If you live in a cold climate and are considering raising chickens, you’re going to need to get cold hardy chicken breeds to ensure the success of your flock. Many chicken breeds are bred specifically for their ability to withstand and even thrive in cold temperatures.
The best cold hardy chicken breeds are those with small combs and wattles and plenty of meat on their bones. These larger chickens are more likely to acclimate to cold temperatures than svelt and skinny birds as they have more fat and muscle to protect them from the cold.
Chickens are susceptible to getting frostbite on their exposed skin in the winter. Chickens with a large comb and wattles are more likely to get frostbite because their body has a hard time regulating the temperature. For this reason, our recommended cold hardy chicken breeds have small comb and wattles.
We’ve put together a big list of our favorite cold hardy chicken breeds for you to choose from so you can make an educated decision to expand or start your new chicken flock.
Our Favorite Cold Hardy Chicken Breeds:
Ameraucana chickens lay beautiful medium sized blue eggs. They are particularly cold hardy because they have a pea comb and very small wattles, so they are less prone to frostbite.
Ameraucanas come in a variety of colors, including blue, buff, silver, brown, red, black, and white. They also have a cute feathered beard under their beak!
Australorp chickens lay medium sized light brown eggs. They have beautiful black iridescent feathers and a small single comb with small wattles.
Australorps are known for being docile, calm, and having sweet personalities. They’re one of the top egg laying breeds, and most people who own them prefer them over any other breed!
Brahma chickens are a dual purpose breed. They’re large and have an abundance of feathers, not only on their bodies, but on their feet too! Brahma’s are known to have sweet temperaments and many people keep them as pets with benefits!
Brahma chickens come in a variety of colors including light, buff, and dark. They’re also bred as bantam chickens!
Chanteclers are one of our favorite cold hardy chicken breeds. They have a lot of spunk and personality, and are often at the top of the pecking order. This breed goes broody often and they are wonderful and very protective mothers. With their pea comb, very small wattles, and big bodies, these birds are perfect for cold climates.
Another reason Chanteclers are great in cold climates is because they are one of the only breeds to come out of Canada, and were bred to be one of the most cold hardy chickens.
Cochin chickens are one of the most varied and beautiful breeds out there. First of all, they come in many colors including partridge, silver laced, white, mottled, blue, and black. They also come in frizzle variety, although the frizzles will be slightly less cold hardy than non-frizzled.
Cochins have a small single comb and warm feathers on their feet to help protect them from the cold. They are not the best egg-layers but are widely known for their friendly personalities and gorgeous coloring.
Dominiques are very cold hardy chickens because they have a small rose comb and big bodies which help protect them from the cold.
Dominique chickens are sweet and very social, their personalities are an excellent addition to any flock. These lovely birds are also good layers of light brown eggs.
New Hampshire Red
This heavy weight breed is great in cold weather and the hens are good layers too.
New Hampshire Reds look similar to Rhode Island Reds and are often mistaken for the more popular breed. Although they look alike, the New Hampshire Red chickens are considerably larger. These dual purpose breeds are perfect for raising in cold climates.
The Orpington is a large bird with fluffy plumage, and a very small single comb. The Orpington is a great layer and is a dual purpose breed.
They go broody often and their friendly disposition makes them wonderful mothers. This popular breed is one of our top picks for cold hardy chicken breeds!
The Speckled Sussex chicken is the perfect cold hardy breed. They’re good layers and are known to lay right through the winter. They have full bodies which makes them a good dual purpose breed and the large size helps to keep them warm in winter.
These birds are also good foragers, which will cut down on feed costs in the warmer months!
The Wyandotte is a large breed that we’ve found to be extremely cold hardy. Wyandottes have big bodies and big personalities to match.
If you’re interested in getting a Wyandotte, be sure to check out our full breed spotlight on this breed!
To read more about raising chickens in winter, check out our Ultimate Guide to Raising Chickens in the Winter!
Chicken Breed Guides
- Chicken Breeds for Colorful Eggs
- Kid-Friendly Chicken Breeds
- Bantam Chicken Breeds