Do you have chickens? Do you live in a cold climate? Want to know the best chicken breeds for winter? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, then this article is for you.
It’s easy to assume that chickens can lay eggs no matter what time of year it is. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Some breeds are better than others during the winter. You can tell whether or not a chicken is cold-hardy by looking at its feet, comb, and earlobes. The feet will be pale in color if the chicken is able to stand freezing temperatures. The comb should be large and red with no frostbite on it and their earlobes will also have no frostbite damage.
There are many types of chickens that you can raise for both egg laying purposes as well as meat production purposes during the winter months.
Let’s take a look at those 14 cold hardy egg-laying chickens.
Rhode Island Reds
Cold hardy chicken breed that lays well during the winter.
Rhode Island Reds were originally developed in the state of Rhode Island, hence their name.
Today there are many different varieties of Rhode Island Reds available, but the original breed is still one of the most popular choices for chicken keepers around the world.
They lay about 250-300 eggs per year on average. This makes them an ideal choice for backyard flocks or small farms that want to raise their own meat birds later on in the spring or summertime.
Also, Rhode Island Red roosters are typically friendly, docile, sweet, and lovable. You can handle him easily.
Australorp has been bred mainly for its high egg production. The hens lay an average of 280–300 eggs per year and are good winter layers, which means they’ll continue to produce eggs even when the temperature drops below freezing.
We can say they are a dual-purpose breed, though they are not as big as some other breeds and won’t yield so much meat.
Australorps roosters are known as friendly and docile birds who will follow your kids around like pets—but don’t let this fool you into thinking that these birds won’t put up a fight if attacked by an animal! Though it shouldn’t come down to such measures often enough for concern, these birds have been known to attack other animals and even people who get too close without warning.
If you’re looking for a large, cold-hardy hen that lays large brown eggs, Brahma chickens are the way to go. These birds have been around since the 1800s and have developed into a good dual-purpose breed, meaning they can be used for poultry meat and egg production.
They also have an upright crest on top of their heads and big combs (the fleshy growths above their eyes).
Brahmas are excellent layers of large brown eggs—they may even lay up to 180 per year! This makes them an excellent option if you want lots of eggs during the winter but don’t want a breed that requires much upkeep.
Orpingtons are a great cold weather chicken. They are a dual-purpose breed, which means they produce both eggs and meat, making them great for homesteaders who want their own backyard farm. These medium to large birds lay large brown eggs and roosters can grow up to 10 pounds!
Orpington hens are also fantastic mothers. If you live in a colder climate or want to add some variety to your flock this winter season then Orpingtons may be right up your alley!
New Hampshire chickens are also a great choice for cold weather. They are resourceful, hardy birds that lay eggs even in the winter. They’re also one of the most popular breeds of chicken around, known for their docile nature and good egg production.
They are good egg layers when they’re young but tend to slow down after they reach maturity. They’ll produce anywhere between 150-200 brown eggs per year or more depending on factors like food supply or seasonality.
The hens will begin to lay when they’re about 16 weeks old but may stop laying altogether once they stop laying eggs during their molting period (or if there’s not enough food available).
Dominiques are medium-sized brown chicken with a red comb.
They are known for their cold weather hardiness and laying ability, making them great for your farm or homestead.
This breed is an excellent layer, averaging about 240 eggs per year.
Dominiques also have an affinity for foraging, so if you’re looking to raise some chickens that will scratch around in the dirt to find insects and worms to eat, this is the breed for you!
They’re very docile and easy to handle as well—so if there’s one thing better than having fresh eggs every day, it must be having those same fresh eggs served up by a friendly chicken!
Plymouth Rocks are a dual-purpose breed and great foragers that can handle cold or hot weather well. One of the oldest breeds in America, dating back to the early 1900s.
Plymouth Rocks are also known as Barred Rocks because of their black and white markings (although some variations include blue). They’re medium-sized birds with a large tail that’s often carried over their backs like a banner. Their feathers come in red and white, black barred with white, mottled black, black mottled with white, silver laced blue and other colorful combinations.
While Plymouth Rocks are docile and friendly with people, they aren’t particularly social with other birds; they tend to prefer human companionship over their own kind’s company. If you want your chickens to become pets rather than food providers, you might want to consider another breed altogether.
Light Sussex Chickens
Light Sussex Chickens is a species of chicken that originated in Sussex, England.
They are a dual-purpose breed and are often used as a laying hen.
Light Sussex chickens are a great option for cold weather. They are small, hardy birds that will lay an average of 250 eggs per year. The hens are good layers but not quite as prolific as the Leghorns we have in the flock.
They aren’t very good egg sitters. If you’re planning on incubating your own eggs or hatching chicks, you’ll need to get some other breed of chicken or use an incubator.
They’re not terribly friendly toward humans, so they aren’t the best choice for children or adults who want a pet chicken. They’re more likely to run away from you than they are to come running up to see what you’re doing.
