Whether you raise chickens commercially or recreationally, if you live in a cold climate you’ll know that not all birds can survive the bitter winter temperatures. Here are five of the top cool-weather breeds that do well in northern regions.
A dual purpose breed of chicken, Sussex chickens are good producers of meat, and can generate between 240 and 260 eggs each year. These birds are alert and adaptable. They are at home in confinement and enjoy being around people, but they are also vigorous foragers who will gladly hunt outdoors.
These adorable little chickens do lay small eggs, but they are also extremely broody, and mostly kept as pets. Their distinctive pom-pom plumage isn’t just attractive, it forms a warm barrier against the cold. Silkies are also some of the most friendly chickens around, and often enjoy snuggling up to a human companion.
Rhode Island Reds
This prolific layer can produce an impressive 280 medium to large eggs annually. Male and female adults weigh about 8.5 pounds and 6.5 pounds respectively, making them a respectable meat bird as well. With their robust build and thick plumage, they do well indoors or out.
Plymouth Rock chickens were specifically bred to be outdoor foragers, and they do well in colder regions. They weigh between 7 and 8 pounds, and are quick to mature. The original Plymouth Rock, developed in late nineteenth-century New England, is now available in a wide range of breed variations.
A bird with its origins in the Netherlands, Welsummer chickens lay large, healthy eggs at about 180 per year. They mature slowly, but are sturdy birds that can handle the cold. Active and intelligent, they enjoy foraging outdoors. However, they do have a reputation for being on the noisy side.
Whatever breed you’re caring for, during the winter months you should be especially vigilant that your coop is kept clean and dry, and that your chickens are well fed and watered.