Big is Better: Meet The Giants of the Chicken Coop
OK, so bigger may not always be better, but if you are wanting big eggs or a big roast chicken for dinner, big is the way to go!
Let’s learn more about the 15 largest chicken breeds in the world.
There are many different breeds of chicken to choose from, but if you want to find the biggest and best, read on. We’ll give you the lowdown on the big birds you want to fill your coop!
With so many breeds to choose from it can be a daunting task to try and narrow it down and make a choice. And while they are all chickens, not all chickens are born equal.
Do you want a beautiful, pretty hen that lays a few eggs? Try Wyandotte. They are gorgeous to look at and lay a classic brown egg.
Maybe you want a plain hen that lays loads of eggs? Sussex is a reddy brown color but will give you nearly 280 eggs a year.
But you’re reading this because you want to know the big birds, the chunky chickens, the huge hens. So let’s get into it, starting with a jolly black giant!
1. The Jersey Giant
The Jersey Giant is the undisputed heavyweight champ of the chicken world. The males can weigh about 13 to 15 pounds and grow up to a height of 20 to 26 inches tall. The hens are a bit smaller, weighing in from 10 to 12 pounds with a height of 15 to 20 inches.
But this big bird does not like to throw his weight around. He has earned the nickname Gentle Giant by being affectionate and playful and great with children.
Laying around 200 large brown eggs a year, this breed is very popular. It will certainly stand out in your backyard!
2. The Brahma
This beautiful bird has had the record as the biggest-ever chicken! It isn’t generally as big as the Jersey Giant but can grow very large indeed. Generally, they weigh in at around 10-11 lbs but can be bigger. Jersey is the bigger breed, but you can get some blooming big Brahmas!
They are not only big, and tall, but beautiful as well! They have distinctive colored feathers and come in three different shades, Light, Buff, and Dark.
Good-natured has plenty of eggs and is great to look at. These chickens are a popular choice for most breeders.
3. The Cornish
This bird is named after the area of England called Cornwall, where they were first bred.
It’s not as well known as some of the other breeds on this list, and maybe not so easy to find. But it is a good-sized bird, growing up to a weight of 10lbs.
Also known as the Indian Game chicken, it is one of the most popular breeds for the meat production industry.
It may not be the prettiest bird in the coop, but if you are looking for a good meal when it’s finished laying eggs, it is a fine choice.
4. The Maline
Probably even less well known than the Cornish, the Maline was originally bred in Belgium, Europe. But it rivals even the Jersey Giant in size! It can weigh up to 12 lbs and, like Jersey is a gentle giant.
In the 1800s the Belgians started mixing all the large chicken breeds together, including Langshans and Brahmas, and ended up with the Maline!
It is a pretty grey and white color, known as cuckoo coloring You will also get plenty of big eggs, up to 150 large brown eggs a year.
This breed is a great choice for the first-time chicken keeper, it is hardy, well-tempered, and great to look at.
5. The Buff Orpington
Next up in the major league of chickens is the Orpington. Commonly known as the Buff Orpington, but this breed actually comes in many different colors, from Chocolate to Lavender Colombian!
It’s not just colorful, it’s also big. Weighing up to 10lbs and therefore giving plenty of meat, they also give plenty of eggs. Up to 280 light brown eggs are laid each year. That’s a lot of omelets!
Traditionally used for meat, they also make great pets for the backyard.
6. The Dong Tao
You almost certainly will not have heard of this one!
Bred almost only in Vietnam, this breed is also known as the Dragon Chicken. It can weigh up to 13 lbs, with a good bit of this from his legs! The Dong Tao has the thickest legs of any chicken breed, almost as thick as your wrist!
Once seen, the Dragon Chicken is never forgotten.
It is highly prized in Vietnam for its meat, which is expensive and served as a delicacy.
They do lay eggs, but their fat feet often smash them before they can be collected!
7. The Australorp
This breed was started in Australia, using the Orpington breed. It didn’t take a genius to come up with Australorp as a name for the new breed!
Sitting well in the second rank of heavyweight hens, this breed can get up to 10lbs. But it is also a prolific egg layer, delivering up to 300 eggs into its nesting box each year.
Back in the 1920s, it was a record-breaking egg layer!
It is a beautiful dark black color with an upright figure. It looks very proud as it struts around the yard.
8. The Malay
The Malay is an unusual breed but favored by a few for its meat. It is not so much heavy, as tall. It may only weigh up to around 7lbs, but it can stand up to 36 inches tall! Some can peck the food off your dining table!
It originates from Asia and there are now very few breeders. Probably because this is no friendly farmyard pet. It is bossy, quarrelsome, and doesn’t take kindly to confinement.
They are unkind to each other and to their chicks and so need a lot of attention.
Added to this they don’t lay many eggs. You can see why they are not such a popular choice. But if you don’t mind a bad-tempered bird in the yard, this one’s height certainly makes it an eyecatcher!
9. The Rhode Island Red
The State Bird of, yes, Rhode Island makes it into our Top 15 by growing up to around 9lbs in weight in adulthood.
Despite being crossbred in the late 1800s with the not so likable Malay (see above), the RIR is a very popular choice among backyard chicken breeders. A gentle and inquisitive nature, an egg nearly every day, and happy in most climates, what’s not to love?
