Did you know that summer is harder for chickens than winter? That’s why you need heat hardy chickens if you live in hot climates.
Everyone stresses about the winter, but chickens struggle more in the summer than the winter. Selecting some of the best chicken breeds for hot weather reduces the discomfort your flock feels.
Chickens survive in nearly any environment, but some handle warmer temperatures better than others. Most breeds handle a few weeks of hot temperatures throughout the summer, but what about if you live in year-round warm climates?
Are there best chicken breeds for Texas or chicken breeds for Florida?
If you live in a year-round warm climate, you want to pick heat hardy chicken breeds that are less likely to express heat stress or heat strokes.
Make sure you read all of my tips to keep your flock cool during the summer.
How to Pick the Most Heat Hardy Chickens
If you spend time around chickens, you’ll notice that birds don’t sweat like humans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have ways to stay cool. They do!
Chicken owners worry that their flock will struggle in the winter, but chickens have a normal body temperature between 105-107 degrees F. They’re much better equipped to handle the hot temperatures than other animals.
Chickens regulate their temperature through their wattles and combs, which have a lot of capillaries. Capillaries circulate their body heat and blood close to the surface of the skin. When they’re hot, the heat dissipates out of the combs and wattles quickly.
This means that the best chickens for hot weather are those with large combs and wattles.
It’s also why breeds with small combs and wattles are better as cold hardy chickens.
Smaller birds also stay cooler easier than large birds.
Other ways that chickens stay cool include:
- They pull their wings away from their bodies to increase airflow under their wings.
- Chickens pant, similar to dogs.
So, if you want to pick a heat hardy chicken breeds, here are some factors to consider.
- Pick breeds with large combs and wattles, so that the chickens cool themselves efficiently.
- Smaller breeds with less body fat have higher surface area to body weight, which helps them cool faster.
- Pick breeds with few feathers. That means stay away from breeds with feathers on their feet!
- Some heat hardy chickens have lighter feather patterns, helping their feathers reflect the sunlight.
- Some chicken owners believe that the best chickens for hot weather are those that lay white-colored eggs, but there is no proof to this.
What Hot Temperatures Can Chickens Tolerate?
Fact is that most chickens handle cold temperatures better than hot temperatures.
Chickens prefer temperatures between 55-75 degrees F. When the temperatures rise above 80 degrees, it adds stress to their body, especially when you add in high humidity.
The most danger to your chickens comes when there is a sudden spike in temperature rather than the typical, gradual increase.
Temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit increase the risk of heat stress and heat-related illnesses. Chickens die from the heat, and prolonged high heat increases the stress placed on the chicken’s body.
The 11 Best Chicken Breeds for Hot Weather
Think about your climate and weather before picking the chicken breeds that you want to raise. If you have all four seasons, a mixed flock is fine. If you live in a year-round warm climate, these are the best heat-hardy chickens.
There is a reason why you see Orpington chickens on nearly every single chicken breed list – they’re the quintessential, all-around, backyard chicken breed. No matter if you need a cold hardy chicken or a heat hardy chicken, Orpingtons have your back.
Even though these chickens are larger, they adapt to most climates, and they come in different variations. Buff Orpingtons are the most recognize variation, but it’s not the only.
Buffs are docile, kid-friendly, and lay almost 200 brown eggs a year. I have to encourage you to try this breed. They also are on my list as:
- Some of the best broody hens.
- One of the best egg-laying chickens
- A great chicken breed for small backyards
Literally, Orpingtons do it all.
2. Easter Egger
I had a true fondness for Easter Egger chickens. Some of my sweetest chickens have been Easter Eggers.
In recent years, this breed grew in popularity because they lay multicolored eggs, including blue, green, and pink. Each chicken is different, which makes egg collecting more exciting. However, they handle the heat well in year-round warm climates.
I love how sweet and docile these birds are. They lay around 280 eggs per year and rarely stop producing due to hot or cold temperatures.
