10 Chicken Breeds Best for Cold Climates

Written by Kayeleen Parsons
Updated: June 2, 2023
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Key Points

  • If you want eggs year-round, consider the breed of your chicken to ensure cold-weather production. Some breeds are better than others.
  • Chickens are naturally adaptable to cold temperatures and have their own tricks for staying warm.
  • There are some things you can do to keep their habitat suitable for the cold, including coop ventilation and a nutritious diet.

There are many necessary things to consider when selecting chicken breeds for cold climates. For example, most farmers want breeds that lay many eggs, while others prefer chickens that brood and raise their chicks. Another important consideration is how hardy your chickens are for your climate.

There are various possibilities for people who want to grow chickens in chilly climates. So let’s look at the ten chicken varieties for cold areas, so you may learn about each one and choose the one that’s right for your flock.

Chicken Breeds For Cold Climates

1. Ameraucana

Ameraucana Chicken Sitting in Fence

An Ameraucana Chicken lays blue eggs.

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©Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock.com

Ameraucana chickens originate from a breed called Araucana chickens in Chile. These versatile birds lay blue eggs! They also have an unusual resistance to cold temperatures. They have pea combs, which are very small and cannot freeze.

2. Australorp

A Black Australorp rooster walking along eating in a field of grass and clover.

A Black Australorp

rooster

eats in a field of grass and clover. An Australorp hen can lay more than 300 eggs!

©JoshWhitcomb/Shutterstock.com

The Australorp is a breed of chicken of Australian origin that developed as a livestock bird focused on egg laying, known to lay more than 300 eggs. It became well-known worldwide in the 1920s after the breed repeatedly broke records for the number of eggs laid, and it has remained so in the Western world ever since.

3. Buckeye

Two hens

Buckeye chickens are the only female-bred American breed approved by the American Poultry Federation on the market today.


Image: Nellie Thorngate, Shutterstock

©Nellie Thorngate/Shutterstock.com

This breed of chicken originated in Buckeye-Ohio State in the early 19th century. The Buckeye still holds the title of the only female-bred American breed approved by the American Poultry Association. The buckeye chicken supplies eggs or meat. Additionally, buckeye hens can lay up to 200 eggs annually, which is excellent laying.

4. Chantecler

Chantecler Rooster showing  the entire body with wattle, comb, shackles and beak standing in a farmyard.

Chanteclers have been bred to have small combs and wattles to better withstand cold weather.


Image: Pat Stornebrink, Shutterstock

©Pat Stornebrink/Shutterstock.com

Chanteclers are the first Canadian breed ever. Developed for good egg and meat production and high hardiness even in the coldest winters. To this end, they have particularly small combs and wattles. Although a rare bird to find, this is a great breed to consider for your domestic herd.

5. Cochin

Hen vs Chicken

Cochin chickens are well-known worldwide as large, friendly balls of fluff and feathers.

©penphoto/Shutterstock.com

The Asian domestic chicken breed called the Cochin originated in China and was mainly bred in the early 1850s. Cochin chickens are popular and well-known worldwide as large, friendly balls of fluff and feathers. As a distinctive breed of chicken, Cochin chickens have become very popular among poultry lovers making this bird one of the giant breeds available today.

6. Dominique

Hertiage Pure Bred Show Dominique Rooster and Hen

Dominique chickens originated in the early colonial period of the United States.


Image: The Jungle Explorer, Shutterstock

©The Jungle Explorer/Shutterstock.com

Dominique chickens were first thought to have originated in the early colonial period of the United States. Created by natural selection and selective breeding of chickens brought to the United States from Europe. They soon became popular in New England and the surrounding early colonies.

In the 1870s, various breeds derived from the Dominique chicken. The Barred Plymouth Rock is far superior to the Dominique chicken as a laying chicken.

7. Faverolles

salmon faverolles cock and hens, hencoop

Faverolles were originally bred in France for their meat.


Image: Maryna Pugachova, Shutterstock

©Maryna Pugachova/Shutterstock.com

The Faverolles chicken is a farm bird originating in France. Initially bred for their meat, they eventually proved to be good layers, laying decent-sized eggs, thus becoming authentic dual-purpose chickens.

8. Speckled Sussex

Old Speckled Sussex hen resting on the ground in the background, these chicken breeds are great for cold climates

Speckled Sussex are known it is now a breed known for both its meat and eggs

©Adeline Weyland/Shutterstock.com

Early in the 19th century, a dual-purpose breed of chicken called the Speckled Sussex emerged in Sussex County, England. It was initially bred mainly as a table bird. However, it is now a breed known for both its meat and eggs. These days, several nations enjoy the Speckled Sussex.

9. Welsummer

Chicken of the breed welsumer in the garden

Welsummer chickens are known for their extra-large dark-brown eggs.