While it doesn’t have the most colorful of feathers, it does come in a range of lovely red and brown shades, nicely complemented by long yellow legs.
Kept by most owners for the number of eggs they lay, they also offer tasty meat.
10. The New Hampshire Red
Yes, another red chicken. And yes, it’s from New Hampshire. No prizes for guessing that correctly!
Developed in 1915 from the Rhode Island Red, it was bred for fast growth and early maturity. Like the RIR it gets up to around 9lb when fully grown and lays plenty of eggs.
It is a happy-go-clucky hen who loves roaming free-range around a yard. They are happy in colder climates and are known as good winter layers.
Being a popular breed they are easy to find and relatively inexpensive to buy, making them a popular choice for those after a breed to provide chicken meat.
11. The Langshan
This breed covers a range of birds bred around the world, from the Australian Langshan to the German Langshan, and some others in between! But it originated in China.
It is not so heavy, at approx 8-9lbs, but does have a very upright posture, making it a tall bird. Long legs and a long, upright neck make the bird look bigger than it really is. It also makes it look very proud and regal like it thinks itself ruler of the roost.
Uniformly black with a bright red comb, they are heavy layers and provide a lot of rich, white meat.
12. The Delaware
Originally called the ‘Indian River’, Delaware is a fairly new breed of chicken. It was developed in the 1940s as a broiler chicken, meaning it was bred as a breed for its meat, rather than its eggs.
Although it is no slouch when it comes to laying eggs, so it was a reasonably popular breed. The eggs are large and brown, and the bird does well in the backyard, but its popularity has declined for some reason. It is now considered endangered as a breed.
While it is by no means the biggest on the list, it is a very quick grower and can be taken for meat from an early age.
The adult female will reach about 7lbs in weight. They are generally white, with some black around the neck and tail.
Why has this gorgeous chicken become so unpopular? We don’t know, but we think it is time to bring it back into our backyards.
13. The Plymouth Rock
This breed commonly gets called the Barred Rock, however, the Barred Rock is the black and white version of the Plymouth rock. Barred meaning black and white.
The Barred Rock has the reputation as the chicken that kept the US going through WW2. It was a hugely popular factory-raised broiler bird, processed for the generous amount of meat each bird provides. Add in the egg production as well, and we have a lot to thank this bird for!
Nowadays, the bird grows to nearly 7lbs and lays plenty of eggs and so is a popular choice for the backyard chicken enthusiast.
14. The Cochin
OK, so it’s not the biggest breed of chicken, but it is certainly one of the fluffiest!
While it is considered a ‘large’ breed, it only gets up to around 8 or 9lbs, and most of that seems to be feathers! They are like a ball of feathers bobbing around the yard.
Their exotic look and variety of colors made them a favorite of Queen Victoria of England in the 1900s and their popularity took off from there.
Although they only lay about 150 eggs a year, they are great lookers and give good meat. However, while they are friendly, they are quite fussy and needy and are only really happy in certain conditions. For this reason, their popularity has diminished and they are now quite rare.
15. The Belgian
Last, but by no means least, the Belgian. Or rather, the Luikse Vechter. Although it is sometimes known as ‘the Belgian’, the term Belgian can refer to several different breeds, of which the Luikse is one. It’s also a very rare one.
Originally bred in Belgium as a gamecock, or fighting bird, it is now only bred as a show bird.
But it makes the list because it is 8 or 9lbs of powerful muscle, and stands very tall and proud.
It would win a fight with any of the above breeds!
Well, there we are. 15 of the biggest and best chicken breeds. Have you chosen your favorite?
Perhaps you have already made up your mind. Or maybe you are not quite sure if a large breed is quite right for you.
Let’s have a look at some common questions and see if it helps make a decision.
Do I want a big chicken?
Many people go for the bigger breeds because they want meat, not just the eggs. And bigger birds give more meat. You can get eggs for a while as they grow and then look forward to a tasty dinner.
Bigger birds are often good-natured and make great pets.
Will I get bigger eggs from bigger birds?
Well, probably yes, but not always. Most breeds of large chickens will give large to jumbo eggs but check your breed carefully as this is not always the case.
Is it more work to raise larger chickens?
Not really. Once you have a coop strong enough and with enough run space, and with nest boxes big enough, they are pretty much the same work. Feeding, watering, mucking out, etc stays almost the same. Except they require more feed and more water, of course, but that’s just a bigger scoop or maybe a bigger trough.
Are bigger birds more bad-tempered than small ones?
There is no evidence to show this is the case. In fact, larger birds are often very well-tempered and can make great backyard pets for children. Of course, some breeds are better for this than others, but this is the same with smaller breeds.
Are bigger breeds more likely to escape?
Larger chickens obviously weigh more than smaller ones, so they can put more force on wire guards and fences, etc. So make sure the coop is robust enough. Bigger birds actually find flying harder because of the weight issue, so they are less likely to try and fly away.
Most breeds are quite inquisitive by nature, and therefore like to explore new areas. But they are not actively trying to escape!
I hope you have enjoyed the article and have found the information you need.
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