Picking the top chicken breeds for cold weather is crucial to keeping a thriving flock in winter. So, if you live in an area that experiences cold weather, it's best to pick chickens that can handle the chilly temperatures!
Cold-Hardy Breed Features
Some of the features that you will find in cold hardy chicken breeds are:
- Small comb - Chickens with smaller combs are one trait that does well in a colder climate since it is less susceptible to frostbite. Chicken breeds with single, pea, cushion, and walnut combs are smaller comb sizes.
- Heavy feathering - Chicken breeds with feathered feet are another trait that does well in cold temps. Think of it as the chicken wearing a pair of leg warmers!
- Large in size - Large fowl chicken breeds tend to do better in cold climates than bantam-breed chickens. They have more body fat and muscle to help protect them from chilly temperatures.
Blue & Green Egg Laying Chickens for Cold Weather
Colorful egg baskets are popular; these backyard chicken breed varieties will keep yours full of green and blue eggs. Our top picks for blue and green colored egg layers for cold weather are:
- Ameraucana - Ameraucanas have a sweet temperament and lay pretty, light blue to greenish blue eggs. Their pea comb will help leave them less susceptible to frostbite.
- Bountiful Blue Egg Layer - Exclusively ours! We've taken our favorite egg-laying breed for Super Blue Eggers and crossed them with our most vibrant blue egg layers. The result: prolific layers of large, blue-tinted eggs.
- Blue Favaucana - We adore this designer breed for its many excellent qualities: Extreme docility; sage-green, medium to large eggs; beautiful little muffs, beards, and lightly feathered feet (some with five toes!). They have pea combs and profuse feathering for cold-hardiness.
- Olive Egger - This designer breed produces an assortment of beautiful olive egg layers. Their large fowl body type allows them to keep warm in cold climates.
Best Egg Laying Chickens for Cold Weather
Although all chicken breeds naturally lay fewer eggs in the winter due to decreased sunlight, these breeds will stay lay more than most other breeds. Our top picks for the best egg layers in cold weather are:
- Rhode Island Red - Rhode Island Reds are held in such high esteem that they're the official Rhode Island state bird! They're the do-everything bird: they lay exceptionally well, they're valued for their meat, they're extremely cold hardy, and hardy in general.
- Speckled Sussex - The Sussex have everything: they are excellent layers of tinted or light brown eggs--and they lay right through the coldest weather. They are dual-purpose birds, though fat-bodied and not prone to flying when mature, so they are easily fenced.
- Black Australorp - Australorps are the Australian take on the Orpington breed. They are calm and friendly and excellent layers of light brown eggs. The Australorp's exceptionally soft, shiny black plumage has hints of green and purple in the sunlight. Peaceful and dignified, Australorps are an absolutely delightful bird that we highly recommend to anyone who wants a pet chicken that lays dependably.
- Barred Plymouth Rock - "Barred Rocks" are among the most popular dual-purpose chickens on small farms today. Their heritage is unclear, but what is clear is that they're very friendly, great layers of large brown eggs, and can withstand cold weather quite nicely.
Friendly Chickens for Cold Weather
These cold hardy backyard chicken breeds will also make great pets due to their friendly disposition. Our top picks for friendly and cold weather-tolerant chicken breeds are:
- Buff Orpington - Orpingtons are big, friendly dual-purpose birds originally developed in the UK. Their fluffy plumage keeps them warm in the winter months. Plus, they're gentle and friendly, besides being good layers.
- Chocolate Orpington - Everyone needs a little more chocolate in their life! Orpingtons are the only way to go for many small farms and homesteaders. These beautiful, rare Chocolate Orpingtons will grow into large birds that are gentle and friendly. They are steady layers that produce light or medium brown eggs. Orpington chickens are cold-hardy due to their fluffy plumage.
- White Cochin - Cochins are known worldwide for being big friendly balls of fluff and feathers. They don't lay very well but are popular because of their sweet personality and fantastic mothering qualities. Their feathered legs and feet help keep them warm in snowy and cold climates.
- Light Brahma - Brahmas are gentle giants with feathered legs, feet, and profuse, fluffy feathering. This fancy breed of chicken makes a great pet for its quiet, tame nature and tolerance to the cold! While not a power layer, you can expect three or so medium-sized brown eggs from this bird per week.