So, What’s the Average Weight of a Chicken?

When it comes to raising livestock of any kind, and that includes poultry like chickens, watching their weight is important. No, not just for aesthetics, not all the time, but to make sure they are on target for their productivity, be it meat or eggs, and also healthy overall.

a Light Brahma rooster
a Light Brahma rooster

A chicken that’s underweight or overweight will begin to suffer in various ways. But when it comes to reaching a target weight, it’s all about statistics and averages. Speaking of, what is the average weight of a chicken?

An average rooster weighs about 7 ½ pounds, and an average hand weighs about 5 ½ pounds. The average weight of all chickens, regardless of breed or sex, is about 5 ¾ pounds.

Now, that’s a set of nice tidy numbers, sure, but that is hardly the whole story… As you probably already guessed, the subject chickens’ weight, even chickens of the same breed and same sex, is just not that cut and dry.

There’s a lot more you’ll need to know to consider yourself well-read on the subject. We’ll get into all of it down below.

Some Breeds are Much Heavier than Others

You probably already know this when it comes to chickens: some breeds are a lot heavier, and other breeds are a lot lighter.

On the heavier end of the scale, big, stout birds like the Brahma, Cornish, and Jersey Giant positively dwarf their petite cousins like the Crevecoeur, Campine, and Ancona.

It’s the same with dogs and cats, horses, and other domestic animals: some have been selectively bred for size and weight, usually as a consequence of selecting for health or better efficiency when producing meat.

Generally, but not always, the smaller varieties of chickens were selected for better efficiency and quicker growth to produce eggs quicker, and also as ornamentals, chickens that are kept as pets or showbirds.

Gaining a working knowledge of different breeds will let you categorize chickens as heavyweights or lightweights accordingly.

The Weight of a Breed Can Be Highly Variable

Just because different breeds tend to be larger or heavier doesn’t mean that’s always the case…

Some chicken breeds prove surprisingly variable when it comes to weight, meaning that there might be significant size differences in individual birds, particularly if they don’t come from the same lineage.

For instance, Cochins, Wyandottes and Orpingtons have a wide “range” when it comes to size, and you’re just as likely to see some of these birds pushing the scale upward of 9 to 10 pounds as you are seeing them significantly smaller at 7 and 1/2 lb.

As with most things, there’s always an exception to the rule…

Roosters are Heavier than Hens

One rule of thumb you can depend on, as long as all other things are equal in the comparison, is that roosters weight more than hens.

This is because, as males of the species roosters have greater muscle mass and density, thicker bones, and just grow bigger to give them an advantage when dealing with predators, competitors, or attracting the ladies.

This doesn’t mean you’ll never see a female chicken that is bigger than a rooster. Far from it! A hen from a large breed can dwarf even a world-record rooster of a much smaller breed.

But when you compare the boys to the girls among the same breed and particularly from the same line, you’ll notice that the roosters are always significantly bigger.

Large Fowl are Bigger Than Bantam Breeds

When it comes to comparing weights among chickens and particularly between breeds, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the category of chicken.

Although standards differ significantly depending on the country you are in and the governing body you’re dealing with, here in the United States we go by American Poultry Association guidelines and standards. The APA recognizes two broad categories of chickens, large fowl and bantams.

Large fowl are what you might roughly call “standard” chickens. These are your egg layers, meat producers, or dual-purpose utility birds that can do both, along with larger ornamental and pet varieties. As I rule of thumb, they will weigh at least 4 pounds and most weigh significantly more.

So even though you might have a tiny 5-pound Ayam Cemani absolutely dwarfed in the shadow of a Jersey Giant, both chickens are still considered large fowl.

Bantams Don’t Weigh Much at All!

On the other end of the categorization spectrum are the Bantams. Bantam is basically a fancy term for “miniature” when talking about chickens. Now, this can get confusing when you consider that some large fowl breeds have a corresponding bantam variety- literally just a tiny version of the bigger birds!

Other bantams don’t have a “parent” standard breed, and are considered true bantams, meaning they were created naturally this way and then later on domesticated.

But whatever kind of bantam birds you’re talking about, their weight is usually measured in ounces, not pounds, except as a matter of convenience. A bantam rooster can weigh as little as a pound, and maxes out at about 3 ½ pounds at the absolute most.

Hens are even lighter, with some bantam girls weighing under a pound, and most weighing just 2 to 2 ½.

What’s the Heaviest Chicken Breed?

The heaviest APA-recognized chicken breed is the Jersey Giant, with roosters weighing on average about 13 pounds and capable of attaining an astonishing, almost unbelievable 15 pounds.

These birds, though very gentle and typically friendly, also stand quite tall at around 2 ½ feet and sometimes a little taller.

But, when it comes to sheer girth, a hybrid breed is the current world record holder. Known as the White Sully, and developed predominantly from Rhode Island Red stock, one world-beating rooster was officially recorded as weighing a comparatively colossal 22 pounds!

What’s the Lightest Chicken Breed?

The tiniest chicken in the world, without question, is the Serama. This tiny, cute bantam breed only weighs a pound, and that’s in the case of roosters. Hens are a petite 14 ounces on average.

What’s the Average Weight of a Broiler Chicken?

Today, in the United States, the average weight of a broiler chicken is about 6 1/2 pounds.

Note that this is live weight immediately before the chicken is slaughtered and processed as meat. The actual carcass yield is much lower.

Has the Average Weight of Chickens Gone Up Over the Years?

Yes, indeed it has! Seems like everything in the world has a tendency to get bigger and bigger, and indeed heavier and heavier over time. The same is true for chickens…

Using the average weight of chickens intended for slaughter and mass market consumption, we’ve seen them grow steadily from a slender 2 ½ pounds in the mid-1920s to about 6 ½ pounds today as of the last industry benchmark.

How Can You Weigh Your Chickens?

Of course, knowing all of this isn’t actually going to help you assess your chickens unless you can weigh them.

To do this, you’ve got two good options that are pretty easy. The first, and my favorite, is simply to use a suitable food or postal scale.

Grab your chicken, set up and zero the scale, then carefully set the bird down on it, making sure not to put any pressure on them. Most scales of this type can handle all but the largest chickens.

Another method is usinig a hanging scale. To weigh your chicken this way, you need to carefully put them in a cloth sack, close it around them, and then hang the bag from the scale.

Take your hands away, make a note of the reading, and then release your chicken. Believe it or not, they don’t struggle as much as you might think, and this is a workable method.

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