Get your flock started with the right kind of birds for you. Learn the pros and cons of starting with chicks or mature chickens.
A question that is often asked by people who are planning to start keeping chickens, is whether they should start with baby chicks, or if they should get some grown hens.
Today I am going to share a couple points for you to consider, to help make the choice that is right for you.
In the video below, I discuss the issue of chicks vs. grown hens as shared in the article below. I also share what the difference is between straight run and pullets, and share more helpful tips for the first time chicken owner.
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Starting with Chicks as your First Chickens
When you start off with chicks, you have the benefit of seeing how quickly they grow. Depending upon how much time you spend with them, they may become very tame and allow you to handle them.
It is fun to see just how quickly they grow and develop – much faster than you would imagine.
Things to keep in mind:
If you start with chicks, you will need some extra equipment, like a brooder – an environment to keep them warm and safe and give them a place to start out. I will be sharing an article about brooding chicks in the near future.
Chicks are delicate. It is not uncommon to lose one or two with every batch of chicks that you raise. If you have young kids, this can be a good lesson, or a terrible one.
You know your children and what they can or can’t handle. It is not uncommon to lose an adult chicken now and again as well, but it seems worse when it is a chick.
If you start with chicks, prepare their coop before you get them. Not just the brooder, but the coop itself. The chicks will grow much faster than you think and will outgrow their brooder in a very short time.
Once they are able to go outside, you will have to be diligent to keep them safe from predators. Young chickens are easy pickings for a hawk or other hunter.
Grown Hens for your First Chickens
While raising chicks from the start is a lot of fun, there are benefits to starting with grown chickens as well.
The biggest benefit of starting with grown hens is that they are already going to be near, or at laying age. If your goal is to have fresh eggs, this is a huge perk.
Additionally, if you start with grown hens, you don’t have the added up-front expense of a brooder and other starter equipment that you would need for chicks.
Things to consider about starting with hens or pullets for your first chickens:
When you get new chickens, there is normally a bit of a wait before the laying begins. If your hens were already laying when you acquired them, it usually takes a few days for them to get acclimated to their new home and environment. Moving and new places are stressful for the hens. Once they feel at home though, the laying begins again.
If you start with pullets – juvenile hens that aren’t yet laying – the wait will be a little longer since you are waiting for them to reach maturity. Most breeds begin laying at 4-8 months of age. But the wait will be much less than if you started with the day-old chicks that you get from the farm supply store, or that come in the mail.
Additionally, if you start with pullets or hens, they may be a bit stand-offish about you and not as friendly than if you had raised them from chicks.
A hen’s peak years for laying are the first two. If you get an older hen, she will still lay, but she will not lay as frequently as she would have in her most productive years.
These are points to consider when making your decision to start keeping chickens. In my opinion, I feel it is easier to start with pullets or hens, if for no other reason than there is less to purchase, prepare or worry about than with chicks.
But you should weigh your options and make the choice that is best for you.