A Lot of Breed Questions...


Mar 31, 2018
Upstate, NY
I apologize if this is in the wrong location; I was debating between this subforum and managing your flock :hmm

Anyway, I want to preface this by saying I live in Upstate NY, just south of the Tughill Plateau that's so famous for cold and snow. Thankfully, we have an extra shed the chickens will be able to stay in over the winter, but it's still not a location for any breeds that are going to have issues with the cold.

Egg laying isn't as big an issue for me, what's really an issue is cold hardiness, foraging, and temperament. It's very easy to go onto websites and see "docile," "friendly," etc., but it's definitely more helpful to have information firsthand from owners of the breeds. Every chicken is an individual, of course, but I'm hoping to get a better idea of how these hens and roo will fare here? Mostly because I'm not sure what "cold hardy" means specifically for each breed - for example, I would assume a chantecler chicken would be more cold hardy (originating in Canada, after all) than say... an orpington. Yet they all get the same generic "cold hardy," label.

I also know that heating a coop is not a good idea and is not a practical solution indefinitely, and can cause more problems than it solves. I don't want to accidentally end up with a breed that I'll inadvertently be putting in a bad situation.

So, my breeds are as follows:
-Wyandotte (1)
-Cochin (2)
-Orpington (1)
-Australorp (1)
-And a white silkie bantam roo.

We were unsure about getting a rooster at first, because I've heard that with any less than 10 chickens a standard rooster doesn't work, but I was told that a bantam roo would work better with the standard girls, while also offering similar benefits. We live in an area with predators (I mean, doesn't everyone?), and we live on a big enough property to let the girls free range. I was told that roosters are partially responsible for keeping hens safe while foraging, and will be on the look out. I wanted the extra security upgrade package :rolleyes:

As stated previously, the girls and roo will have lots of time outside to forage and do chicken things. We've got lots of open area and lots of woods for shade and grubs!

My main questions are these:
1. Are these breeds all what you would consider "friendly," in the sense of being handled? Not liking being handled is one thing, and understandable!, but being people-aggressive or impossible to catch is another thing altogether.

2. Are these breeds all suitable for the snow and cold of upstate NY?
2.1 Are these breeds capable of handling the humidity of upstate NY? It gets incredibly humid here in the summer, sometimes 90% humidity or more, and although I can take steps to make them cooler, once again I don't want to make any breed suffer unnecessarily if there are better breeds out there for my purposes.

3. Will my Silkie Bantam be okay with just 5 standard girls?

Sunny-Side Up

Turn towards the sun & the shadows fall behind you
May 1, 2017
I haven't had all of those breeds, but Orpingtons are very docile and human friendly. I haven't had any experience with Wyandottes, but I've heard they're fine with humans. I do have an Australorp, and she's definitely not lovey cuddly, but I can still catch her and she's not mean.
As for the Silkie Bantam, I don't know how it works with roosters. I'm assuming he'd be happy with the hens. However, remember that sexed breeds have a 10% chance of being the wrong gender. So you possibly, not likely though, could get another rooster or only hens.
I believe all those breeds would be fine (??? I really don't know, it's not super cold here, and I'm not familiar with Cochins) with the cold, but maybe not the Silkie...???
In my experience with Silkies, they're very cute and all, but they grow so much slower and are a lot more fragile and small compared to the others. Whatever you choose, though. I did have most of my problems because the hatchery shipped the poor things a whole day late!
Whatever you do, have fun!:)

Foster's Freehold

6 Years
Jun 7, 2013
South Central KY
I only know the wyandotte the orpington and the australorp breeds from personal experience. They may not like being handled, but generally are not a lot of trouble to do so. Taking them off the roost just before dark is usually the easiest way to catch em.

Those three manage the cold well. Always look for a rose comb, they do better. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation, that cuts down on the frostbite issue. It is important to have shade and lots of fresh cool water to combat the humidity. We have it awful too. I'll freeze watermelon and cantalope, frozen water bottles go in the waterer, They have a shade canopy set up on the breezy side of the coop. You can put a small tub, buried in the ground to put in blocks of ice and a bit of water, the chickens will wade or stand on the ice.

As for a roo, it depends on the roo. My Golden Cuckoo Marans only has 2 hens to call his own. He will find tasty bits for them, he stands guard while they lay, is a gentle breeder and only mounts them once a day. He's the last one into the coop at night, after a walk around to make sure all is right in his world and everyone is in bed. He has trouble with the bitties though lol, they don't always mind him. Some roos are mean, rutting brutes that will tear hens up, others are protective gentlemen. That is the luck of the draw. The bad ones make excellent chicken and dumplins though.

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