Hot Breeds for Hot Climates March 28, 2012
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.
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.
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):
Barred Plymouth Rocks
Speckled Sussex (so pretty)
Red or Black Stars
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):
Silkies (I haven’t kept silkies yet, but they are on my list – good ole’ Chicken Math)
Easter Egger Bantams
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.