Heat and Cold Tolerances in the Midwest (Omaha, NE)

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by KayakNej, Oct 26, 2015.

  1. KayakNej

    KayakNej New Egg

    Apr 23, 2015
    Omaha, NE
    Hey everyone! If this question is answered on another thread, and you are able to point me in that direction, I would really appreciate it. I hate to be a pain by asking a question that has been answered somewhere else.

    I currently do not have chickens, but have plans to get my first flock in the spring. As I chose breeds, I see notes about being heat or cold tolerant....but I never see a definition of what is considered hot or cold.

    We have 4 solid seasons. Temperatures can (and occasionally do) reach triple digits in the summer, and it's humid all season. In the winter the temperature is rarely below zero, but the windchill will reach negatives quite often. While we still get snow (not as much as when I was a kid), we mostly get sleet and ice. I've attached a snapshot of our "average" weather to this thread.


    Taking that information into account, what weather tolerance do I need in a chicken?

    Other info you might need:
    * I'd like to start with 6 hens, maybe increasing the flock some (depending on how many the city will allow) as I gain experience.
    * They will be kept in a mobile coop most of the time.
    * Our property (urban, 1/2 acre) is well drained.
    * My main purpose to having hens will be for laying, but a I'm not against having a dual purpose bird that can be used for meat. Or a meat bird, that produces a decent amount of eggs. (there are just two of us in the house, but I have a couple friends who are unable to have chickens who will benefit from my flock)
    * I'd like to be able to handle the birds (in addition to getting eggs, they will be pets). So something less inclined to be standoffish would be great.
    * I'd like to stick with heritage breeds, if possible.

  2. beetandsteet

    beetandsteet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2015
    SE Texas
    Hey, [​IMG]
    Chickens generally labelled as heat tolerant have looser feathering, lighter body weight, and larger combs to release heat. Breeds termed "cold tolerant" have tighter feathering, usually heavier body weight, and sometimes pea or similar smaller combs to guard against frostbite. Now, in my experience, these labels are not always correct. Based on your weather requirements, you may want a bird who is a little more on the cold tolerant side.
    A good "dual-purpose" breed that I have had excellent success with is the barred plymouth rock. I have a 3 1/2 year old rock who has been laying eggs pretty much nonstop since she was 5 months old (she doesn't even take much time off to molt). I live in Southeast Texas where we have temps above 90 for the greater part of the year, and high humidity most of the year--wet and cold winters. My Rock has thrived well in the winter, and done OK in the heat of the summer. Barred rocks are generally friendly, have good livability, and excellent meat flavor. This is the breed I would recommend you.
    I also think a few Easter Eggers would be a great part of your flock--they lay green, blue, pink tinted eggs. They generally tolerate the heat well, but are more comfortable in the cold. People have had good success with Black Australorps, other types of Rocks, Rhode island reds (egg machines, and very hardy, but not as friendly), and sex links (these are hybrids)
    Hope this helps! Please feel free to ask me any more questions and I'll do my best to answer them for you :)

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