Meat birds or dual purpose??


10 Years
Oct 4, 2009
I have a question, I was planning on getting dual purpose birds and keeping the good layers for eggs and culling the rest. I want to keep a rooster to have chicks in the future and keep refreshing the flock for meat and also to replace layers if need be.

I was wondering what you all thought of this... What do you do in this situation, would you get one breed that is good for both or get a breed for laying and a breed for meat?

I'm really not sure what the best way to do it is. Thoughts??
It depends largely on what kind of chicken you want in the oven or on the stove. If you want an older, more flavorful, less mushy (some would call it tougher, others would not), less meaty, and less-white-meat-y carcass, you want dual purpose.

OTOH if you want something that will compare to grocery store chickens, with a lot of breast meat and very little texture, and want the lowest price in terms of cost per lb of meat, then you want broiler chicks plus a separate flock of layers (which may well be a quote dual purpose unquote breed *anyhow*).

Broiler chicks you will have to buy each time from the feed store, you cannot breed them yourself. Whereas if you keep a roo and have either an incubator or a few hens that go broody, you can raise your own dual purpose chicks.

GOod luck, have fun,

I'll never understand how anyone could think Cornish X's have no texture or are mushy. Unless you are used to eating your shoes, Cornish X's have plenty of texture. In fact, if you've only had store chicken, you'll think they're a little tough.

They are great birds. You get a ton of meat, you can butcher anywhere from 6-10 weeks, you're DONE after that, (so you get a chicken break,) and I can't imagine being happy with the amount of meat on a "dual purpose," unless you grew up eating them. Layers are mostly bone and feathers- dual purpose are a little better, but I've gotten 8 meals from a large broiler before. One breast often feeds two people. It's hard to beat that.

Then, get some birds that are known specificially for laying- that way you get reliable eggs every day. Leghorns have next to nothing for meat, they sure do lay eggs!
Just buy some leghorns and some cornish rocks if your serious about egg and meat production,theres NO dual-purpose bird that will grow as fast or even close to the cornish x,they dont eat as much feed as if you kept a dual purpose for like 5months,in 8 weeks there ready to butcher,and there not so rubbery and gross like a 7 month old dual-purpose.If you do get dual purpose chickens then get some dark cornishes.
The only chicken I've ever had that I would describe as "too tough" was a 2 yr old stewing hen (presumably a meatie breeder) from the store; honestly the CornishX that I've raised, which had lots of room to play in an outdoor run as well as their indoor pen, were (sadly) virtually indistinguishable in texture from store-boughten chicken.

But it is clear from what people write on this forum that the whole thing about tenderness/toughness/mushiness appears to be MASSIVELY a matter of personal taste.

Probably the best approach, if you are serious about raising chickens for meat, is to TRY it all different ways -- raise and eat a couple dual purpose birds at 10, 16 and 20 weeks, and some CornishX at 5 and 8 weeks, and maybe some colored broilers at one or two different ages if you can get them; and see what suits your individual tastes and cooking style.

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Really? not even in the leg meat? The breast seem to be firmer for me as well but I can definately tell with the leg meat. When I do get chicken from the store (restaurants) I very rarely get them from the store... but anyhow they are mushy with very little flavor unless you pack them full of your own.

But as far as that chickeny flavor you get from dual purpose... they don't even compare. Dual purpose are just older with more defined muscles.... stringy and full of flavor... Which is why a lot of people like the cornish over the dual purpose. Like Jaku said if your not grown up eating it more than likely you have to get a taste for it.

I'm so pumped as I'm getting some buckeyes in this week that are from really good broiler lines. I think they have been breeding this strain for good meat qualities for about 4 years now and they look great. Anyhow, Two of them are culls that didn't quite make the cut for breeding stock and I will be getting to process these for the table... looking foward to getting some good quality meat.
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You asked for thoughts so I'll give you some of mine.

As far as mushy, texture, flavor, taste, in my opinion, all that is acquired taste, personal opinion, what you are used to. We all have our own opinions and preferred tastes and none matter but your own.

I don't know how many chickens you are talking about or what your set-up is or is planned. I'm doing about what you are talking about. You can see my selections in my signature. In a couple of years I plan to have only mutts and not keep pure breeds. A great quantity of eggs per hen is not that important to me. I figure if I keep 5 to 7 hens and 1 rooster, I'll get plenty of eggs for me and my friends and plenty of hatching eggs, even with below average layers. Not that I am actively selecting against good layers, just that it is not my top priority. All things equal, I am selecting for the better layers. I just started with my chicks this spring, so I am still in my initial culling phase.

