A Hen breed that can survive harsh Canadian winter without heating


Jedi Master
Poule/Hen: Chantecler
Now listed as Canadian heritage but its population is very low and threatens its survival.
Resulting from genetic crosses, designed by a monk from Oka Abbey in the last century.
It's been created to prevent hens from dying in the winter because their crest and barb would freeze.

Here is a documentary about Canadian Horse, Canadian cow and Chantecler Hen (starts at 5:32). French video, but you can have English subtitles.

Here is a small-scale producer of chicks and eggs located North of Montreal: Saint-Calixte, Lanaudière - Maître Poulier

I forgot to add his post on Facebook:
Permaculture Québec | Je crois que la poule #chantecler est LA poule permaculturelle du Québec | Facebook

Je crois que la poule #chantecler est LA poule permaculturelle du Québec.
* Elle est très rustique
* Passe l’hiver sans chauffage
* Elle est une « bonne » pondeuse (taux de ponte de 60%)
* C’est un succulent poulet de chair (1.6kg net à 16 semaines)
* Assez vigoureuse et futé pour trouver une bonne partie de sa nourriture.
J’ai un petit élevage et j'essaie d’aider à sauvegarder cette partie de notre patrimoine Québécois. J’offre donc des :
* poussins chantecler blanc non sexé 7$/ch pour 10+

believe that the #chantecler chicken is THE permacultural chicken of Quebec.
* It is very rustic
* Spends the winter without heating
* She is a “good” layer (laying rate of 60%)
* This is a succulent broiler chicken (1.6kg net at 16 weeks)
* Vigorous and smart enough to find a good portion of its food.
I have a small livestock farm and I try to help save this part of our Quebec heritage. I therefore offer:
* unsexed white chantecler chicks $7/each for 10+
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From a 3d pov, the question seems to be whether it can survive the next ice age up in Canada?
I doubt anything or anyone can survive an ice age if they are located in the coldest part of the planet, enduring 12 months of winter.
Meanwhile, this breed may help people by saving on heating expenses 😉
I doubt anything or anyone can survive an ice age if they are located in the coldest part of the planet, enduring 12 months of winter.
Meanwhile, this breed may help people by saving on heating expenses 😉

Well, we don't know what this ice age will look like. It's a mystery! Full blown ice age? Or mini ice age? The Maunder Minimum was harsh, but there were still tons of ships from Europe traveling to North America the whole time. It was cold, yes, and there was famine and war and conquest, but many people lived through it, and some even found time for adventuring. The book A Cold Welcome goes into all this in detail.

I also remember that during the last mini ice age, there were also some parts of the globe that actually warmed in some strange places according to this NASA map. So who knows, maybe those chickens will be just fine! They're hardy birds even without special breeds.


When I lived in the Kootenays, it was common to only provide ducks and chickens with heat at night, via a red heat lamp - and it gets down to -30C sometimes. My neighbours kept theirs in a greenhouse, and the heat of the birds fills the greenhouse itself, creating a thermal battery. If in doubt, put 'em inside an insulated shed with some kind of heater and they'll be toasty. Or if it really gets too cold, bring them inside the house. There are certain designs of ages past for houses in Europe designed where there was basically a huge entrance room, like a barn inside the house for bringing livestock inside during the winter.

Some farmers keep their cows inside for winter even now. The bonus is that when you let them out, they are very cute:

Here's another local farmer trying an experiment this summer: feeding his chickens without any grains.
He is very resourceful and has a lot of great tips to share. I bought his book which is almost a "step-by-step" on how to setup a small operation for meat chickens. Although his book is mostly helpful for Quebec province in regards to pointing out all the regional rules and regulations, the section about the chickens is somewhat universal.

Book link (available in PDF and Epub also):

His Facebook post with video:
Exciting experience on the farm this summer: raising a cohort of poultry, born on the farm, without using feed. Every day, I weigh and record everything I feed the chickens. Once a week, I weigh my experimental cohort and I also weigh other cohorts fed with feed. All this will give me, at the end of the summer, some interesting data to share!

These are mixed poultry raised for their meat. Born on the farm thanks to the incubation of the fertile eggs of our laying hens.
They are raised in mobile cages. Access to wildlife is thus limited... I have to bring to the poultry what they could go to in nature... The joys and misery of breeding.

