A great way to raise your own meat and have fresh eggs is by raising heritage chicken breeds on your homestead. You’re knocking out two birds with one stone.
These breeds of chicken are known for their ability to lay a lot of eggs while also growing to a decent weight for the table.
What’s even better is that instead of raising up 25-100 chickens all at once you can raise hens and then hatch out their eggs so you can raise some for meat as well. It’s a win-win situation.
Top Heritage Chicken Breeds for The Homestead
Committing to own your very own homestead can be a huge step.
There are many ways you may want to consider before fully committing to it, including a change of mindset, being ready for the challenges along the way, making a budget, and so much more.
To help you cross one item from your to-do list, here is some information you might want to know about chicken breeds you can consider for your incoming homestead!
1. Astralorp/ Australorp
The Australorp is a large, heavy bird with close-fitting, soft feathers. It is classified as a heavy, soft feathered English bird and is known to be an egg-laying machine, with an average of 250 eggs every year!
This gives you five light brown, medium-sized eggs every week. Astralorps are also known to be good mothers to their chicks. The standard-sized birds are heavy, with the male having a weight ranging around 8.5 to 10lbs while a hen around 6.5 to 8 lbs. While male bantams weigh around 2 to 2.7 lbs, hens weigh around 1.7 to 2.2 lbs.
Have you ever wondered where the famous colorful Easter eggs come from?
Well, this breed might be one of those chickens who give us those colorful eggs. The Araucana is a rare breed known for its blue eggs and its unique upright stance! Known to be part of the smaller-sized standard chicken, Araucanas typically weigh around 5lbs, although they grow fairly fast.
Although they are a small breed, their eggs being in medium-sized makeup for their lack of size. The Araucana can lay approximately 3 eggs per week. This breed stops laying for a while during winter and gets back in the game once hints of spring show up.
While we previously talked about the stunning blue eggs of the Araucana, this breed boasts of its beautiful blue feathers. The Andalusian is elegant and graceful, giving off a confident aura around her.
This seemingly very active bird is actually quite light. Its roosters weigh around 7lbs, while hens weigh around 5lbs. This breed is great for those of you looking for a good layer. With a rough estimate of 150 eggs a year, the Andalusian lays 3 white, medium to large eggs every week.
Unlike the Araucana, the Andalusian continues to lay eggs even in wintertime!
The Brahma breed has taken its name from the Brahmaputra River which flows through China and India. It is known for its size and for being a calm breed of chicken. Roosters weigh around 10lbs while hens weigh around 8lbs.
The Brahmas have three feather patterns—light, dark, and buff. A unique thing about this breed is its preference to lay during the months of October to May since most breeds take their time off during these months. Brahma hens produce 3-4 eggs per week, and they are medium to large brown eggs.
The Dominique is loved for being a multi-purpose hen. With its beautiful feather, this breed offers quality feathers that can be used to stuff pillows and provide you with a good, comfortable rest.
These chickens are rather friendly. Male Dominiques weigh around 7lbs while females weigh around 5lbs.
This breed is great at laying eggs. Hens lay medium-sized light brown eggs ranging from 230 to 270 eggs a year.
The Delaware chicken, as owners would say, is a hardy, friendly, calm yet funny to watch breed which is a relatively new breed of chicken to the chicken world. Delawares are curious birds, always into what you are doing.
As a medium-sized fowl, males are expected to weigh around 7 to 8lbs, while females at 6lbs. These chickens lay four large brown eggs a week.
7. Rhode Island Red
Known as the state bird of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Red was developed as a dual-purpose bird. This breed is one of the most successful breeds of chicken in the entire world that you can find them in every corner of the globe!
Roosters of this breed weigh around 8.5lbs while hens’ weight can reach 6.5lbs. We can trust the Rhode Island Red when we talk about egg-laying. The hen can lay 200-300 eggs every year, laying around 5 to 6 medium to large light brown colored eggs every week.
8. Rhode Island White
As the name suggests, these birds are beautiful and stunning white birds coming all the way from Rhode Island. Just like Rhode Island Red, this breed was developed to be a dual purpose bird. With brick-shaped bodies, these birds have males weighing 8.5lbs while hens weighing 6.5lbs.
