Hot Breeds for Hot Climates March 28, 2012

A Barred Plymouth Rock and 2 Easter Egger hens

As Josh stated in his blog, there are many different types of chickens to choose from and you need to decide which types are best for your situation.  My family prefers  friendly, docile hens that are also decent layers.  We also need breeds that do well in the heat, since we live in an area where the temperatures can reach over 110 degrees during the summer.

A few years ago, my family started our chicken raising experience with baby chicks purchased from our local feed store.   We started with a few basic breeds; Leghorn, Barred Plymouth Rock, Black Star, Rhode Island Red, and Easter Eggers (incorrectly labeled as Araucanas).   Just a short time later, we were lucky enough to find a couple Barnevelders too.  My girls and I enjoyed raising and keeping chickens and the Easter Eggers quickly became my daughters’ favorites. 

One of the cute little Frizzles raised by one of my Barnevelder hens

Like most chicken owners, ‘Chicken Math’ quickly started up in our home too.  I was no longer satisfied with our original small flock and wanted more chickens.  Since the Easter Eggers were our favorites, how could I resist the special on Easter Egger chicks that My Pet Chicken was holding in the fall of 2009?   These new Easter Eggers arrived in a variety of colors – colors and patterns I didn’t even know existed in the chicken world.

Before I knew it, we had a couple of broodies in our coop …. I certainly couldn’t waste the chick raising and egg hatching services my  broody hens were offering to me.  A few Frizzles, Buff Orpingtons, Australorps, and even a Light Brahma joined us and were raised by our hens.   Pure Ameraucana eggs were also purchased and hatched in my home-made incubator.

Easter eggs every day

I love the Easter colored eggs I get to collect each day

Even though we were enamored with our beautiful, personable chickens and the nice variety of egg colors (white, tan, olive green, blue, and mint green), it didn’t take me long to want to try even more breeds and to try for some of those ‘dark’ brown egg layers I had heard about.

By 2010, I was working for My Pet Chicken and had learned a great deal more about the different chicken breeds.   There is no way to resist ‘Chicken Math’ when you are working for a chicken-friendly company like MPC and it didn’t take me long to decide which types I should add to our flock next.   The Partridge Plymouth Rock, Speckled Sussex, Welsummer, Black Copper Marans, Red Star, Delaware, Blue Andalusian, Polish, and Easter Egger Bantams were sent to us in my next 2 shipments of mail order chicks.

I love having a varied flock and 1-2 of each breed suits us fine.  Residing in the southwest has limited my choices to chickens that do well in hot climates.  For example; although I loved the personality of my Light Brahma, she did not fare well in the desert heat.   The eggs of my Black Copper Marans are absolutely beautiful (chocolate brown with speckles) and she made it through her first summer in the desert, but she still struggled more than my other hens during our hottest days last year.   I also prefer breeds that are good egg layers and have nice personalities.

This is a list of my favorite types of chickens for warmer climates (these breeds do not all make My Pet Chicken’s ‘exceptionally’ heat-hardy list, but have all done well in my  shaded desert coop):

Standard sizes
Barred Plymouth Rocks
Speckled Sussex  (so pretty)
Red or Black Stars
Orpingtons
Easter Eggers and Ameraucanas  (layers of blue or green eggs)
Welsummers  (nice layers of beautiful, dark brown eggs and according to Lissa is also a good choice for the Zombie Apocalypse)
Barnevelders  (a bit shy and doesn’t lay quite as well as my other hens, but is gorgeous and very quiet)

Bantams  (Bantam chickens are about 1/4 – 1/2 the size of a standard size chicken and lay small eggs – I enjoy keeping a few bantams for the cuteness factor):

Frizzle Cochins
Silkies
  (I haven’t kept silkies yet, but they are on my list – good ole’ Chicken Math)
Easter Egger Bantams

White Egg Layers (These 2 breeds are not typically as docile as the brown egg layers listed above, but they have their benefits as you can see here in Traci’s blog):
White Leghorns
Blue Andalusians

Dark, Chocolate Brown Egg Layers
Partridge Penedesencas  (I haven’t tried this breed yet, but if you want a chocolate brown egg layer that is very heat-hardy, this breed would be a great choice)

The breeds above are my personal favorites and are heat-hardy.  Click here to see My Pet Chicken’s breed selector tool to see what types are best for your situation and location.

Welsummer striking a pretty pose for the camera

3 of my cute little Easter Egger Bantams - mine lay little blue eggs

 

18 Comments
Robin March 28th, 2012

Thanks for the list. Last summer was the hottest summer I can remember in Austin, TX, and we began the first of many years of a severe drought. My gals all did fine. I have some of the breeds you mentioned, but also a Rhode Island White, and a New Hampshire. My neighbor has Marans, and almost lost one to the heat.

Courtney March 28th, 2012

Like Robin above I’m also in South Central Texas (San Antonio for us) and last year was a wicked nasty summer (this year is actually supposed to be worse – somehow) and also happened to be our first year raising our sweet feathered girls. We ordered from MPC’s Heat Hardy list, and got an Easter Egger, Barred Rock, and Red Star. Our Barred Rock was miserable in the heat – she was panting all day, and the first for her wings to droop in the sun. Our coop is fully shaded, 100% open air, and has water misters for cooling. Our other two did great, but I’m almost regretting our Barred Plymouth Rock – even though she’s my favorite of the flock, because I feel so bad for her in the warm/hot weather and it’d such a challenge to keep her cool. I’m hoping for better results this year since all three girls have now a) survived a whole summer and b) been outside in the spring leading up to the heat to acclimate a bit more instead of going from the brooder inside to the hot of the outside.

