20 Cold-Hardy Chicken Breeds

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 considered cold-hardy.

Frostbite is a concern of course, but also 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.

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, but if you live in a northern climate, the easiest thing to do is to choose cold-hardy breeds in the first place.

There is a wide selection of breeds considered particularly cold-hardy to choose from. Some of the more popular include:

Bantam Brahma
 Buff Orpington
 Easter Egger
 Jersey Giant
New Hampshire Red
 Plymouth Rock
 Rhode Island Red

These breeds for the most part all share some basic characteristics including small combs, fairly large body mass, and the breed originating in the more northern climates - all of which helps them handle cold temperatures far better than other breeds.

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.

-This Silver-Laced Wyandottte at 1840 Farm in New Hampshire is plenty used to cold winters-
-This Golden-Laced Wyandotte at The Hen Song in Alaska also sees plenty of snow and cold temperatures-
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.

Photos courtesy of: 

 The Hen Song 

Visit The Hen Song blog HERE and Facebook page HERE to follow along with the adventures of their beautiful flock from Alaska.

1840 Farm 

Visit 1840 Farm blog HERE and Facebook page HERE to follow along with the adventures of their beautiful flock from New Hampshire plus loads of great recipes using fresh ingredients.

I would also love for you to join me here...
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  1. I'm in the PA mountains, a very nice lady out the road here gave my children (UNannounced!) a sweet little Silkie as a gift. :/ I love her, we've named her Suzie Snowflake because she's pure white and was given to us in the middle of a night-before-Thanksgiving snowstorm. However, I am afraid for her this winter... we get really long, cold winters up here and I don't heat the coop at all. I told the kids that if she doesn't look like she's doing well at any point, we're giving her back to the original owner... I cannot have this poor little chickens fate on my shoulders until April. I never would have chosen a silkie for our climate. Never. :(

  2. 20 cold hardy breeds and no mention of the Chantecler? ;)

  3. I have to agree with you there. Can you tuck her in between two other hens each night? That's what I've been doing with my one who's still molting. Their body heat should keep her warm.

  4. I can try to do that. I thought about it, but I have been so afraid to try, because they didn't "allow" her to roost w/them yet on their own... she's not officially in the flock, although it's getting close; I can tell. So she's been alone on the top of the nesting boxes... I either need them to accept her and snuggle her or I need about 4 more Silkies to keep her warm! lol! I will take your advice and try slipping her between 2 of my other girls after dark.

  5. Pearl white leghorns are wi Ted-hardy also, I have three.

  6. Pearl-White Leghorns are also winter-hardy, we have three.

  7. Leghorns, with their slight body mass and large combs, are actually more known for being heat hard - they willl be mentioned in a later blog post.