You can trust Rhode Island Whites to give you a decent number of eggs a year. With brown eggs ranging from size large to extra-large, these birds lay 4 to 5 eggs every week, with an annual average of 200 to 250 eggs. Not too bad, right?
9. Buff Orpington
Envisioned to be a bird of dual-purpose, the Buff Orpington is a heavy bird that used to be considered endangered until 2016. It has a broad body with a low stance and has fluffed out shoulders with a curvy, short back.
Males of this breed weigh around 10lbs while females around 8 pounds. You can trust these birds to give you a fair amount of eggs, with an average of 200 to 280 eggs per year. This breed can also be used as a meat bird, as they can be ready within 22 weeks. Indeed, it serves its purpose as a dual-purpose breed.
10. Barred Plymouth Rock
If you came across a chicken with black and white bars, then you might have seen a barred Plymouth Rock chicken. This breed is the oldest and best known in the family of the Plymouth Rocks. Hens of this breed weigh about 7lbs while roosters can weigh up to 9.5lbs.
Barred Plymouth Rocks are rare, just like every other variety of Plymouth Rock that exists, except for the white Plymouth Rock. With an average of 200 eggs per year, this breed gives roughly 4 eggs per week.
Faverolles (Salmon Faverolles) are great for those of you living in the city and just looking for loving companions. This breed is always genuinely happy to see its master. Loved for their fluffy faces, hens of this breed weigh around 6.5lbs while roosters weigh 8lbs.
Not only are they cute and fluffy, but they are good layers of eggs, too. With an average of 180-200 eggs per year, this breed lays 4 tinted/very light brown medium-sized eggs every week.
The Sussex chicken is not only known for its egg-laying abilities but also serves chicken-meat lovers well. For the table, a fat Sussex is preferable, but for egg-laying purposes, the Sussex’s weight should be monitored.
Healthy roosters of this breed weigh 9lbs while hens weigh 7lbs. A great thing to know about the Sussex is these birds are low maintenance, not needing any special treatment. These birds lay 4 to 5 large brown eggs every week, giving you a good supply for the week. This breed is great for backyard poultry.
Where to Buy Baby Chicks or Chickens
Owning your very own homestead is a great decision. The joy you get from taking care of newfound friends or just knowing that the food you eat is grown right from your backyard is something very commendable!
There are a lot of great breeds of chicken out there and those mentioned up above are just some of them. Every chicken is different from each other and knowing your goal for owning one would be a great start for picking the right breed for you.
But, where can you buy chicks or chickens to start your flock?
You have a few options, but I’m going to talk about 4 that I have used personally.
- Tractor Supply
- A Hatchery
- Facebook groups
Buying From Tractor Supply
You may or may not find heritage breed chickens at Tractor Supply.
We ended up finding a good mix our first time there. They had Wyandotte’s, Black Sexlink, Barred Rock, Delaware, and ducks at the time we went.
There may have been a few more breeds, but I can’t remember. The chicks were fairly cheap and we only lost one, but that was due to an excited child and not any sickness.
So far, these chicks have turned into egg-laying machines.
Getting Chicks From A Hatchery
This is a great option if you’re looking for specialty breeds.
We’ll be getting 50+ meat birds delivered this spring along with some colorful egg layers and I’m pretty excited about that!
I think we’ll be using Meyer Hatchery when we make our purchase. There are other hatchery’s that are just as good. I just like the selection at Meyer.
Buying Chickens or Chicks From A Facebook Group
Folks are always trying to sell extra chickens on Facebook.
You can find lots of different breeds being sold in different Facebook groups. Try to look for chicken specific groups and you’ll find even more.
Some chicken groups cover a large area so you may have to pay to ship if you’re getting the chickens shipped to you.
Buying Chickens From Friends
Pretty much the next best thing is getting chicks or grown chickens from friends to start your flock with.
We lucked up and got a rooster and 4 hens for free once because a woman my husband worked with didn’t want to keep them all. The rooster went to freezer camp and the ladies are still laying eggs for us daily.
Related Article: What Chickens Can Eat and What Chickens Can’t Eat