Can you raise chickens in a cold climate? If you choose the right breed, you shouldn’t have any problems. Here are a few tips for choosing a cold-hardy chicken breed…
If you live in a cooler climate, you may be wondering if you can still raise chickens – especially after a brutal winter like the one we had this year. The good news is, chickens are tougher than you think, and can generally take a certain degree of both cold and hot weather without a problem. However, there are some breeds that are better suited to cold weather than others. When choosing a cold-hardy chicken breed, there are a few things to consider.
Weight/size class, feathers, and comb size are three important considerations to keep in mind.
1.) Weight and size will factor in because larger and heavier chickens with more fat will tend to do better in cold climates.
Here are a few larger breeds that The Grow Network suggests for cold-hardiness:
- Plymouth Barred Rocks
- Black Australorps
- Rhode Island Reds
- Buff Orpingtons
- New Hampshire Reds
2.) Feathers help keep your chickens warm, so breeds with a lot of feathers may stay warmer. Watch out for breeds with feathered feet, however, as these may collect ice and snow. If you do keep breeds with lots of feathers on their feet, try to keep them from getting wet during extremely cold weather.
Here are a few breeds to consider:
3.) Comb size is a factor because the comb is the area that is most susceptible to frostbite. For cold climates, you may want to choose breeds with more compact combs. (Just remember that the comb helps regulate the chicken’s body temperature in hot weather, so if you have both hot summers and cold winters, you will want to choose a medium comb size.) Also, pay close attention to roosters with larger combs in the winter, and try to protect them from wind and icy conditions whenever possible.
Here are a few cold-hardy chicken breeds with smaller combs:
- White Dorkings*
* Note: The Dorking breed may have either single or rose combs. If you are looking for cold-hardy combs, choose the White Dorking with a rose comb.
Regardless of the breed you choose, remember to provide shelter and protection from the cold for your chickens during cold weather. (See our previous posts for some tips on keeping your chickens warm during the winter.)