Chickens for hot and cold: Which ones?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Davaroo, May 12, 2008.

  1. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    I've always reckoned a chicken is a chicken. I've even taken flak for that cavalier approach. But, recently, the notion of Buff Orpingtons in Louisiana gave someone worry over their tolerance for heat and humidity. This prompted me to ask the following:

    "I have never lived where there are serious extremes of climate, so I just figure that if I could live there, then so can a chicken. (This includes places like Louisiana, or South Florida.)

    So what chickens are bad for certain locales. Are there breeds you should avoid because you live in a particular climate?

    What about REALLY hot climes, say AZ or NM? Really cold ones, like the northern areas of AK?"

    I've read that Chanteclers and Buckeyes were especially bred for cold tolerance and I believe that heavier birds with pea or rose combs are better suited for colder climates.
    By contrast, the breeds with large single combs and non-feathereed legs are better suited to warmer climes.
    But these are generalities, really. They just seem logical.

    What do you 'breed gurus' say?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2008
  2. ella

    ella Songster

    The only standouts in my very mixed up flock are the Jersey Giants, they'll be outside in the snow loooong after everyone else is in. [​IMG]

    And I know the EE boys are always first inside in cold weather.
  3. SueNH

    SueNH Songster

    Feb 24, 2007
    Pea combs and smaller wattles are less likely to get frostbitten. I try to avoid the big straight combs of breeds like leghorns. The flop over a lot of the hens get on the big combs do seem to protect it a bit. Roosters will usually have the points frozen off.

    I keep an assortment of standard chickens and a few mongrel bantams. I really haven't seen a big difference in cold tolerance except for the frost bite issues.

    I don't keep silkies or top hats. The top hats seem to get eaten by something even if I keep the crest trimmed so it can see. Silkies just seem totally impractical in a place where snow can be on the ground from November to May 1. Spring and fall can be totally soaking wet and cold. I don't have a heated barn or lots of secure pens so in fairness to the feather mutants I don't keep them.

    None of the dual purpose layer types stopped laying during the dead of winter. Neither did most of the little mongrel bantams. They all came out at one time or another except on the insanely cold days. Fresh deep snow stopped them but once the horses had packed down paths they were out there investigating.

    The turkeys, ducks and geese seem impervious to cold. They chose to sleep in a tarped pen rather than a building. Only the peacocks seem to completely dislike it. They would occasionally race out into the big run in barn I have for the horses, run around like nuts for a minute or two. Stretch their wings and dive back into their coop.

    Cold spring rain seems to bother the most. It's the changing seasons that are a bigger problem than winter. I can swing over 60 degrees in temperature in spring and fall. Hard for anybody to take variations like that.
  4. jimnjay

    jimnjay Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Bryant Alabama
    I have wondered much the same thing. I know we have people on the board that live in AZ and TX where temps are often in the 100's for days on end. My chickens seem to react to temps when they climb to the high 80's.

    If I lived in the hotter and dryer regions, I would most likely choose a Mediterranean breed. It makes sense that those types of birds will be more adaptable to hot temps than the ones developed by the Dutch or northern Europeans.

    I know that the Faverolles do very well in the winter here in Alabama. We do get many below freezing nights during the winter. We do not get anything like they do in the North East so I don't know how well they would do there. My girls pull their necks down and the muff makes a nice cover for the face they seem snug every morning when I go out. They continue to lay through out the winter as well so that tells me they are not bothered by the cold.

    If I remember correctly, Henderson's Breed Chart mentions the breeds that are particularly cold tolerant. I don't remember ever reading about being hot climate tolerant.
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I needed a breed that was both heat tolerant and cold hardy. Nearly everything I've read says that the brahmas are both. The cold hardy I can understand, but with their large size I'm not sure about the heat tolerant. Guess we'll be finding out soon enough, because spring doesn't last very long here in Podunk, Arkansas. Either that or I have to explain to my SO why I absolutely have to air condition their coop. [​IMG]

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