I have seen this discussed many time before, but I am trying to determine what breed of chicken is best in a very cold climate. I live in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire where winter time lows can reach 20 to 40 degrees below zero. I also live in a very windy mountain area. I have read about Icelandic and other breeds that are suited for very cold temperatures. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
cold weather birds
Mrs AK-Bird-Brain might be a good member to chat with about this. She lives up in a part of Alaska where the temperatures dip that low.
Generally, I would think that the larger, fluffier breads would do well. I would also go for breeds with smaller combs to lessen the chance of frost bite.
Icelandics do not have to deal with extreme winter conditions like experienced in NH. As Ya Chicks indicated, larger fluffier with smaller combs (rose, walnut or pea comb) are best. I prefer dominiques but other dual purpose breeds can also work just find. Regardless of breed, husbandry will very very important in how birds tolerate cold.
Pea or rose combed birds and you won't have to face that issue. I'd prefer Dominique, Buckeye, Chantecler, etc. Although, there is certainly a breed named for your own state as well. Finding a true, old line of NH is a bit challenging, however.
Thanks to everyone for the help. Fred, does this mean that the New Hampshire Red is a hard breed to find now? When I was a kid, 60 years ago now, our family had Rhode Island Reds and barred Plymouth Rocks. We used them as dual purpose birds for both meat and eggs. By the way I also live on the 45th parallel. Raising chickens and gardening are different here compared to Southern New England where I grew up. After 20 years here I think I have the gardening skills down and I'm now trying to work with chicken again. Never had to deal with these temperatures in Southeastern Massachusetts. Thanks for the advice. More is welcome at any time.
True, REAL New Hampshires are not easy to find. You'd have better luck getting them from a solid breeder, in my experience. Most hatchery stock just doesn't live up to the fine tradition of the New Hampshire. Oh, they'll sell you some orange birds and my goodness, they'll even call them New Hampshire Reds, gag!! which is a dead give a way that they aren't true NH. There is no "Red" in the official name of the New Hampshire.
Even the breed review section here at BYC has it titled wrong, which doesn't help clear up this embarrassing confusion. May as well start calling Buckeyes the Buckeye Red or start calling Dominique the Barred Dominique if we're just gonna make up names for these venerable breeds.
I mean nothing personal toward you in my little tirade. :)
Edited by Fred's Hens - 1/23/12 at 5:54pm
I personally would not be afraid to try almost any breed in your circumstances and predicament. The earlier advice to pay attention to combs ect is important though. It will depend mostly on you and your provisions for your birds that will determine success of raising chickens with your weather. You will need to provide more for them as far as bigger and more insulated housing for your extremes and pay closer attention to diet as well. Where they range during winter may need a wind break to accommodate the extreme cold times.
I have family in N Michigan and they raise Barred Rocks and love them. They do get very cold but they live well.
Since you live in NH...try NH, also next door is the Plymouth Rock and just south of there, the Rhode Island Red or White. To the north of you, Canada has the Chantecler.
Buckeyes were developed from RIRs and some production reds are RIR/RIW or NH/RIW crosses.
English birds like Orpingtons and Wyandottes can handle the cold well, also.
4 whippets, 10 chickens
4 whippets, 10 chickens
I am here: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=39.712180,-86.057455