Wyandottes were first bred in Massachusetts in the mid-nineteenth century. They were originally named after the Wyandotte tribe of Native Americans because they were thought to be similar in appearance to this group of people. The breed was developed in order to create a hardy bird that could survive well in cold weather conditions. This made them popular with farmers who lived in colder climates such as Canada and northern Europe.
Wyandottes hens lay brown eggs which vary from light to dark brown depending on how much sun they get.
In warm climates, they may lay more than 300 eggs per year while in colder climates they may only produce 200 or fewer eggs per year.
The Wyandotte is an all-around great choice for colder climates because it’s easy to maintain and can withstand extreme temperatures without any problems.
If you’re looking for a hen that is good at laying eggs, winter hardiness and foraging, the Salmon Favorelles are your best bet.
This breed was developed in France in the early 1900s and has been popular with French farmers ever since due to their excellent egg production (200-230 eggs per year) and winter hardiness.
It is also noted as being a very good layer of brown eggs throughout the year, even during times when other layers stop laying or lay fewer eggs. The chickens have medium-length feathers that can be either white or black with varying shades of gray on their bodies
Cinnamon Queen is a good winter chicken. She’s got thick, fluffy feathers to keep her warm and she can easily adapt to harsh weather conditions. But if you’re looking for a hardy bird that will help out on your small farm, look no further: Cinnamon Queen is another good chicken for beginners.
If you’re not sure how to start breeding chickens or are interested in breeding them as a hobby, then Cinnamon Queen could be the perfect fit for your homestead!
What does cold hardy mean in chickens?
Cold hardiness is a measure of the ability of a chicken breed to survive cold weather. Cold hardy chickens are able to withstand temperatures below freezing and still be healthy.
The main factors that contribute to cold hardiness in chickens are:
Size – the larger the bird, the better it will do in cold weather. The smaller breeds tend to be more susceptible to frostbite and other health problems at low temperatures than larger birds, who can stay warm by huddling together or fluffing their feathers.
Comb type – birds with single combs are more vulnerable than those with rose combs or no comb at all (called cresteds). Single combs can freeze easily at night, which leaves them vulnerable to frostbite.
Dual combs are also very susceptible to frostbite and should not be kept outside in areas where winters get cold enough for ice-coating.
Rose combs and crested breeds have less surface area on their heads compared to other breeds and can tolerate colder temperatures better than single combed birds because they have less surface area that can freeze over. In addition, roosters with crests have more insulation around their heads than plain roosters do.
How many types of combs do chickens have? – We have a separate article regarding this topic ~ 9 kinds of chicken combs (chicken breeds with combs included)
What temperature is too cold for chickens?
Chickens are quite hardy and can tolerate temperatures below freezing, but they prefer a warmer climate. The ideal temperature for chickens is about 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Read more about – How cold is too cold for chickens?
Can chickens stay outside in the winter?
Yes! Keeping your hens outside throughout the winter is OK and, in fact, preferred by most of them. If you live in a cold climate and want to raise chickens, you’ll need to make sure you get cold-hardy breeds. Chickens are able to keep warm in cold weather because to their feathered coats and their increased food intake.
Are Olive Egger chickens cold hardy?
Olive egger chickens are known for giving chicken farmers eggs in a variety of colors. If you live in a colder area and want a basket full of different colors, these Olive eggers tend to do well in cold winters:
- Easter Eggers
- Green Queens
- Olive Eggers
- Lakeshore Eggers
- Blue Ameraucana
How do you winterize a chicken coop?
Winterizing a chicken coop is easy. There are several things you can do to make sure your chickens remain comfortable during the winter months.
The first thing to do is insulate the walls and ceiling of your coop with rigid insulation board or foam board insulation. You can buy this at most home improvement stores, or you can simply use cardboard boxes cut into strips and taped together like a puzzle.
Next, put down an extra layer of straw in the nest boxes so that it goes up to about 6 inches above the floor level (chicks will sleep on top of a straw). This will help keep them warm while they sleep at night, as well as provide extra insulation when they are sleeping during the day.
You can also put straw down on top of the wire mesh flooring inside each nest box so that it makes a nice cozy bed for your chicks when they get older (this will keep them off cold concrete floors).
Can chickens free-range in the snow?
Free-ranging chickens in the snow is not a good idea. Chickens are very susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. They should be kept dry, warm, and safe from predators during the colder months.
Free-range chickens may have access to an outdoor run or pen, but this area should be covered with a roof or tarpaulin so that they have shelter from rain, wind, and snow. If they are allowed to roam freely, they will need to be brought back inside before the temperature drops below freezing point.
It’s important for you to keep your chickens warm during winter by ensuring that they have plenty of straw and food available at all times. The more active your birds are during daylight hours, the more energy they will expend which means that they’ll need more food than usual.
So what’s the point of knowing these chickens? Well, if you’re looking for the best winter egg laying chickens, then make sure that they are from one of the breeds above. If you’ve ever considered keeping chickens, this backyard chickens list of the top 11 winter egg laying chickens is a good place to start your research.