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20 Cold-Hardy Chicken Breeds

If you live in the extreme cold climates, choosing cold-hardy chicken breeds is a good idea.

Chickens tend to be cold-hardy in general, handling the winter months far better than the heat of the summer.

But certain breeds, such as those with large combs and wattles, those with smaller body masses, and some of the more fragile breeds don't do as well in the winter as those breeds that are considered more cold-hardy.

Traits and Characteristics of Cold-Hardy Chicken Breeds

Frostbite is a concern of course in chicken flocks in cold climates. Chicken combs, wattles and even toes are all susceptible to frostbite. Cold-hardy breeds tend to have small combs and sometimes feathers on their legs and feet.

Many breeds stop laying completely in the winter due to shorter days and the need to expend all their energy keeping warm in the extreme  cold. But the cold-hardy breeds will often continue to lay through the winter, albeit at a slower rate.

Cold-hardy breeds, for the most part, all share some basic characteristics including:

  •  small combs and wattles
  • fairly large body mass 
  • feathered feet (in some cases)
  • originating in a cold climate

All of which helps them handle cold temperatures far better than other breeds.

Sure you could heat your coop (although I caution against it for these reasons), you could insulate your coop or use the Deep Litter Method to create some natural warmth in your coop, but if you live in a northern climate, the easiest thing to do is to choose cold-hardy breeds in the first place.

20 Cold-Hardy Chicken Breeds

There is a wide selection of breeds considered particularly cold-hardy to choose from. Many times the name of the breed is a tip-off, as is the case of the Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red, Plymouth Rock, Buckeye (named for the state of Ohio) and Jersey Giant.

Some of the more popular cold-hardy chicken breeds include:

  • Ameraucana  
  • Australorp 
  • Barnevelder  
  • Brahma  
  • Buckeye
  •  Buff Orpington 
  • Cochin
  • Delaware 
  • Dominique  
  • Easter Egger
  • Faverolle  
  • Jersey Giant  
  • Marans 
  • New Hampshire Red  
  • Plymouth Rock  
  • Rhode Island Red 
  • Sussex  
  • Welsummer  
  • Wyandotte

Read my Cold Weather Chicken Care Guide, Winterizing your Flock  and Easy Ways to Keep your Water from Freezing for more tips on caring for your chickens this winter.

If you live in a warmer climate, then consider some of the Heat-Hardy breeds instead. Most will do just fine in cold weather, but be better equipped to handle the summer heat.

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