Backyard chickens are a popular activity with many urban dwellers now — who can resist fresh eggs and their amusing personalities? But if you live in a hot spot like I do, it can be difficult to know which chickens do well in warmer climates. Chickens tend to weather the cold temps more than they do the sweltering summer, but there are chicken breeds that do better when the mercury rises.
In general, smaller chickens are more heat tolerant, as are those with un-feathered feet and larger combs. However, I know of urban farmers who have heavily feathered Brahmas that do quite well in their warm climates, so please check with your local feed store or breeder for specific recommendations for your area. That being said, here are the top 5 chicken breeds for warm climates — if you read lots of articles about heat-tolerant breeds you’ll find many different suggestions, but these 5 appear on nearly every list.
1. Barred Plymouth Rock — These are some of the best all-round chickens out there. Not only are they heat-tolerant, they do well in the cold, and they lay 200-280 brown eggs a year. They have black and white feathers that look striped, and while they are okay with confinement, they like roaming around better.
2. Orpington — Orpingtons can have many colorations (I have a Buff), but aside from being a good breed for the heat, they are some of the sweetest birds you can find. They’ll lay up to 190 light brown eggs per year, are great meat birds, and also do well in colder climates.
3. Easter Egger — These chickens have a wide range of appearance, but what they have in common are their blue, green, and even pink-tinged eggs. They have sweet, docile personalities, and will lay up to 280 eggs per year.
4. Rhode Island Red — RIR’s take the summer in stride as well as the winter. They are friendly, somewhat bossy birds that have rusty red feathers and lay up to 300 brown eggs per year. They’re also a large enough size to be used for meat.
5. Welsummer — Any chicken with the word “summer” in its name should do well in the heat, right? These golden brown chickens are dual purpose, great for both meat and egg production. Hens lay about 160 dark brown eggs a year, are intelligent and friendly, and prefer free-ranging rather than hanging.