Choose the Best Cold Tolerant Chicken Breeds for Your Homestead
Cold tolerant chicken breeds are a hardy livestock choice for northern homesteads! There are many different characteristics to consider when choosing chickens breeds. Most homesteaders want breeds that lay a lot of eggs or hens that go broody and raise their own chicks. Another important consideration is how hardy your hens are for your climate.
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Cold Tolerant Chicken Breeds
Here are some of the best chicken breeds for cold climates:
- Rhode Island Reds – Best layer!
- Ameraucana or Easter Egger – Also heat tolerant!
- Black Australorp
- Buff Orpington
- Barred Plymouth Rock & White Plymouth Rock- Also heat tolerant!
- Golden Laced Wyandotte & Columbian Wyandotte
- Black Jersey Giant
- Light Brahma
- New Hampshire Red – Good meat producer
- Speckled Sussex
- Cuckoo Maran
- Turken or Naked Neck – Also heat tolerant!
Icelandic chickens are also very cold tolerant, but they can be very difficult to find and purchase.
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How to Help Your Flock Deal with Cold Weather
Provide your chickens with a draft-free coop, water that isn’t frozen, and a good quality feed to help them deal with cold weather. Some cracked corn or black oil sunflower seed fed to your flock in the evening will help increase their body temperature during the overnight lows. Don’t feed too much or their body fat could interfere with laying!
When temperatures dip, coat their combs and wattles with homemade petroleum free jelly to help protect from frostbite.
Provide your chickens with a 2×4″ for their roosting bar instead of a round pole. The flat surface allows them to tuck their toes into their feathers to prevent frostbite on their feet overnight.
Supplemental heat may be necessary if you live in the extreme north. Heat lamps can be dangerous if not used properly. Consider a safer source of heat, such as a Cozy Products Safe Chicken Heater.
Some homesteaders use the deep litter method to help keep the coop warm over the winter. Be sure to use bedding that absorbs moisture and provide adequate ventilation if you choose to try this.
It’s Easier to Keep Hens Warm in Winter Than to Keep Them Cool in Summer!
Cold tolerant chicken breeds will fare much better in cold weather than any breed will when the weather gets hot and humid. You can add a heat source to the coop and feed them extra corn to increase their body heat in winter. However, in summer you can lose chickens to extreme heat if you aren’t careful. Stay tuned for the best chicken breeds for hot climates!
What are your favorite chicken breeds for cold climates?
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In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.