My top priority is to select for meat. That just means I eat the slower developing smaller ones first.

I have eaten a few of my chickens. I find the meat does have more "texture", there is less meat overall, and there is less white meat than dark meat as compared to the store chickens. Just be aware. Also, if you pluck the chickens as opposed to skinning them, the darker chickens do have darker pin feathers that are less appealing than the white chickens. When new feathers are coming in, the Black Australorps especially have a black "ink" in the feathers coming in that looks really disgusting. No big deal to me as I handle it while processing and wash them well, but it might bother some people. That is why white birds are selected for the commercial market. It's not that white birds produce more meat; the carcass looks better.

As I see it, you have a few different options. You could just get dual purpose birds of whatever breed(s) you want and selectively breed them as you will, about like I am doing.

You could select a breed of hens, say white rock for the better looking carcasses, and run two roosters with them, say a white rock rooster and a Cornish rooster. Not sure which color of Cornish rooster would work better. I'm pretty sure you will know which chicks are pure white rock and which are Cornish crosses pretty soon. You then just eat all the crosses and as many of the pure breeds as you desire. One possible disadvantage to this is that the eating and pooping habits of the crosses versus dual purpose are quite different. You might have management issues.

You could run two separate flocks, one with the dual purpose chickens for meat and eggs, and the other for the meat birds, using a dual purpose rooster with one flock and a Cornish rooster with the other.

If you are using hatchery chickens, don't expect your homegrown Cornish crosses to be the same as the commercial Cornish crosses. Hatchery chicks are not selectively bred for that as well as the commercial birds. They will still be a lot more like the commercial crosses than the dual purpose chickens will.

There are other possible scenarios you could come up with. Hopefully this will give you some starting points for your chicken journey. Enjoy the ride.
Speaking from personal experience... If one has a ton of time and money, any of the dual purpose or the crosses thereof will do one just fine. However, The White Leghorn is the "Gold Standard" for egg production. The commercial Cornish X is the "Gold Standard" for meat production. These will save you a ton of TIME and MONEY.
LOL -- me too, but isn't it FRUSTRATING that the only ones you get to eat are the ones that are not really so appropriate for eating? Whereas you have a big broad deep cockerel strutting around and you can just *see* how nice he would look on the table...

I really prefer the taste of "real" chickens to broilers. However I have to say that the idea of feeding/killing fewer chickens for X lbs of meat does have its appeal, in favor of broilers.

Interestingly, I find that all my home-raised chickens, *even the CornishX* tho to a slightly lesser extent, make vastly better chicken stock than store-boughten chicken. I do not know why. But the difference is quite pronounced.

Thanks so much for all the replies!

I am quite stuck as to what I want to do. I definitely want some good meat birds to feed us and also sell some to family and friends. Eggs are also very important, I want to sell some on the side to make a small amount of money as well as for ourselves. I really am looking for dual purposes!!!

We are doing this small scale, around 50 chickens, and they will all be free range on our farm. If I get broilers I think we will make a chicken tractor/coop for them and allow the laying hens the real shed we are turning into a coop. It's a fairly large shed, I have no idea how many birds we can fit in there though! It will all be a learning curve, thats for sure!!!

The benefits I see of having 25 dual purpose and 25 broilers is that I can make sure I don't get attached to the broilers, kill and then process them and learn from that while my layers mature and I can figure out which ones are good and which ones are dinner.

I guess the benefits of having all one breed is they can all chill out together and less management that way. Will take longer to cull them as I figure out which hens are best (might take awhile to learn which roos I dont want to keep as well) but that isn't a huge issue I guess. Maybe it will be easier to learn with just one breed? I worry I may get attached to the layers, but thats the first habit I have to break, they are not pets.

I really like Barred Rocks, I was thinking of getting a bunch of them, then some silkies to brood the eggs.

Guys, I have to say, I have NEVER eaten a chicken from a farm. I have NO idea about the difference between them!!! That will be very interesting to me, tasting my first chicken that I raised from a wee chick. I hope it's delicious and that I don't feel too bad. :S

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