Hello, I will soon be raising a few chickens in my backyard. I live in Indiana. My main reason is for pets and eggs. I don't plan on breeding them. What chickens are good egg producers that do well in our climate in the midwest?
My Black Australorp and RIR did well, as did my rehomed Barred Rock.
Dominiques (and other pea combed breeds) are less likely to suffer frost bite.
My Leghorn seemed more uncomfortable in cold weather.
Check out the breed selection chart, for helpful info on this topic.
I'm in IN too. My Dominiques, americauna, bantam cochin, d'anvers and faverolles all do well in the winter. I just had a few little frostbit tips on an OE, but nothing to worry over. Just made sure they can get in the barn, have good bedding and can stay out of the wind.
There is a nice selection tool at My Pet Chicken that helps you prioritize - cold hardiness, docility, production, etc. I hear there is an ap for an iPhone too, from McMurray, to help you select the breed that wil meet your needs. Just remember, there's no perfect choice, and you can't go far wrong - make a reasonable (maybe nothing too exotic at first) choice and go with it. You will learn what you like and don't like and move on from there. I love my EE's, Orphingtons and Australorps for their hardiness, productivity, friendliness, and variety of egg color. My Wyandottes lay best thru the winter, forage well, a little flighty. My Cochins are friendly and lovely, fluffy birds, good broody mamas, don't lay all that well and don't have much instinct for self-preservation. I'm crazy about all of them, but my experiences will color my future selections. You learn as you go along. It's (almost all) good and very much a matter of individual preference. For instance, I will never have Polish chickens again for various reasons, yet taprock feels very positively about them. But we're both right! Good luck!