When someone decides to join the wonderful world of chicken keeping they may be unsure if they should start with day old chicks or started pullets.
I have done both. My first flock consisted mainly of chickens that arrived at my house as day old chicks. My second and current flock consists of 2 started Black Ameraucana pullets, an Easter Egger hen, 3 rescue bantams, 2 Silkie mixes, & 2 Black Breasted Red Araucana pullets.
When deciding if you want to start with chicks or started pullets many factors will affect your choice such as breeds available, the time of year, and how badly you want some fresh eggs.
The nice thing about getting started pullets is that they’re ready to be housed outside in their coop as soon as you bring them home. Chicks on the other hand require a brooder and a heat lamp.
If you are an instant gratification kind of person like me and don’t want to wait for fresh eggs then you are better off buying started pullets.
Where are you going to get the chicks or started pullets from? A feed store, hatchery, breeder, or a farm?
Feed stores generally have chicks certain months of the year, although there are a few that carry them year round. Feed stores usually carry assorted bantams sold unsexed as well as supposedly sexed production breed pullets. Unfortunately it seems that many feed stores mislabel the chicks that they are selling and as a result aren’t the best option if there is a breed you must have. Feed stores generally require a chick purchase of 2-6 chicks. Hatcheries also require you to purchase a minimum number of chicks for your order. The amount of chicks can vary from as little as 3 to as many as 25 chicks. Beware that some hatcheries will send male chicks with your order for added warmth if you have not reached the required chick minimum! Chick hatcheries offer a large selection of different chicken breeds and varieties. Hatcheries sell their day old chicks as either pullets (girl chicks), cockerels (boy chicks), or straight run (unsexed). If you decide to buy day old chicks take care to select for pullets if that’s what you want. Even when you pay for pullets there is a slight chance you may end up with a cockerel (Go ahead, ask me how I know ).
Almost all hatcheries offer marek’s vaccinations for day old chicks, so if that is something you would like make sure to ask the hatchery about it. Some hatcheries sell started pullets, but they are only sold certain times of the year and breed selection is quite small compared to the day old chick selection of available breeds. On the bright side most hatcheries will ship as few as 2 started pullets so if you want to expand your flock by only a handful of birds you can.
Light Brahmas from mypetchicken.com
Some breeders specialize in one or two breeds or varieties and some breeders have multiple breeds and varieties for you to choose from.
Black Breasted Red Araucana pullets from Ann Charles of SkyBlueEggs. These girls were not cheap, but well worth the money for such a unique and amazing breed!
A farm is a great place to find started pullets for your flock. Most farms will have many chickens for you to choose from. There will be production breeds, heritage breeds, large fowl, bantams, and maybe even some mixed breed chickens for you to choose from.
Feed is another thing to consider when you are deciding if you should get started pullets or day old chicks. Chicks will need medicated starter feed until they are about 8 weeks of age and then they need to be switched to a grower feed until they are 16-18 weeks old and then they need to be fed a layer feed. Started pullets are usually 16-18 weeks of age and can be put on layer feed as soon as you acquire them. Another option is to feed an all flock type feed which eliminates the feed transition problems and cockerels/cocks getting too much calcium, but that’s for another time.
Depending on the time of year you purchase your chicks you may have to house them inside for a couple of weeks until they are feathered enough to handle outside temperatures. Started pullets that have not been floor raised (raised in large warehouses) should be good to go straight into their new home as long as they are sufficiently feathered.
Whether you choose chicks or started pullets your journey into chicken keeping will be a great one!
I hope you enjoyed my article, here are some pictures of my flock
Edited for errors.
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