I start with broiler chickens because they are smaller (at first) and they are slaughtered at the end of the summer. Unlike hens, there is a beginning and an end within a few months. For now, goat milk (in all its forms) is my lifeline... Along with kale and the slaughter residues of the kids (which happens in June).

“Agricultural cooperatives” generally only offer one breed, fast-growing poultry. To find something else, you have to search. Yannick at Maître Poulier offers the Chantecler, a good starting choice. He could also refer you to other breeders. I have accumulated my breeds of chickens over the years. And when I have the chance, I buy roosters who will inject their genetics into the flock... My mixed flock was built in ten years.

Q: I think Sean and Sacha do this at Edible Acres too. In addition to letting the chickens play in the big compost pile, Sean leaves logs (slices) of wood everywhere, the insects accumulate underneath, then he turns them over so the chickens eat what lives underneath.

A: I must not be the first to try to cut on the feed! But these are chickens for meat, raised in mobile cages. More difficult to use these techniques. Above all, I try to offer them a piece of lush pasture every morning, BEFORE giving them food. As for the big compost pile, I only compost manure here. Although chickens will eat goat manure, it is not the same as a pile of food scraps. I saw a farm in the United States that did that, but the food they composted was an input delivered by trucks...

Q: Will you also calculate the price of food for comparison?

A: I know how much the feed costs, but, as is the case with most industrial manufacturing inputs, the selling price is not the real ecological cost... The idea here is to ask yourself : to what extent is it possible to produce food autonomously, that is to say by limiting inputs as much as possible. If I produce chickens by feeding them 100% feed, well if I run out of feed, my chickens die. So by only giving feed to chickens, I find myself essentially being a feed processor... But to answer your question 😆 it will be difficult to calculate the value of the feed I give to chickens... one thing is certain, nothing is purchased and almost everything is produced here, except the dry bread that the baker gives me once a week in exchange for farm products. I try not to give too much bread, because it is still an input... but an input accessible in most small communities that are lucky enough to have a small baker... But I use exclusively dry bread to “drink” the whey and allow the chickens to consume it more easily. No more bread, I can still give some whey. In any case, to be continued!

I'll share the gist here. Given the work that it represents, I think that this is a technique that will be more easily applied to breeding for self-consumption than to a commercial practice. But it is also towards this type of agriculture that I think we must move collectively...

Q: You're going to give a lot more non-feed than feed by weight! 🙂
On the sustainability side too, not sure about giving food that humans could eat? Table scraps ok, but Kale?

A: There is always a limit to the amount of kale a human can eat :) But isn't this a false debate? Or rather a debate on the degree of processing of the foods we eat? Why produce olive oil when you can eat olives? Why several kinds of apples when just one would be “enough”? Why leave some pastures intact rather than razing them all to plant corn and soybeans? The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind: because we seek to make our senses "sing" down here... In short, here on the farm, my animal proteins (which I consider essential to a "good" life ) come from poultry (flesh, bones, organs and eggs) and goats (milk, flesh, bones, organs). If part of my kale is used to feed poultry and ruminants, it is not waste in my opinion. No more than if I offer it to a visiting human... Moreover, I offer my poultry around fifty foodstuffs to replace the feed, foodstuffs that I could have composted to grow plants, but when I look at what's in my fridge and what's left in my freezer at this time of year, I understand the importance of converting plant matter into animal matter: it keeps well, it is nourishing and tastes good. Finally, in the same way that I want to give my plants “homemade” compost so that they grow well, I prefer to try to feed my animals with “homemade” compost. Otherwise, I am only a link in the chain and a chain is more fragile than we think: all it takes is one loose link and... As for the weight of the feed, the product par excellence of the Productivist agriculture, I understand its practical side well. Hop, a shovelful in the feeder and that's it. But if you don't have feed, what do you do? And if your chicks no longer arrive from the hatchery, what do you do? And if the big truck doesn't come and pick up your big, fast-growing Ross to take them to the slaughterhouse, what are you doing? I do that.

Q: But do you count your time?

A: Never! But no joke, the experimental phase will be much more difficult to manage than the final implementation. However, you have to find the balance between doing everything and buying anything. Definitely a scenario for self-consumers above all!

p.s. I tried to not insert the FB link and just paste the URL as text. In my post preview, it would not load the video, which is what I wanted to avoid slowing down the forum. Once I post it, the video shows up. Sorry, I tried.
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