The thing with the chicken is that it has descended from the Jungle Fowl. As the name of that bird suggests, it is a bird that tends to thrive in the jungle i.e. in a warmer climate. This means that many chickens do best in warmer climates too. This can make most chicken breeds difficult to raise in cold temperatures. So many stop laying eggs as frequently if the weather gets too cold, while others may just flat-out die. On this page, we want to talk to you about the most cold hardy chicken breeds.
These are the breeds that can survive even if the temperatures plummet beneath freezing.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the chicken should constantly be exposed to those temperatures without protection (like chicken coop heater), but they will fare a little bit better than other chicken breeds. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Best Cold Hardy Chicken Breeds
If there is one thing I’ve learned from past mistakes, it’s that not all breeds of chicken can survive a cold weather. That is why I’ve created this list of best chicken breeds for cold weather, or cold-hardy chickens that are more likely than others to survive the winter season!
1. Hedemora Chicken
When it comes to cold hardy chicken breeds, the Hedemora chicken is regarded as one of the best in the world. It has to be. This chicken was developed in one of the coldest regions in the world; Hedemora in Sweden. It frequently snows there.
However, the Hedemora has managed to thrive despite all of the odds being stacked against it. In fact, not only is it able to thrive, it has been able to excel. The chicken is able to produce upwards of 180 eggs per year.
This is not actually an officially recognized breed of chicken. It is what is known as a landrace chicken. This is a type of chicken that has managed to adapt itself to the environment that it lives in.
In the case of the Hedemora chicken, this is something that managed to happened over the course of over 500-years!
The chicken is so cold hardy due to the almost fur-like feathers that they have covering their body.
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2. Jersey Giant
The Jersey Giant chicken is the largest breed in the world. As a result, you wouldn’t really expect it to be a good cold hardy chicken. After all, most of the best cold hardy chicken breeds tend to be smaller chickens.
This allows them to retain heat a little bit better. However, it seems that the Jersey Giant is the exception to this rule.
This is a chicken that can grow up to 13 lbs (6kg) in size. We suppose that it is the amount of meat that they have packed onto them that allows them to thrive in the colder temperatures.
That and the fact that they were initially bred in New Jersey, a place where temperatures can get pretty cold at certain times of the year.
The Jersey Giant is often used as a meat bird. However, it is also surprisingly productive for those that want an egg-laying chicken too.
For a long time, many people thought that the Orloff chicken originated in Russia. We now know that not to be true. It likely originated somewhere in Persia. However, it is fair to say that the Orloff managed to do a brilliant job at adapting itself to the colder weather of Russia.
If you looked at this 6.5 lbs (3kg) chicken, you would barely be able to tell that it is a chicken. The thick plumage, smaller comb, small earlobes, and small wattle helps to hide some of the more defining features that chickens are known for.
At the moment, the Orloff chicken is fairly rare in most countries outside of Russia. In Russia, it is raised as a meat chicken breed. This is because it is able to cope with even the coldest of temperatures.
This cold hardy chicken breed is a reasonably good layer too, even during the winter months. However, that is never going to be the main purpose of raising the Orloff.
If a chicken has proven its worth coping with the harsh weather in Russia, then you know that it is going to be a brilliant cold hardy chicken to raise.
The Orpington chicken is a British bird. It can reach a weight of up to 10 lbs (4.5kg) for the males, with females being a little bit less than this.
Looking at the Orpington chicken, you would actually think that it is a larger bird than it is. This is all thanks to the incredibly fluffy feathers that the Orpington has.
It is these feathers that help it to become a cold hardy chicken breed. It may not be one of the most cold hardy of breeds, but it is certainly able to cope with colder weather in most parts of the world.
If you see people raising the Orpington chicken nowadays, it is almost certain that they will be raising it for show. However, this is an incredibly productive chicken. It carries a lot of meat due to its larger size. However, the Orpington chicken is also able to lay around 200 eggs per year. Some can even lay well in excess of this.
The Wyandotte is a beautiful, friendly bird that can be found in many collections around the world. They are also known for being great egg layers and they have been recognized by the American Poultry Association as one of their “All-American” breeds.
The Wyandotte was named in honor of Charles L. Wyandotte, a prominent and influential figure in the formation of America’s Western Reserve (includes Cleveland) by European Settlers.
This breed is known for its large size that is often mistaken as being too heavy to fly but this is not true! This bird has an average weight of8.5 lbs for roosters and 6.5 lbs for hens. A Wyandotte hen can lay up to 200 eggs per year.
This cold hardy chicken breed is also a favorite among backyard chicken owners due to its calm, friendly nature.
No matter how you slice it, Cochin chickens are one of the most beautiful breeds in existence. They come in a variety of colors including white, black, buff and red.
This color variation makes them an especially attractive option for backyard enthusiasts.
These birds are ideal for those looking to get into poultry farming because they are hardy chickens (and not flighty) enough to withstand all sorts of weather conditions.
Plus their egg laying abilities make them an even more attractive option for anyone who wants their own fresh eggs! On average hens can produce 150 eggs per year.
This cold hardy chicken breed is so diverse that you will find both dual-purpose birds as well as those bred strictly to be ornamental birds, like the bantam Cochin. So no matter what your needs might be, this chicken has got it covered!
Have you ever heard of the Chantecler chicken breed? If not, I’m here to tell you about it. This is a rare breed that was developed in Canada and still remains one of the most popular breeds there.
What are they like? Well, for starters, these cold hardy chickens are known for their unusual upright stance as well as their deep white plumage. They’re also very good egg producers with some hens laying an impressive 200 eggs per year!
The breed is also known for its docile nature which makes them great pets to have around the farm. They’re very hardy chickens and resistant to illness, too. It’s no wonder these beautiful birds are some of the best egg layers on the market!
The Krainenkoppe is a Dutch and German cold hardy chicken breed. It is an incredibly rare type of chicken nowadays, and it is mostly used for show purposes, but in the past it did have a reputation for its cold hardiness.
This chicken isn’t that weighty. At most, it is going to hit around 4.5 lbs (2kg) in size. This is why it is such a good chicken for those colder temperatures.
It is a cold hardy chicken breed that can lay a good number of eggs, ranging between 180 and 200 eggs per year. So, a lot of homesteaders in Germany and the Netherlands will raise this chicken for the eggs, even if it is not going to be producing a lot in the way of meat.
The Kraienkoppe has adapted itself to the environment. It is a good forager, even during the winter months. In fact, it is regarded as an aggressive forager. It will fight for any food that it stumbles across while foraging.
We suppose this is why it is so good at being a winter bird. It will manage to get food even when there is a limited amount available.
So, What is the Best Cold Hardy Chicken Breed?
Of all the cold hardy chicken breeds, the Cochin is my favorite since it is one of the most beautify chicken breeds in the world.
If you are looking to raise chickens in a colder climate, then any of these breeds should be on your radar. They will thrive even with the coldest of winters!
These chickens have been bred for generations and can withstand temperatures below freezing without any adverse effects on their health or production. Read more about them here and decide which one is right for you!