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 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!
Buckeye chickens are a dual purpose breed with small pea combs, which protects them from frostbite. This hardy breed is well known for its foraging ability and make excellent hunters of small critters like mice and frogs.
Buckeyes are a great breed to add to your free range flock!
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.
Read more about Chantecler chickens at the Livestock Conservancy!
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.
Cornish chickens are pretty hefty, weighing in at around 9 pounds, making them a great breed to raise for meat. They do lay eggs, but certainly won’t break any records at around 150 per year.
This breed is sort of a mixed bag, some chicken keepers find them to be friendly and personable, others say they’re aggressive and don’t play well with others.
The Cornish breed is wonderful for colder climates due to their heft and pea combs, but if you’re looking for kid friendly breeds or good egg layers, this is not your best bet.
This breed is not to be confused with the Cornish Cross, which is a mix between a Cornish and a Plymouth Rock. The Cornish Cross was created to put on mass quickly, which leads to health problems like heart conditions and weak legs. This breed is recommended for meat only, and you’d be better off raising them in the spring and summer than in the winter.
Delaware chickens were developed in… you guessed it… Delaware! Delaware chickens were originally bred to be meat breeds but were later replaced with the Cornish and Cornish Cross. Delaware’s get quite large, with females weighing in around 6 pounds and males tipping the scales at 8 pounds. This is a wonderful dual purpose breed and they thrive in even very cold winters. This calm and friendly breed is wonderful for families with children too!
Dominiques are very cold hardy chickens because they have a small rose comb and big bodies which help protect them from the cold. They also have rose combs, which are great for preventing frost bite.
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.
10. Easter Eggers
The Easter Egger is a widely adored chicken breed, and for many good reasons! Easter Eggers are cross breeds, usually a mix between Ameraucana or Araucana with another breed.
The Easter Egger is much more affordable than their pure bred cousins, but you still get the fun of colored eggs!
Easter Eggers are actually extra fun, because it’s a total surprise what color their eggs will be. They can come in shades of green, blue, and even pink!
The Easter Egger is one of the best chicken breeds for freezing temperatures due to their large bodies and pea comb. They’re also great pets with their sweet dispositions and friendly personalities.
This breed is rare and beautiful, gaining in popularity for backyard flocks. The Faverolle has a sweet and friendly disposition, making them ideal for families with young children.
They have feathered legs and feet and a cute little beard. Their combs are very small, which means they’re much less likely to suffer from frostbite in the winter.
12. Jersey Giant
As the name implies, Jersey Giants are some of the biggest chickens around, and what does all that weight mean? Cold hardiness! These hefty birds can weigh between 10-13 pounds at maturity. Not surprisingly, Jersey Giants are often raised for meat, but many people raise the hens as egg layers as well.
Marans are such a fun breed to keep in your flock. They come in SO many different varieties that you can have a whole rainbow of chickens in your flock with just this one breed.
Not only that, the coveted Black Copper Marans lay deep chocolate brown eggs that are just to die for.
This breed tends to be more expensive than others, but their stunning good looks and amazing eggs make up for it!
Marans are wonderful for raising in cold temperatures. Their original purpose was as a meat bird, which shows in their big bodies. They also tend to have smaller combs and wattles, although roosters and some varieties of Marans can grow to be quite large.
14. 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.
15. Olive Egger
Much like Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers are a mix of two purebred chicken breeds, one that lays blue eggs, and one that lays brown eggs. Which two breeds are chosen to breed is largely decided by the hatcheries and breeders that sell these birds. Therefore, these chickens can look vastly different based on where you buy them from!
Most Olive Eggers descend from Ameraucana chickens, and most have pea combs and tend to have larger bodies. If you’re thinking of getting Olive Eggers for your cold-weather backyard flock, make sure to talk extensively with the breeder or hatchery first to make sure their particular Olive Eggers will be a good fit.
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!
17. Plymouth Rock
The Plymouth Rock is one of the most popular breed of chicken in the United States. Plymouth Rock chickens come in a variety of shades, including buff, partridge, and white, but the most popular variety by far is the Barred Rock.
The barred rock is readily available at feed stores and online hatcheries every spring and is a true American favorite. This breed is popular for many reasons, but one of which is that it thrives in both warm weather and colder temperatures.
The Plymouth Rock is a dual-purpose breed that lays plenty of eggs, they’re even known to lay well throughout the winter months.
18. Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red sits right alongside the Plymouth Rock in terms of popularity. This breed is an excellent egg laying breed, laying 200-300 eggs per year.
They’re very cold-hardy chickens and fair well in harsh winters while still laying eggs. This breed can also serve as a dual purpose breed, so if you’re looking for a chicken to put eggs and meat on your table, this one is a winner!
19. Speckled Sussex
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 Silkie is our all time favorite breed for so many reasons. Silkies are friendly and sweet, making them perfect for families with children.
Their small stature is not only adorable, but they eat much less feed than their standard friends. Silkies are excellent mothers, and while they’re not the best egg layers, they are still quite consistent and lay the cutest little eggs.
Silkies are also excellent in cold temperatures. The hens have no comb and wattles to speak of, and the roosters have very small rose combs. Our Silkies are small but tough and withstand winter as well as, if not better than, the standard chickens in our flock.
Welsummers are highly prized for their beautiful feathering and dark brown eggs. This heavy weight breed is an excellent choice for cold climates, and many chicken keepers find their wonderful personalities to be a great addition to their flock!
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