Just like there are different breeds of dogs, cats, cows, and everything else- chickens have many different breeds also.
Here we raise Sunnyside Rangers, Heritage Cross (AKA Special Blacks), & Barred Rocks. We also have 2 Leghorns that are roughly 8 years old- Still laying eggs! My two old ladies are from my original flock that I had before we even moved here! In fact they were my first farm animals! They were supposed to be "soup chickens" when I got them so long ago! In fact, those two "old ladies" have sat on eggs twice now and hatched their own babies! Most of which are still roaming around here! Our big rooster is from one of them! Now, he looks after his mom!
We have done one batch of the Jumbo Broilers. And while they produce the most meat, quickly. They do poorly free-range- which everyone told me that! But if you know me at all, you know that I have to try things for myself. I was positive they would still have instinct if we gave them the opportunity to free range...nope. Not even a little bit. They are just grown for meat. Super fast meat. The broiler is your normal chicken that you get from the store. One huge difference in these birds were the bones. They are thing and fragile. They had the biggest chicken breasts, not a lot of leg meat, and really not great bones for broth.
The Sunnyside Rangers are really the best all around birds we have raised here. They are excellent free-rangers. They have an excellent temperament. They grow in a reasonable amount of time. We have even had a few miss processing dates that are now laying eggs! Big eggs too! They take us about 100 days to get 6.5-7lb chickens finished out! Which is longer than it probably should take, but we aren't too pushy here to make them grow fast! Their bones make pretty good broth, too!
Now, we also did a whole bunch of "Special black" chicken which is a cross between several heritage breed chickens. These guys take about 160-180 days to grow. So quite a bit slower than the Rangers, but the meat is fantastic! And the broth I made from their bones is the most beautiful golden deliciousness I have ever seen in broth! The trouble we had with these though was that we had 100+ roosters. Which we have not had an issue with because the rangers get processed before the roosters hit full manhood behavior. But with the Special Blacks they still need time to grow, even after they have hit maturity. Also, the rooster matured about 2 weeks earlier than the hens. Which means that my few old lady hens were the only ones that all those 100+ rooster were interested in! It became kind of messy and violent, so thankfully our processor squeezed us in so we didn't have too many casualties to testosterone overload ( I don't even know if that is what makes rooster crazy, but sounds good)!
The barred rocks that we have do not seem as hardy as the other breeds and they grow much slower! I do not have much to say about them yet because they are still out there growing!
So that is my little overview of the breeds of chicken that we raise! If you have any questions shoot me a message- or better yet give Sunnyside Hatchery a call! They are located in Beaver Dam, WI and totally rock at explaining the breeds and what might work best for your set up!