Most of us, when we picture chickens, we imagine our small flock, we raised from chicks, running around the barnyard dwarfed by our larger livestock (cow, goats, horses, etc). However, sometimes we come across some absolutely massive birds! Today we are going to figure out what some of the largest chicken breeds really are.
What Are The Largest Chicken Breeds?
The Jersey Giant is alone at the very top of our largest chicken breeds list. In fact, they tower over any other of are the largest chicken breeds in the world today. But they are not alone. There are many, many very large chicken breeds. In fact, we are going to take a look at a dozen of them today. For the most part, we will be using weight as a deciding factor. However, there are a few others that make the list for more unique reasons.
Let's get straight to the list!
1. The Jersey Giant
Let's start out big. As we said, the Jersey Giant is, by far, the largest chicken breed in the world. Fortunately for us all, this bird qualifies as a gentle giant. In fact, you'd have a hard time finding a gentler, more friendly chicken breed than the Jersey Giant..
As their name suggests, the Jersey Giant was created in New Jersey by John and Thomas Black. The reason it is so large is they had intended to breed them as an alternative to turkeys as meat birds. However, they did not last long in the poultry industry because the Jersey Giant, despite being so big, takes a long time to reach its full size.
They barely eked out over the Brahma because they are so tall and heavy. The roosters, on average, stand about 24 inches tall, or 2 feet, and weigh around 15 pounds. The hens alone easily grow up to 10 pounds.
2. The Brahma Chicken
Barely coming in behind the Jersey Giant is the Brahma. A Brahma rooster will generally weigh around 12 pounds with the Brahma hen coming in at just under 10 pounds, on average. However, there have been recordings of them growing much larger; roosters at 18 pounds and hens at 13 pounds!
The Brahma is an American bred bird that is a combination of many breeds imported from China, specifically Shanghai. They were the primary meat bird in the United states up until around 1930.
As you can tell, they grow quite large and make great meat birds. While they are not as steady at egg production as the Australorp may be, they still will give you around 3 or so eggs a week.
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The Maline is a fantastic chicken breed. They make a great dual purpose breed, growing large enough for meat and laying around 150 eggs in a year. Plus, their relaxed personality makes them perfect for a backyard flock.
It has a striking feather pattern that was derived by breeding cuckoo chickens from Antwerp in France with imported birds from China and surrounding areas. They will grow to be around 9 pounds, for a hen, and 12 pounds, for a rooster.
4. Dong Tao
The Dong Tao is the rarest, and possibly, most unique looking chicken on this list. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any pictures we could repost. But take note, there is no exaggeration when we learned they also are called "Dragon Legs".
This breed is indigenous to Vietnam where they are considered a royal delicacy. They grow very large but are becoming more and more rare. Their eggs are difficult to hatch due to temperature sensitivity and because their abnormally large legs tend to crack them.
The Cornish chicken is also known as the Indian Game. It was first brought to the US in the early 1900s where it's name was changed to Cornish Indian Game and then finally settled as Cornish around 1910. It is still, however, known as the Indian Game, throughout the majority of the world. Initially it was bred for cock fighting but did not develop the agressive temperament to do so. Eventually, it was seen more as a source of food than entertainment and is still used as a cross breed for larger boiler chickens.
Cornish roosters will grow to be about 8 pounds while Cornish hens weigh around 6. Cornish hens are not a great choice for egg production; only laying around 80 to 100, at most, eggs per year
The Langshan, or Croad Langshan, is thought to have originated in the Langshan region of China. They were first imported to the United States in 1878, with each color being officially recognized as US standards; black in 1883, white in 1893, and blue in 1987.
A Langshan rooster will grow to be around 10 pounds in size with hens trailing right behind at around 8 pounds. Langshans are some of the better layers on this list, as well. You can expect to get 4 or 5 eggs a week from each hen!
Orpingtons are some of the most gentle and docile chicken breeds on this list. They get their name from their place of origin, Orpington, Kent in England, where they were initially bred by William Cook to be an all around dual purpose chicken.
Eventually this breed was used, in large part due to the wide range of colors and patterns, as an ornamental, or show, bird. Although they are mostly know as a show breed, they still are raised for both meat and egg production.
Orpingtons will grow to be about 10 punds and will lay upwards of 200 eggs in a year!
