Broiler

What is the fastest-growing meat chicken? The answer is, without a doubt, the Cornish-X (or Cornish Cross). These broilers are bred specifically to grow to maturity fast, and to be heavy, plump, tasty birds by the time they get there.

Meaty enough to harvest as early as four weeks old, Cornish-X’s are the most economical of meat chickens.

They cannot, however, be bred, but must be bought, and are prone to health complications. They also require a lot of feeding and don’t free range well.

Thankfully, Cornish-X’s have especially large breasts, thighs, and legs, with a nice fat cap that does well in a roast. Alongside the Bresse, Cornish-X’s are also the tastiest meat chickens out there.

Pros:

  • Extremely tasty with lots of meat
  • Widely available and cheap to buy
  • Grow fast and large (ready to eat in 4-6 weeks)

Cons:

  • Don’t free range (have to be fed)
  • Eat a lot of food
  • Prone to health problems
  • Not parasite-resistant
  • Cannot be bred

Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red meat chicken
  • Approximate weight: 9lbs
  • Maturity time: 15-16 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

The Rhode Island Red is one of the most popular dual-purpose chickens in the world. Good foragers, they grow quite quickly, too, and suffer minimal health issues.

Rhode Island Reds also lay lots of eggs, and are commonly used as layers until ready for slaughter. Unfortunately, RI Reds are extremely noisy and likely to bully any other chickens you coop them up with.

Pros:

  • One of the most popular dual-purpose breeds
  • Fairly fast growth rate
  • Low maintenance foragers
  • Minimal health issues

Cons:

  • Aggressive to other chickens
  • Very noisy

Chantecler

Chantecler chicken
  • Approximate weight: 9lbs
  • Maturity time: 11-16 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

Chanteclers mature to slaughtering age very quickly and are a decent size too.

Very low maintenance, since they prefer foraging to a high-protein diet, these chickens are resilient in cold weather.

As a pure breed, Chanteclers are also less expensive in the long run, and you can breed multiple generations without a loss in production or heritage.

Pros:

  • Pure breed, excellent for breeding
  • Very low maintenance foragers
  • Fast growth rate and decent size
  • Can breed for eggs and meat

Cons:

  • Few if any

Croad Langshan

Croad Langshan chicken
  • Approximate weight: 9lbs
  • Maturity time: 14-18 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

These strangely exotic feather-leg Chinese chickens are black with an oily green tint.

Quite striking, they also make lovely dual-purpose meat chickens and are arguably some of the most intelligent chickens you’ll ever breed.

Croad Langshan’s lay around 150 eggs a year and grow to a respectable mature size in a relatively quick span of time.

Pros:

  • Very beautiful and intelligent
  • Can breed for eggs and meat
  • Relatively quick growth rate

Cons:

  • Lay fewer eggs than other dual-purpose breeds

Dorking

Dorking chicken
  • Approximate weight: 9lbs
  • Maturity time: 16 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

Dorkings produce a very tender, fine-textured meat. They can also lay around 140 nice large white eggs a year.

Low maintenance thanks to their preference for foraging, they are unfortunately not good at defending themselves. Dorkings are also prone to frostbite, and their hens are slow to mature.

You won’t get any eggs from a Dorking hen until she’s around 26 weeks old.

Pros:

  • Tender, tasty meat
  • Can breed for eggs and meat
  • Decent size
  • Low maintenance forager

Cons:

  • Slow growth rate
  • Bad at defending themselves
  • Prone to frostbite

Kosher King

kosher king chicken
  • Approximate weight: 5lbs
  • Maturity time: 12 weeks
  • Breed type: Broiler

Kosher Kings have similarly pretty appearances to Barred Rocks, with their proud, black and white striped plumage.

Female Kosher Kings make very respectable layers once mature, whilst the males grow very quickly to maturity (much quicker than heritage breeds).

Unfortunately, this breed is very small, and the meat is of good quality, but nothing special.

Pros:

  • Very fast growth rate
  • Hens can be decent layers, even though this is a broiler breed
  • Attractive plumage

Cons:

  • Very small chickens
  • Meat is tasty but nothing special

New Hampshire Red

New Hampshire Red meat chicken
  • Approximate weight: 8.5lbs
  • Maturity time: 8-10 weeks
  • Breed type: Dual-purpose

This is truly the All-American meat chicken. Whilst dual-purpose, the New Hampshire Red is often also used as a broiler species.

It can tolerate almost any change in weather conditions and is generally broody and quiet.

Whilst the males can be a little aggressive, their versatility and hardiness make them a fantastic beginner breed, and a great all-rounder.

Pros:

  • Few known health issues
  • Can breed for eggs and meat
  • Decent size chickens
  • Fast growth rate
  • Easy to raise – good beginner breed
  • Versatile and adaptable

Cons:

  • There are bigger meat chickens out there
  • Males can be aggressive

3 Things You Must Know About Raising Meat Chickens

Whilst some people advocate for free-range rearing, others say that foraging poultry become stringy and tough. But what’s the truth? And how should you slaughter them once they’re plump enough to eat?

Free Range vs Chicken Coop

No matter what you might think, the popularity of free-range chicken raising isn’t just about animal rights.

In fact, I always recommend rearing your chickens in a free-range environment (unless the breed doesn’t forage, which is rare).

Chickens will happily wander around all day eating insects and grass, a diet that helps to ensure their meat is full of healthy nutrients and Omega-3 fatty acids (the good kind of fat).

Feeding Meat Chickens

In order to maximize the flavor quality of your chickens’ meat, it’s recommended to feed them on a 12:12 ratio.

This means giving your chickens free access to food for 12 hours (grass and/or pellets), and then no access to food for the subsequent 12 hours.

It is equally important to give your birds access to plenty of water at all times.

How To Slaughter Meat Chickens

To ensure a humane death, whilst not spoiling the meat, you have to bleed your chickens. That means tying their feet together tightly and hanging them upside down in a cone or from a string.

Slit the neck with a very sharp knife or scalpel, and drain the blood into a bucket you have placed beneath the chicken.

To prep the bird for plucking, ‘scald’ it in water at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for a minute or two to loosen the feathers.

Conclusion

With so many meat chickens to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. Hopefully, our article has helped you to make a positive and informed decision.

If you’re looking for a good starter breed, then I think you can’t go far wrong with a New Hampshire Red.

If you’d like a quick turnaround more than anything else, then a Cornish-X is definitely your best bet, though bear in mind their health problems. Lastly, of course, if it’s taste you’re after, then you have to go for the White American Bresse. Happy brooding!

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