What Attributes are Common in Cold Hardy Chickens?

There are several factors that can help make a chicken withstand extremely cold temperatures.

Here are some of the ways that chickens stay warm during the winter:

  • They roost close together at night, using each others’ body heat to stay warm – this is why it is so important to have multiple chickens in your coop during the winter months.
  • They survive on their stores of body fat.
  • They have small combs and wattles that are less likely to become frostbitten than larger ones found in other breeds of chickens.
  • They can fluff up their feathers, helping to keep body heat closer to their skin.
  • They tuck their legs and feet beneath their bodies for extra warmth.
  • They usually don’t have feathered feet – birds with feathered feet and legs tend to be more prone to frostbite because their feathers become wet and don’t have any way to dry off.
  • They don’t have frizzles. Frizzles are genetic mutations that result in chickens with curly feathers. These are cute to look at, but they don’t provide any insulating power.
  • They tend to be larger than other breeds – bantam breeds simply don’t have enough body fat to withstand a harsh winter, nor do they have enough muscle.
  • They don’t have any areas of exposed skin – cold-hardy chicken breeds tend to be fully feathered, with the exception of the feet and legs. This protects their bodies from frostbite and the penetrating cold. 

The following are especially hardy cold breeds

1.  Australorp

The Australorp is a great breed for the cold, as they have a thick plume of heavy feathers perfect for shielding them against the harsh winter breeze.  In addition, they are brilliant egg layers – so you can expect a steady supply of large brown eggs!  They’re very gentle creatures, and are a delight to have in any backyard flock – regardless of being a temperature hardy breed!

2. Silkie

They aren’t super strong egg-layers and are mostly kept as an ornamental breed, but any chicken keeper who has Silkies in their backyard is a happy one! The Silkie is a gorgeous, furiously feathered breed with a coat from its head to its feet! Also, instead of a comb, they have a nice pom-pom of feathers – therefore will not be as prone to frostbite as other breeds who do.  Not only are they winter hardy, but they are one of the sweetest, tamest chicken breeds you could ever come across.  They’ll even snuggle up in your lap, so you can keep each other warm!

3. Plymouth Rock

The Plymouth Rock has a beautiful coat of patterned feathers perfect for warmth and also has a track record of being raised in some typically cold areas of the world – including England and parts of North America.  They are also one of the lovely chicken breeds that have a beautiful temperament that will keep you entertained for hours.  With Plymouth Rock, you can expect a lovely lot of large brown eggs to grace your breakfast table.

4. Cochin

You could mistake the Cochin for a walking ball of puffy feathers, such is their unique appearance! The Cochin’s incredibly feathered coat and heavy

weight keep the winter chill at bay and makes them an intriguing animal to look at.  They aren’t great egg layers but are very peaceful animals that can be handled with ease.  

These hens are just a few of the best breeds for cold-hardy birds.  There are many many others! Give us a call at Purely Poultry to find out.  We’d be glad to help!!