What is the Largest Chicken Breed (TOP 12 BREEDS)
If you’re hoping to raise chickens for either egg or meat production, you may be asking yourself what the biggest chicken breed is. As a chicken owner, you understandably want to select a bird that can yield you not only a ton of meat, but also a fair amount of eggs. You need to get your money’s worth out of your birds!
So what is the largest chicken breed? Although it’s a Brahma rooster that holds the world record as the largest chicken, the Jersey Giant is the largest chicken breed in the world.
There are plenty of other uniformly large breeds to consider, too, including Malines, Cornishes, and more. If you’re in the market for the largest chicken breed, you will want to consider some of these biggest breeds.
What is the Biggest Chicken in the World
A Brahma rooster from Kosovo holds the current world record for the biggest chicken. This bird tops out at 16.5 lb and stands nearly three feet tall.
At about four pounds heavier than average, this chicken is a lot bigger than your typical Brahma – but Brahmas, surprisingly, aren’t always considered the biggest in the chicken world. There are some other hefty breeds of birds to consider, too.
What are the Largest Chicken Breeds to Consider
1. Jersey Giant
Without a doubt, the Jersey Giant is, on average, the largest chicken breed you can find. A heritage breed, it originated in the state of New Jersey in the 1800s as a marketable alternative to meat turkeys – so you can imagine how big it is. With up to 200 eggs laid each year, it’s also a productive laying chicken.
Roosters can weigh more than 15 lb and usually stand around two feet tall. Jersey Giants are usually bigger than Brahmas, but there is always some natural variation among individuals in a breed – hence the shattering of the record by a Brahma bird instead of by a Jersey Giant.
Full-sized Brahma roosters ordinary weigh around 10 lb. They generally don’t grow more than two feet tall, either – meaning the world record bird was more of an anomaly than anything else. However, these feather-footed chickens are great egg-layers, giving you roughly 300 eggs every year, and are also popular exhibition animals.
Although you shouldn’t expect a giant like the one in Kosovo, you can still anticipate large birds when you raise Brahma chickens.
The Maline chicken can be tough to find, as it is a rare chicken breed. However, it’s also one of the biggest, rivaling the Jersey Giant in its size. It can set records at up to twelve pounds, with both roosters and hens sporting gorgeous cuckoo-patterned feathers.
Cornish chickens originated in the United Kingdom in the 1800s. These birds have square, squat bodies and tip the scales at 10 lb on average. A parent breed of the beloved contemporary Cornish Rock chicken breed, these birds are known for their ability to produce ample quantities of meat.
The Orpington is another heritage breed that is dual-purpose (used for meat and egg production). First bred in Orpington, Great Britain, this chicken can be found in many varieties of colors. It weighs about 10 lb and is a perfect option for people with families, as it’s great around children.
The Malay chicken is not the heftiest chicken breed you will find, but it’s the tallest. Hailed as the tallest bird in the chicken world, the Malay can grow to a statuesque 30 inches tall. Malay roosters generally weigh about nine pounds, with hens laying around 100 eggs per annum.
The Langshan breed is originally from China, traveling to the Americas in the 1800s. A feather-footed kind, this resilient black-colored chicken usually weighs about 9.5 lb and can produce up to 180 eggs in just one calendar year. Possessing excellent natural foraging abilities, this chicken produces delicious meat and can also be raised for eggs.
8. Barred Rock
Barred Rock chickens are popular American birds, having been around since the 18th century. Roosters can clock in at 7 lb and are known for their friendly dispositions. The hens also produce an exceptional 280 eggs per annum.
9. New Hampshire Red
New Hampshire Reds originated in 1937, when the breed was developed with the goal of growing quickly, feathering out rapidly – and otherwise maturing in the least amount of time possible.
Today, New Hampshire roosters weigh in at roughly 8.5 lb, while hens are about 6.5 lb. Characterized by a thick, red-colored body, this bird is one of the best large chicken breeds to raise if you live in a cold environment, as it’s exceptionally winter-hardy.