Tom G March 28th, 2012

I live in Mesa, AZ and have had many Cuckoo Marans with no problems.
The breeds I’ve had luck with:

white and brown leghorns
barred rocks
easter eggers
welsummers
rhode island reds
yellow sex link
new hampshire reds
silver wyandotte

Eggnata March 28th, 2012

Do you have any experience with Wyandottes? We live in east county San Diego and just got a silver laced and a golden laced chicks last week. I’ve wanted them from the beginning but couldn’t find a seller around us. We currently have a black australorp, a speckled sussex and a buff orphinton. They all did very well in the heat last summer. I also want an easter egger and I think after that my flock will be complete. :-)

LindaG March 28th, 2012

Really appreciate your article. We’ll be moving to Louisiana this year, and hope to have chickens there, so we’ll need breeds which are ‘warmer’ breeds.
It always bugs me when the majority of articles are directed towards birds that do well in Cold weather, or are ambiguous at best.

Gabriela March 29th, 2012

I also live in Austin, TX and the last summer was absolutely insane. Supposedly this summer will be not as hot, so I hope my source is right about this….
I have a diverse flock and here are the ones that handled the heat well (more or less):

Speckled Sussex, Wyandotte, Ameraucana, Ancona, black sex link (not the red sex links though), Australorp.
We just got 4 Maran chicks today and in April we’ll get 2 Delawares. One of the posts says that Marans don’t do well in the heat, I need to check that out right away.

Mary Ann March 29th, 2012

Gabriela, I believe the Silver Cuckoo Marans may handle the heat better than the heavily feather legged types, like my Black Copper Marans. It sounds as if Robin’s neighbors Marans also had trouble, but Tom G’s Silver Cuckoo Marans have been fine.

Mary Ann March 29th, 2012

Courtney – I’m surprised to hear your Barred Plymouth Rock struggles with the heat — mine have done very well and my 1 of 2 oldest hens, 3 1/2 years old, is a Barred Plymouth Rock. I guess there can be always be exceptions to the norm. ————

Eggnata — My first Wyandotte is only a couple weeks, in the brooder, with my first Silkies too, so I hope they do well. Gabriela has commented that hers have done well in the heat.

rebecca April 20th, 2012

In the dead of summer heat i plug in a box fan for my girls as well as keep a few two ltr bottles frozen to toss in the coop for their comfort. They seem to appreciate it and snuggle up to the cold bottles. Dallas tx.

Tara June 11th, 2012

I also live in San Antonio and just lost my beloved Speckled Sussex Lucy today. :( I’m convinced it was due to the heat. She was nearly 5 and struggled so badly with the heat every summer, gasping and panting. It was terrible to watch her suffer despite fans, misting her feathers etc. I would often have to bring her to live inside for the hottest days. This was my only experience with a Speckled Sussex so I’m always surprised when I see this breed on a heat-tolerant list. I’m actually hesitant to get another just based on my experience. Strangely, my light Brahma (who is now the sole remaining chicken bless her) seems to handle the heat just fine. It always seemed backwards to me – the S. Sussex struggled and the Brahma didn’t? Go figure. One breed I definitely don’t recommend for the heat is the standard cochin. So many feathers! Mine had a tough time but was actually better off than the S. Sussex.

Mary Ann June 13th, 2012

Tara,
I’m sorry for the loss of your Speckled Sussex. Besides my Speckled Sussex hen not having any trouble in our desert location, it sounds as if Egnata’s and Gabriela’s Speckled Sussex have done well in the heat also – I think there will always be exceptions to the rule.

Debbie June 28th, 2012

I am anticipating getting my own mixed flock soon, so I follow this site. I live between Houston and Galveston, Texas. The difference it seems to me between a particular chicken breed fairing well in one hot location versus another is the type of heat. Desert heat is hot during the day but dry and very cool at night. Whereas, east Texas heat can be dry but is usually very moist heat, and we do not cool down very much at sun down. Humid heat does not allow sweat or water vapor to dry off of you, so you stay soggy, hot, and miserable. The frozen water bottles seem like a great idea along with a fan.

Emily July 6th, 2013

I live in Casa Grande, AZ where it is hot, dry and usually windy. I’ve had wonderful success with my girls (Red and Black Sex-links and Australorps) and even when we had the 4 day heat wave last week of 119* during the day and 95* at night (with the dust storm winds!) they did amazing. They were panting in the afternoons but the misters kept them cool and they were still laying and running around like children in their play area. On another note, I tried the frozen water bottles and they wouldn’t have anything to do with them. My mama girl did though and her babies kept cool during that time.

Hannah September 23rd, 2013

Do the delaware chickens do good in hot weather? I live in lewiston id and this summer was really hot. I don’t have any chickens yet but i am thinking about the delaware and rhode island red.

Lissa September 27th, 2013

Yes, Delawares tend to do well in heat. Judging from the average high listed for your area on Wikipedia, it’s unlikely that you’d need to limit yourself only to especially heat hardy breeds. However, it never hurts to be prepared! The record high for your area is certainly sweltering–yeesh! Just be sure your birds have plenty of shade and access to cool water!

marianne desjardins June 24th, 2014

Can u use heat or cold to sex your chicks– 4 all female chicks???

Lissa July 2nd, 2014

No. However storage temperature can cause slight differences in the hatch ratio. Read more here on our website.

Jerry in Wildomar July 15th, 2014

I keep Rhode Island Reds, Silver Laced Wyondottes, and Black Astrolorps with no problems so far. Last summer we hit 115* a few times and I did hose them down during the hottest part of the day. Even the Coturnix quail had no problems. I’ve added a few Easter Eggers this year and hope they do well.

Leave a Reply