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Is there a best time of the year to start incubation and raising chicks?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm fairly new to the wide world of chickens and I was wondering if there is a specific time of the year where it is better to raise the chicks..
post #2 of 7

For someone just starting out, I'd recommend that you spend the winter reading and gaining as much knowledge as possible, getting your coop and brooder ready, then start your chicks early in the spring.  Suggested reading:  The small flock poultry keeper by Harvey Ussery., And the following articles or topics on BYC: "Yes you certainly can brood chicks outdoors",  Fermented feed, Deep litter, Hatching eggs 101 (if you're interested in incubating to get your chicks!)  Any and all of the excellent articles in the learning center about brooding chicks, raising chickens, incubation...  Plenty to keep you on a steep learning curve through the winter.  Also, check out "Henderson's chicken breeds thread."  

Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

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Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

Reply
post #3 of 7

Spring is considered the best time to raise chicks due to increasing day length; lower incidence of coccidiosis in cool, outdoor temperatures; and an abundance of fresh, tender, nutritious vegetation for them to eat.  

The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazy gardener View Post

For someone just starting out, I'd recommend that you spend the winter reading and gaining as much knowledge as possible, getting your coop and brooder ready, then start your chicks early in the spring.  Suggested reading:  The small flock poultry keeper by Harvey Ussery., And the following articles or topics on BYC: "Yes you certainly can brood chicks outdoors",  Fermented feed, Deep litter, Hatching eggs 101 (if you're interested in incubating to get your chicks!)  Any and all of the excellent articles in the learning center about brooding chicks, raising chickens, incubation...  Plenty to keep you on a steep learning curve through the winter.  Also, check out "Henderson's chicken breeds thread."  
Thank you so much! Very helpful! My family moved into a house and there are two coops. The people we bought it from left some of their chickens with us. She also left some basic care books for me that I've read up on. So I am going to be going through my hens when I'm ready determining whose laying and whose not to replace them with young chicks who will produce once old enough. Wish me luck! Thanks again!
post #5 of 7

I think alot of it depends on where you live. If you are up north like me,  fall and winter aren't ideal for hatching weatherwise. If you live in the warmer areas where you have pretty mild weather through the winter, one advantage to hatching in the fall is your chicks are maturing during the winter and shorter days so by spring you already have pullets headed into laying. I just read an article in a chicken mag that highy recommended fall hatching if you are able because of the benefits.

Need help incubating/hatching? Are you more a hands on hatcher? Come visit us: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1081034/hands-on-hatching-and-help

A guide to hatching from the hands on perspective: http://hatching411.weebly.com/

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Need help incubating/hatching? Are you more a hands on hatcher? Come visit us: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1081034/hands-on-hatching-and-help

A guide to hatching from the hands on perspective: http://hatching411.weebly.com/

Reply
post #6 of 7
As long as you have hens laying eggs and a rooster fertilizing them you can hatch eggs at any time. What is best is going to be different for each of us depending on our unique circumstances and how we intend to go about that. Since I don’t know much about your unique circumstances I’ll try to be fairly generic. There will be some “ifs” too.

A lot of times the best time to do something is when you can. If you plan in using a broody hen then you need a hen to go broody before you can start. If you use an incubator you can hatch at any time of the year. Not every hen goes broody. You cannot control if or when a hen goes broody. While some hens do go broody in the fall and winter, the vast majority that will go broody at all choose spring or summer. That’s when food is more plentiful and the weather typically is not as harsh. If you are counting on a broody hen you may never get one. The only way to control that is to use an incubator.

Your climate can have a big part to play. It really helps in a lot of these questions if you modify your profile to give us a rough idea of your location. There is a big difference in Perth, Australia and Denver, Colorado. When you collect the eggs to hatch you don’t want them to go through extreme temperature changes. You can still get eggs to hatch but your hatch rate is normally better if they don’t go through extreme hot or especially cold. If they freeze there isn’t a lot of hope for them. I’ve hatched eggs year around, even in winter, and gotten pretty decent hatch rates, but I normally get better hatch rates when I collect eggs in better weather.

To me it is best to not brood chicks in the house. That’s personal preference, many people do and enjoy brooding them inside. But with the dust, noise, and potential smell I have a much better chance of staying married if I brood them outside. My brooder is built into the coop. I’ve put chicks straight from the incubator to that brooder when the outside temperatures were below freezing. But the risks are higher in colder weather. A power outage or other mishap can be disastrous in brutal weather while in better weather it would maybe be an inconvenience. Many people are more willing to put the chicks outside in nice weather as opposed to tough weather. In nicer weather you can move chicks raised in your house outside earlier than you can if the temperatures are brutal. Not knowing where you are I don’t know how bad your winters really are.

If your chickens normally forage for a lot of their food (there’s that “if” word again) it will cost you more to feed them if you raise them through the winter and you have to buy more of what they eat. When you hatch eggs you can expect cockerels as well as pullets. What are your plans for those? If you raise them to butcher age it could be cheaper if they can forage for a lot of their food. Also, when the cockerels hit adolescence (if you keep them that long) things can get really active with the hormones kicking in. Extra space can come in really handy at that time. If you get a lot of snow in winter space may be at a premium.

Think a bit about your travel schedule. Some people visit family or have family visit around the holidays. How would that work out for you with baby chicks? That is a consideration for me, but not necessarily for everyone.

That’s all I can think of right now. I don’t know which if any of these apply to you and I don’t know what the best answer is for you. We are all unique.

Good luck!

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridgerunner View Post

To me it is best to not brood chicks in the house. That’s personal preference, many people do and enjoy brooding them inside. But with the dust, noise, and potential smell I have a much better chance of staying married if I brood them outside. My brooder is built into the coop. I’ve put chicks straight from the incubator to that brooder when the outside temperatures were below freezing. But the risks are higher in colder weather. A power outage or other mishap can be disastrous in brutal weather while in better weather it would maybe be an inconvenience. Many people are more willing to put the chicks outside in nice weather as opposed to tough weather. In nicer weather you can move chicks raised in your house outside earlier than you can if the temperatures are brutal. Not knowing where you are I don’t know how bad your winters really are.

 

LOL  

 

I love brooding in the house especially the first 4 weeks. Between 4-6 weeks it gets harder.  My first successful hatch hatched out in November so I thought no big deal, I have the room inside, I'll just keep them inside for the winter.  O...M...G!!!!! Never ever ever again!! 1 or 2 may be doable if it is absolutely neccessary but I had 7 in our extra bedroom. I fashioned a temp coop for them and everything, but between the cleaning and dust..oh the dust....I'm still finding dust on stuff that was stored in there. It was awful. Plus I had 2 roos I was keeping. Nothing like a young cockerel crowing at 5 am from the room next to you! Nope lesson learned here. I am still willing to brood in house the first 4 weeks, but they get moved the the cage in the coop ASAP after that.

 

I just recently had my first broody hatch out 3 eggs. It's pretty cold here. Got down to 20 last night. They are just over a week now. Since about day 3 every time I go out to check they are running around with momma, selom are they hiding under her. It's made me realize I need to relax just a bit about worrying about the cold. Every time I put chicks out to the coop I spend the first week worrying about  them (and that's in decent temps...lol)

Need help incubating/hatching? Are you more a hands on hatcher? Come visit us: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1081034/hands-on-hatching-and-help

A guide to hatching from the hands on perspective: http://hatching411.weebly.com/

Reply

Need help incubating/hatching? Are you more a hands on hatcher? Come visit us: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1081034/hands-on-hatching-and-help

A guide to hatching from the hands on perspective: http://hatching411.weebly.com/

Reply
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