The Delaware chicken is a cross between a New Hampshire hen and a Barred Plymouth Rock. Popular for its gorgeous white feathering, this chicken is perhaps not the overall largest chicken breed, but it happens to be one of the quickest-growing. Roosters average eight pounds while females weigh in at around six. These birds are quite friendly and are also exceptional layers.
11. Dong Tao
The Dong Tao is a super rare chicken that is native to Vietnam. Prized for its meat, this chicken has large, awkward-looking legs that make it a challenge for the bird to successfully lay eggs without crushing them. They often aren’t kept for this reason, but they are hefty, coming in at around eleven to twelve pounds on average.
Cochin chickens are fluffy birds that lay consistent amounts of eggs. They’re also quite cold-hardy. There are bantam (or miniature) versions of Cochins available if you don’t want a massive bird.
Otherwise, they weigh about five pounds on average and are known for their fluffy appearances and easygoing demeanors. Although the Cochin chicken isn’t the largest chicken breed on this list, it’s a friendly bird that is also prized for its ability to go broody – a plus if you want to hatch your own baby chicks without the need for an incubator.
Housing for Large Chicken Breeds
Raising large chickens isn’t for the faint of heart – you will need to make a few adjustments in how you set up your coop, run, and feeding stations. With a bit of extra attention to the needs of your large birds, however, this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.
The biggest adjustment you will need to make is how you set up your coop. In general, each chicken needs about three square feet of living space in a coop, with an additional eight in the run. Allow for a bit more – at least another square foot – per bird if you are raising one of these large breeds. If you can provide your chickens with access to fresh pasture each day, that’s all the better.
Providing your large chickens with lots of room to roam and forage won’t only allow them to grow more quickly and vigorously, but it will also prevent health and behavioral problems. Large chickens who are crowded together in cramped living quarters are more prone to fighting and cannibalism – they are also more likely to get sick with contagious diseases, pests, and parasites.
You will need to increase the size of your nesting boxes, too. Some large chicken breeds, like Brahmas, are nearly twice the size of the most popular egg-laying hens. Therefore, fitting into a small nest box might not be possible for these goliaths.
The same rule applies to roost bars – if you only have flimsy roost bars designed to support the weight of a light, flighty egg layer, they probably aren’t going to support the weight of a heftier meat bird. Consider upgrading to a roost bar made out of sturdy 2×4 wood instead.
You might also need to upgrade the size of your coop door, too. If you only have a small pop door, the larger breeds of chickens may not be small enough to fit inside. Make sure you have plenty of room for your birds to travel in and out of your coop without any issues. Large chicken breeds are usually less flighty than smaller birds, so you likely won’t need to install super tall fences.
Benefits and Challenges of Large Chicken Breeds
The good news is that larger chicken breeds tend to be more cold-hardy since they have more fat and feathers to keep them warm. Many of the large chicken breeds have feathered feet, which can be a blessing and a curse. The feathers help keep them warm, but if they get wet, they can cause hypothermia. Keep this in mind when designing your coop and run.
Generally, chickens that are known for their size often aren’t the best egg producers. Most large breed chickens are not birds known for having great egg production. Some of the smallest chickens, like White Leghorns, are known for their laying abilities. That being said, there are some large breed chickens, like Orpingtons and Jersey Giants, that produce a respectable amount of eggs – so you don’t have to holy sacrifice one type of production for another.
Many of the large breed chickens we discussed are also quite friendly. They often tend to be more easygoing, relying on their size to do the talking instead of aggressive personalities. If you have other chicken breeds in your flock, you shouldn’t have to be concerned with too much infighting. This does, of course, vary among individuals in a flock.
Now that you are aware of the best and biggest chicken breeds out there, you will be able to raise the bird that works best for you, the amount of space you have available, and your climate. Whether you want an ample amount of fresh chicken on the dinner table or want a behemoth chicken just to intimidate or amaze your neighbors, these breeds are sure to make the cut each and every time.