Image: Katrin Friedl Fotografie, Shutterstock

©Katrin Friedl Fotografie/Shutterstock.com

In 1880 in the Dutch village of Welsum, near the city of Deventer, the Welsummer chicken first appeared in farms and neighboring communities. The Welsummer chicken was known for its enormous, dark brown eggs. These birds are believed to have elements of the Brahma, Cochin, Malay, the dark-egg-laying Croad Langshan, and later, the Rhode Island Red and Brown Leghorn.

10. Wyandotte

Wyandotte chickens are known for their winter egg-laying.

©Nick Beer/Shutterstock.com

Wyandottes were initially bred in North America as prolific utility birds. However, they became well-known for their winter laying right away, producing cockerels that were big and meaty enough to serve as a satisfying family feast. The American Breed Standard officially recognized the Wyandotte breed in 1883.

How Long Do Chickens Live?

At approximately six months of age, males can produce viable sperm, and females can produce viable eggs. Chickens in free-ranging flocks live for an average of six to eight years. In the wild, the common predators include bobcatsfoxescoyotessnakesskunksopossumsraccoonsweasels, and birds of prey.

However, the majority used in the poultry industry lay eggs for only two to three years before being slaughtered for their meat. The oldest living chicken on record, a hen named Matilda from Alabama, lived to 16 years of age.

Is It Normal For Chickens To Stay Outside In The Cold?

Even in the very cold winter, chickens are well-adapted to survive. They can generate warmth for themselves, even when the temperatures dip into the teens’ Fahrenheit. Their feathers provide a warm coat, and they can fluff them to make them more tolerable when it is very cold.

You also might see them eat more, huddle together, and produce fewer eggs. They would much prefer 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, but they can stay outside in cooler weather! To ensure you have a cold-weather tolerable flock, look into the species we mention above if you live in a colder-climate location.

automatic chicken coop door

You can do a few things to get your chicken coop ready for the winter.

©Cynthia Farmer/Shutterstock.com

How To Keep Your Chickens Warm If It Gets Cold

Avoid cold drafts: If your coop has slats or cracks, seal the open areas with plywood or plastic sheeting before winter to keep your chickens from getting cold.

Ensure sufficient coop ventilation: During the winter, the likelihood of moldy bedding, respiratory illnesses, and frostbite on their delicate combs and wattles will rise due to an accumulation of ammonia and moisture from their breath and droppings! Therefore, make sure the coop has low humidity levels and excellent ventilation.

Encourage safe roaming: Winterize their outdoor area and the chicken coop to entice them to play outside. Additionally, they will be happy to have a spot where they can get some much-needed sunlight and fresh air. Canvases or durable plastic sheets can cover a run region’s top or sides to protect from the breeze, downpours, and snow.

Supply a nutritional diet: Chickens often take a break from egg-laying during the winter. Their body switches from requiring a diet high in protein for the development of eggs to one higher in carbs, which can be used to supply raw energy and stay warm during this time. As a result, keep offering and feeding them your standard layer feed to give them the well-balanced nourishment they require.

Summary of 10 Chicken Breeds Best for Cold Climates

#ChickenInteresting Fact
1AmeraucanaLays blue eggs
2AustralorpLays more than 300 eggs per year
3 BuckeyeOnly female-bred chicken recognized by the American Poultry Association
4ChanteclerBred for cold conditions with small combs and wattles
5CochinBred in China – popular for being large, friendly puff balls
6DominiqueOriginated in colonial U.S.
7FaverollesOriginated in France
8Speckled SussexBred in England as a table bird
9WelsummerKnown for its enormous, dark-brown eggs
10WyandotteKnown for their winter egg-laying

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Kayeleen Parsons is a writer at A-Z Animals that thoroughly enjoys writing about animals of all types. She has a love for many animals, but her Cocker Spaniel dog holds a special place in her heart. In addition to being a writer, she's also an English teacher, sharing her knowledge to help her students become excellent in the language and literature. When she's not busy writing, Kayeleen enjoys reading and spending quality time with her family in her homeland of Cape Town.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How do you protect chickens from cold weather?

  • Avoid a cold draft
  • ensure sufficient coop circulation
  • fetch a protected outside area
  • supply a nutritional diet

Are chickens affected by cold weather?

Chickens can survive cold weather because their feathers provide great insulation, which protects them from the cold.

Which chicken breeds are best for winter?

Orpingtons, Australorps and Speckled Sussex

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. the happy chicken coop, Available here: https://www.thehappychickencoop.com/7-chicken-breeds-that-do-well-in-cold-climates/
  2. the cape coop, Available here: https://thecapecoop.com/6-chicken-breeds-perfect-for-cold-climates-and-2-that-are-not/
  3. chicken and more, Available here: https://www.chickensandmore.com/cold-hardy-chickens/