Keeping cold hardy chicken breeds is crucial to any chicken keepers raising their flock in a climate with harsh winters.
But limiting yourself to birds who lay well in the cold still allows you to raise a variety of adorable and easygoing birds!
The unique Ameraucana hen is cold hardy and lays reasonably well during the colder months. One of three known blue egg layers, Ameraucanas are healthy and versatile birds who easily tolerate cooler temperatures due to their fluffy plumage.
Even hardy breeds of chicken need some special care during especially cold weather.
Keep reading to learn more about Ameraucana chickens and how to help them endure those tough winter months.
What Makes Ameraucanas Cold Hardy?
Ameraucanas have thick, fluffy feathers to help protect their bodies from the worst of the cold temperatures.
These warm feathers are just the beginning, though.
Whereas some chicken breeds are at increased risk of frostbitten combs and wattles, Ameraucanas are quite the opposite.
They are single-comb birds, and their pea combs are small.
This means they are less likely to experience frostbite in winter than other breeds.
Furthermore, Ameraucanas are active and generally healthy.
Their blue egg genes may earn them the most recognition, but this bird has impressive genes all around!
Bantam varieties of Ameraucana chickens (regardless of color) are not as well-suited to withstand harsh temperatures.
No bantam breed is big enough to survive the intense cold because they do not have the stores of body fat needed to maintain body heat.
The standard-size Ameraucanas, though, are masterfully hardy birds.
Do Ameraucanas Lay in the Winter?
Ameraucana hens can lay in the winter, provided they are well cared for.
Their brilliant blue eggs would be missed all winter if they simply quit laying.
But fear not because these birds do not disappoint.
Their excellent egg production may slow down a bit with the rest of your backyard poultry.
This is a completely natural and healthy decrease in production!
A hen’s ability to lay eggs consistently and reliably is contingent on its access to all the necessary resources.
Give your birdies plenty of calcium, food, water, and open space to forage and explore.
Related Post: Ameraucana Chicken Diet & Food Guide
These are all important steps to raising healthy Ameraucanas.
In the winter, your foraging breeds like the Ameraucana may be missing out on some of those bugs and other treats they were able to snack on in the summer.
Consider getting treats to help them take in more nutrients and feel their best.
Treats like this one on Amazon make a real difference for your laying hens and are pretty inexpensive.
This will help keep up egg production and lift your birdies’ spirits in the process!
Caring for Your Winter Hardy Ameraucanas
Hardy birds are not invincible birds.
Caring for any chicken flock in the winter means taking some precautions to ensure they are safe from the worst of the cold.
Here are our suggestions:
- Keep them dry
- Feed them well
- Insulate the coop
First and foremost, this means minimizing the chances of your birds’ feathers getting wet.
Wet feathers are disastrous for any breed of chicken at any time of the year.
However, in the winter, this is a recipe for frostbite, which is sometimes lethal for chickens, or other illnesses.
Ameraucanas are not at high risk for developing frostbite on their combs or wattles, which is wonderful.
But unnecessary exposure to damp and cold conditions is still bad and threatens their health.
If you use open waterers in the summertime, consider switching to something with smaller gaps in the winter.
When your Ameraucana hens can’t step in the waterer or dunk their whole head in (on purpose or by mistake), they are less likely to get sick from the cold temperatures.
Feeding your birds well is an obvious necessity and something we do all year round.
But having all the needed nutrients in their systems helps your active birds maintain their body temperature and keep up with egg production.
Insulating the coop is sometimes difficult, but ensuring chicken health is very important!
For any of you who use chicken wire on the coop windows during the warmer months, winter is a good time to cover those windows up tight!
Give the coop a good cleaning before winter hits full force, and make sure there are no gaps in the walls or floor where drafts will come in and chill your egg layers.
Cover them up as well as possible.
It doesn’t need to be fancy, just effective!
Benefits of Ameraucanas
Of course, Ameraucana hens are not the only prolific layers with friendly personalities and cold hardy bodies.
However, they bring a lot to the table.
The Ameraucana is a breed of dual-purpose birds with distinct personalities, bantam, and standard-size counterparts, excellent egg production, blue egg genes, and a wide range of pattern varieties.
This breed comes in various colors, including the Blue Ameraucana, Silver Ameraucana, Lavender Ameraucana, Black Ameraucana, and several others.
Many of these varieties appear to have multicolored feathers, which seems only fitting considering the Ameraucana is one of only three blue-egg-laying birds in the poultry world.
There are many birds with friendly dispositions, pretty feathers, or cold hardy traits on the market.
But the Ameraucana combines several desirable traits in one incredible bird, which is why they are such a popular cold-weather chicken breed.
Compared with other popular breeds of adaptive chickens, Ameraucanas are somewhat smaller.
The Brahma, Orpington, and other particularly large breeds are some of the most adored cold-weather chickens.
While standard chickens tend to weigh around 5 pounds at maturity (typical for Ameraucanas, Rhode Island Reds, and many others), some of these popular cold hardy breeds grow to eight pounds or more.
Ameraucanas require less coop space but are equally friendly chickens with beautiful feather colors, a range of personalities, and brilliant blue eggs.