The Australorp is an Australian, dual purpose, breed of chicken. It is easily the most prolific layer on this list. It became wildly popular starting in the 1920s specifically because of it's egg laying abilities.
If you raise these birds you can expect to get an egg almost every day of the week. They will usually lay around 5 or 6 eggs a week or 250 eggs in a year! A flock of these guys is more than enough to feed a family.
The roosters typically grow to be around 10 pounds with the hens just a bit lighter at around 8 pounds. You will often find them referred to as Black Australorps or the Australian Orpington.
After the Dong Tao, the Malay chicken may be the strangest looking chicken we found while researching this article. And, again, like the Dong Tao, we were unable to find any pictures we could repost.
This is a breed that we do not really recommend for your average backyard flock. The Malay is THE most imposing chicken of all of the biggest chicken breeds on the list. Not only is it heavy, weighing around 9 pounds, but it is also very, VERY tall. In fact, Malay chickens can stand at 30 inches tall, or 2 ½ feet; making them the tallest chicken breed on this list!
On top of their ridiculous height and weight, Malay chickens are also aggressive. Mostly, this behavior is territorial, but you probably don't want an ill tempered chicken that size roaming around your backyard. Maybe think of the Malay chicken as the evolutionary progression of the Velociraptor.
10. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is probably the most popular and well known of all of the largest chicken breeds we will discuss today. Their size, egg laying ability, temperament, and personality have made them an all around perfect backyard chicken.
This breed is so great because they can thrive in just about any location. If you live in the cold, just make sure they have shelter. If you live in a hot area, give them shade and water. They are not fussy at all.
You can expect this breed to grow to around 9 pounds and lay almost every day of the week. Similar to the Australorp, the Rhode Island Red is capable of laying almost 300 eggs a year.
The Cochin is one of the smallest large breeds we have on this list. We couldn't leave them off though because they just LOOK so huge. Believe it or not, but a typical rooster will grow to be around 5 pounds. They stand around 26 inches tall, or just over 2 feet. Add in their their big, puffy feathers and they appear to be even larger.
We do recommend adding them to any flock, however. They are a very sweet bird and are safe to have around small children and pets. They are also decent layers, as well. A standard hen will probably give you 160 eggs a year.
The Belgian is the smallest chicken on our list. Unlike the Cochin, this chicken does not appear to be larger from puffy feathers. No, this chicken is sleek, lean, and muscular.
We included this breed on our list because it is very tall. If the Malay from above caught your attention, you will be happy to hear about these guys. They share the same spot as the tallest chicken breed on this list, standing around 30 inches tall, but are not nearly as aggressive. This breed is a bit more nervous and anxious, though.
If you are interested in finding some for yourself, they are also known as Liege Fighter chickens.
Breed Comparison Table
|very tall; 30+ inches tall
|Rhode Island Red
|puffy feathers make them appear larger
|lean & very tall; 30+ inches tall
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Are larger chickens more aggressive?
Larger chickens are no more aggressive than smaller birds. The size of a chicken does not really have much affect on their personality. Aggressiveness is typically a trait that varies from breed to breed.
Large breeds do tend to be a bit more laid back than smaller breeds, however. It is believed that is because, due to their size, they do not have to compete for their position in the pecking order. The smaller chickens tend to leave them alone.
Q2. Do big chickens lay big eggs?
Hen size is not always a predicter of egg size. In fact, many large breed chickens lay medium sized eggs.
Q3. Why do you need a large breed?
Whether you need a large breed or not depends on your intentions. They make fantastic meat birds. If you are looking for a sustainable, home grown protein source, the largest chicken breeds will obviously give you the most meat.
As we mentioned about aggression, they also tend to be more laid back. If you want a fairly relaxed flock, adding a few of the largest chicken breeds can be a way to accomplish that goal.
Q4. Do large breed chickens have more health problems?
Large chicken breeds do not have any more health issues than other chickens, in general. Because they are usually meat birds, they have been bred to grow large, rather quickly. This can lead to them eating in excess.
Chickens that overeat often become obese which can lead to related health issues like weak joints, impacted crops, and bumblefoot, to name a few. You can avoid these maladies by allowing them to free range and feed on a schedule as opposed to a free choice feeder.
I bet you didn't realize there were so many huge chickens out there! They are all quite exquisite in their own ways too. Maybe you will consider adding some of these to your flock in the future.
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