3. Barred Plymouth Rocks
Barred Rocks are some of the most dependable chickens that you can own. Some people think that because they aren’t a “fancy” breed that they’re boring and not useful to own.
These are serious heat tolerant chickens that lay well over 200 brown eggs per year. They survive in hot and cold climates, and they love attention.
Old, stand-by breeds are sometimes ignore by new chicken owners wanting to have the best flock, but they’re dependable birds for a reason. Expect Barred Rocks to be docile and attention-loving, so they work well if you need a kid-friendly chicken breed.
4. Rhode Island Red
Some of the very first chickens I owned were Rhode Island Reds, and they were great chickens for beginners. As you might suspect from their name, RIRs originates in the northeastern part of the US, so they handle temperature fluctuations well.
If you want cold and heat-hardy chickens, try Rhode Island Reds. They’re rust-colored chickens that love to forage and prefer to free-range when they have the opportunity. Expect these birds to lay between 250-300 eggs per year.
5. New Hampshire Red
New Hampshire Red chickens is a spin-off of the Rhode Island Reds with bits from other breeds. They have a similar heat tolerance as RIRs, known for being heat-hardy chickens.
New Hampshire Reds like living in confinement as well as free-ranging. They’re considered a dual-purpose bird that lay plenty of eggs per year, well over 200 eggs.
This is another breed that I think people pass over too often in favor of specialty breeds. I have an order of chicks arriving in a few weeks containing a few Welsummer chicks, and I’m excited.
They do have the name “summer” in their breed, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they handle hot temperatures well.
Welsummers have pale golden-brown feathers and often are raisedas dual-purpose chickens. They lay lovely, chocolate-colored eggs, up to 200 per year. If you breed chickens for egg colors and want speckled eggs, breed with welsummers!
Otherwise, it’s said that these chickens are friendly and smart breeds. If you want birds to free-range, they are great foragers.
7. White Leghorn
Without a doubt, White Leghorns are some of the most common chicken breeds raised by commercial egg farmers and backyard chicken owners. This is a productive egg layer, but they’re also one of the best hardy chickens for cold weather.
These might not be the cutest chickens,but they lay eggs at an early age. They are known for being active and intelligent chickens.
I have to tell you that we lost our Brahma chicken, Betsy, a few months ago. She was three years old and a fantastic chicken. I can’t wait to add a few more Brahmas to our flock.
Despite being a larger breed with feathered feet, they’re known for being a heat-tolerant chicken breed. Personally, I would avoid them if you live in somewhere extremely warm all year-round, but they work great in areas with four seasons.
Brahmas have sweet positions and lay between 150-200 eggs per year. They love to free range, but they handle living in confinement as well, so don’t worry.
Never heard of Andalusian chickens? These chickens originate in Spain, so they handle heat well. These are a rare breed that is trying to come back from near extinction.
Andalusian chickens are noisy, active birds that like to free range, but they handle confinement well. They lay a lot of white eggs.
Fayoumi is a chicken breed native to Egypt, which makes them a great choice for chicken breeds for hot weather. They love to forage and free-range, and they thrive in warm climates.
The downside to raising Fayoumi chickens is that they only lay 2-3 eggs per week. They more of an exhibition bird than an egg-laying production chicken.
Sumatra chickens are beautiful birds that are native to the tropics, so they handle heat and humidity better than most breeds. These birds stand out because they have gorgeous, green-black, glossy feathers that are iridescent in the sunlight.
However, these are exhibition or ornamental birds. They’re hard to tame and don’t lay too many eggs. If you raise them, it’s because you love how they look.
5 Chicken Breeds That Aren’t Heat Hardy Chickens
Not all breeds handle the heat well. While it varies from chicken to chicken, these are a few chicken breeds that aren’t heat hardy.
- Cornish Cross
- Jersey Giant
Pick The Right Chickens
If you live in a year-round hot climate, you want to pick some of the best chicken breeds for hot weather. These breeds handle high temperatures better than others and have a lower risk of heat related deaths. Make sure to raise a heat-hardy chicken flock.