The Best Heat Tolerant Chicken Breeds
Heat tolerant chicken breeds are a great choice for homesteaders who live in southern climates. Chickens have trouble dealing with extreme heat in the summer but some breeds adapt better than others. If you live in an area with hot humid weather, raise these chickens! They will lay more eggs and be less susceptible to heat stroke than many breeds.
So what make some chicken breeds heat tolerant while others suffer in the summer? Chicken breeds tolerant of hot climates tend to have large combs and wattles and a smaller body size. Why does this help them deal with heat?
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How Chickens Stay Cool in Summer
Chicken combs and wattles have a high concentration of tiny blood vessels (capillaries). Those capillaries circulate blood, and body heat, close to the surface of the skin. This is a natural cooling system because it allows body heat to dissapate from the combs and wattles into the air. So chicken breeds with large combs and wattles have more surface area with capillaries to give off their excess body heat and keep them cool.
Chickens with a smaller body mass have a higher surface area to body weight ratio, which also helps keep them cool in hot weather. So breeds like the White Leghorn, with their small body size and large combs and wattles, do much better in hot weather than large breeds with pea combs.
Choose Heat Tolerant Chicken Breeds if You Live in a Hot Climate
If you live in a hot climate, like the southern states, it just makes sense to raise chickens that can handle more heat. Hot weather will stress chickens out and cause them to slow egg production, or stop altogether if they can’t cool down. There are some things you can do to help your flock chill out, and we’ll discuss those measures in a moment. But start out right by choosing any of the following breeds for your homestead if you live in a hot climate.
Raise your meat chickens during a cool time of the year for best results. Meat chickens have more body mass and may not gain weight as desired during hot weather.
Best Heat Tolerant Chicken Breeds for Hot Weather
- White Leghorns – Best Layer! & Brown Leghorn
- Rhode Island Reds – Best brown egg layer, also cold tolerant!
- Black Sumatra or Blue Sumatra
- Egyptian Fayoumi
- White Plymouth Rock & Barred Plymouth Rock – Also cold tolerant!
- Ameraucana or Easter Egger – Also cold tolerant!
- Turken or Naked Neck – Also cold tolerant!
- Appenzeller Spitzhauben
- Silver Spangled Hamburg
- Blue Andalusian
- Sicilian Buttercup
- Golden Campine
How to Help Your Flock Deal with Hot Weather
There are some things you can do to reduce heat-related stress in your flock:
- Provide ventilation in their coop to pull fresh air in and move hot air out
- An evaporator system may be used if the temperatures aren’t too hot
- Provide a lot of shade in their pen
- Put a sprinkler on in their pasture to help cool things down
- Plant a shade tree on the south side of the coop
- Provide water dishes in several places, including in the shade
- Put ice in their water
- Give your flock several shallow pans of water that they may stand in to cool down
- Supply vitamins and electrolytes in their water
- Don’t feed corn, sunflower seeds, or other high-fat foods in summer
- Reduce bedding in the coop, do not use deep litter method in summer
- Use a barn fan to blow air into the coop to cool birds
- Start heat reduction methods before severe heat sets in to help them acclimate
- Spritz stressed birds down with cool water if they act lethargic
Pick the Best Chicken Breeds for Your Homestead
If you are planning to add chickens to your homestead, start out right by choosing the breeds that will do best in your climate. If you already have breeds that aren’t the best fit, consider phasing out that breed and replacing them with one that is a better fit for your conditions and needs. Hens that stop laying eggs due to heat stress are not a cost effective breed for homesteaders in hot climates.
If you live in a northern climate and need chicken breeds that are cold hardy, check out my article 16 Best Cold Tolerant Chicken Breeds. There are some breeds that do well in both hot and cold climates and those are indicated in the list
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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.