Dual purpose questions


Apr 28, 2018
NY - Hudson Valley Area
Thanks for all the input! Lots to think about. We have the room on our 3 acres. Currently have 16 layers, or should i say free loaders...i think my lack of eggs this winter has me thinking about other options. Last winter we had so many eggs. I had only 10 birds and gathered 5-7 daily all winter long. This year nothing!! More birds and no eggs. Makes it hard to feed them all winter long without any eggs to show. My husband is ready to butcher them all since no one is producing anything. Lol. I told him that laying should commence again. But the thought of hatching chicks early enough in the year to get a laying season and then butchering once they slow on the laying. But they all have names and are my girls pets so i think we are a ways off from that method.

It's funny how having a name makes a difference. My son has a chicken, my profile picture here actually, Goldie Gurl. I wanted to process her a year ago. Few to no eggs...all year round and eats a tremendous amount of food that I call her Fat Gurl, which my son says I am bullying her lol. But if she didn't have a name would my son be ok with it? He told me yes. So, I will be getting meat birds in the spring and no names allowed...and I mean it.

This is the first molt for our 5 Sweet Girls. We have gotten 1 or 2 eggs daily. The weather has been cold, a few ice storms and snow but I believe in giving them a break in winter. I have 3 RIR's that are great layers and a sex link from TSC. So when spring comes, egg production will go down as they will be 2 years old in March.

I'm ok with our chicken pets. The next flock, however, will be treated just as well but as egg layers or food without names.

Good luck in your endeavors and you will learn new things as the years go on.
Jul 3, 2018
If you want eggs all winter, you get chicks every spring.

Another point, the larger the flock, the less the individuals stand out. Amusing me that all the black ones look the same. Barred ones the same. This can be good and bad.

Cheers and best wishes with whatever you decide.
I did have chicks this spring. Lol. That’s what has been so baffling. I had 4 new chicks and none of them started to lay before the days got short and the older girls started molting.


Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I did have chicks this spring. Lol. That’s what has been so baffling. I had 4 new chicks and none of them started to lay before the days got short and the older girls started molting.
When were chicks hatched?
My late May hatched pullets aren't laying either....and they have lights.


Hatching Malted Milk Balls
Premium member
May 19, 2017
Eastern Houston
Amazing. My late May chicks gave me 9 eggs from 12 pullets for the last several days. They started the 9th October with the first one. We do get more light way down here. I think my neighbor's flood lights affect them also. These are a Barnyard mix but I'll guess Production Blacks, maybe an Australorp, Dominiques and Production Reds. Be careful what you ask for.


Mar 20, 2017
...curious how people use dual purpose birds.
About 20 years ago, at my parents' place in Alaska:
--Preferred breed: White Plymouth Rock (aka White Rock)
--Winter flock of 6-12 hens and 1 rooster (with added light to encourage winter laying)
--Spring, hatch chicks in incubator (one or more batches, incubator held about 40 eggs)
--Summer, old hens are still laying, new pullets and cockerels growing up (portable outdoor pens for the old birds, "winter" house for brooding chicks, older chicks in portable pens too)
--Summer/Fall, butcher all but one cockerel at around 8 weeks old; also butcher any defective pullets at that age--runt, crossed beak, etc.
--Fall, butcher any excess pullets, plus butcher all old hens and the old rooster
--Winter, new hens are laying, new rooster crowing (well, technically still pullets and a cockerel at this age, but you get the idea)

--young birds, grill or fry or bake. Pieces are kinda small, but that makes them cook more quickly on the grill. My Dad preferred the smaller pieces for that reason, instead of the "giant" ones from store chickens.
--old birds, chicken and dumplings, or all night in the crockpot to get tender and then pick the meat off the bones to use in various dishes.
--any in-between age birds: probably baked in the oven with various seasonings, because that was our default for almost any meat.

What is the maximum amount of time before duals purpose birds would be too tough? Best time of year to get chicks for maximum outcomes of eggs and meat? Pros? Cons? Just curious about how managing a true dual purpose flock goes and if it will fit into what we have going on here.
Because of being in Alaska, we kept the fewest birds possible in the winter, and raised more in the summer when we didn't have cold weather and snowdrifts.

They never get too tough to eat, as long as you're willing to cook them long enough and chop the meat small. (Almost forgot that point: if you chop it small enough, it never tastes tough. So just make chicken salad or tacos or something, if you mis-figured and cooked it "wrong." Or you could grind the meat, which also makes it easy to chew.)

We mostly had the chickens for eggs, but to get next year's layer flock required hatching about three times as many chicks as the number of pullets we wanted. Plus we ate the old birds each year. So that provided almost enough chicken meat for the family. (We ate other kinds of meat too, so not trying to provide ALL meat, just all CHICKEN meat.)

For planning purposes, plan on about 50% hatch rate, a few dying in the brooder, and more than half being the wrong gender. So if we wanted 6 pullets and a cockerel, we would try for 18 chicks, which might mean setting 30-40 eggs. Plus the 7 old birds would make about 20 birds eaten, with extras if the eggs hatched better than expected.


Dec 21, 2019
Northern CA
I eat all my chickens (except my bantam and favorite) when there done laying and I get broilers. Any chicken can be a dual purpose, when I hatch eggs I eat most the roosters.
Any bird can be eaten.
'Dual purpose' is a bit misleading, those labeled such often do neither well.

I hatch replacement layers every year and slaughter all the cockerels by 16 weeks old.
Also slaughter a few older hens in the fall to get down to winter housing numbers.
Toughness of meat has more to do with resting the carcass before cooking or freezing...as well as how you cook them. The older they are the longer I rest them.
The young cockerels can be grilled, older birds I use the pressure cooker....tho I guess low, wet, and slow in the oven works too.

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
western South Dakota
We had an inordinate amount of cloudy days this summer. And I think that the diffuse light did affect the onset of laying with pullets, and for the first time in 15 years of chickens, I did not get a broody hen.

Mrs K
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