If you want eggs all year long but live in an area with harsh winters, you will need cold hardy chickens. A chicken is considered cold hardy if it can weather frigid temperatures, and it may even produce eggs, but do so at a lower rate. There are a few different characteristics that help make a chicken cold hardy, such as a small comb or large size. Here are seven cold hardy breeds for you to consider as additions to your coop.
This breed was created specifically to endure Canadian winters, so it is tremendously cold hardy. This chicken has an extremely small comb and is a bit on the chunky side. They weather the cold so well that they can continue to lay eggs in the deep mid-winter.
Developed by a woman in Ohio, these dark brown hens can lay all year long. They are good foragers as well, meaning you will not have to increase their feed as dramatically during lean months. They are also quite docile and do well with children.
Delawares are another good foraging breed, and they are known to lay between 200 and 280 eggs every year. Their single, small comb is more frostbite-resistant that larger-combed hens. They mature quickly and are good for both eggs and meat.
One feature that makes Ameraucana hens different from other cold hardy chickens is that they lay blue eggs. For that reason, be careful about hatcheries that sell Easter Egg hens in place of this breed since they are less cold hardy but still produce blue and blue-green eggs. These beautiful eggs make them a breed that is always in high demand, so you may need to get on a waiting list if this is the breed you want.
This active and friendly cold hardy hen can produce about 180 eggs or more each year. Their comb has extended tips, which means that while they can weather most winters, they are not ideal for the most extreme places.
When you have especially harsh winters and mild summers, Dominique is a good choice. They are not very heat hardy but produce well in the winter months. This is another breed with a look-alike, the Barred Rock. To tell the two apart, notice that Dominique has a rose comb while Barred Rocks have a single comb.
This breed has a very dependable layer and an easygoing nature and is quite cold hardy. They are usually heavy bodied and come in a few different sub-breeds. One particularly beautiful one is the Silver Laced Wyandotte, an American-made version of this old breed.
Getting eggs all year long is easy to achieve when you have chickens made for the unforgiving cold of winter. These seven breeds are all quite popular for areas that experience cold winters. Look for hens with small combs and heavy bodies to know if they can handle the cold. On the flip side, there are also heat hardy breeds you can look into if you have harsh summers.