Chicks or pullets?

RIR chicks

Songster
Sep 28, 2020
218
684
123
Which is better? We are gearing Rhode Island Reds and we have never raised chickens. We might get chicks or we might get pullets. Which should we get. Does anyone know the pros and cons?

PS those chicks aren’t mine.
 

lysmandor

Songster
Mar 26, 2020
142
218
111
Lansing, NY
Pullets:
pros - less time till they lay eggs
cons - may be less tame or attached to you (since you didn't raise them from chicks), so may be more skittish. May come with illness or parasites, depending where you source them from.

Chicks:
cons - a long time until they're ready to lay. Need to be in a brooder and take more time/attention/care until they're grown up (baby animals take more time than adult animals!) Possibility of sexing errors (your girls might turn out to be boys). Perhaps may be more likely to pass away or become ill - baby animals are more fragile than older animals.
Pros - Chicks are adorable! And you can watch them grow and bond with them more. Are less likely to carry diseases/parasites (if coming directly from a reputable hatchery)
 

RIR chicks

Songster
Sep 28, 2020
218
684
123
What about the costs? The pullets cost more, is it worth the money? Is chicks worth the time and care if it may just turn into a loss?
 

OneHappyRooster

Free Ranging
Apr 5, 2020
5,655
11,359
566
Orpington-Land
For your situation, started pullets.
For a first time chicken keeper, it's best to start with older birds.
And you'll be able to know you're getting females.
 

lysmandor

Songster
Mar 26, 2020
142
218
111
Lansing, NY
Pullets will cost more up front, whether that's from a local farm/breeder or from a hatchery- and if you order pullets from a hatchery they cost way more to ship.
 

lysmandor

Songster
Mar 26, 2020
142
218
111
Lansing, NY
I'd actually disagree! I started with chicks and really enjoyed the experience - later we got some started pullets and they are much less friendly, so I'm glad we started with chicks.

We were lucky and didn't lose any chicks - that said, do your research, make sure you have enough time to check on them multiple times a day and clean out the brooder, that you're okay having them indoors for several weeks, etc.

But if you live in a place where you CANNOT keep roosters, and really don't want to deal with the possibility of accidental roos - started pullets are more of a sure bet.

The difference in cost between chicks and pullets is pretty substantial - usually chicks are $4 per chick or around that, and pullets are closer to $25 per bird. Those prices are without shipping.
 

OneHappyRooster

Free Ranging
Apr 5, 2020
5,655
11,359
566
Orpington-Land
I'd actually disagree! I started with chicks and really enjoyed the experience - later we got some started pullets and they are much less friendly, so I'm glad we started with chicks.

We were lucky and didn't lose any chicks - that said, do your research, make sure you have enough time to check on them multiple times a day and clean out the brooder, that you're okay having them indoors for several weeks, etc.

But if you live in a place where you CANNOT keep roosters, and really don't want to deal with the possibility of accidental roos - started pullets are more of a sure bet.

The difference in cost between chicks and pullets is pretty substantial - usually chicks are $4 per chick or around that, and pullets are closer to $25 per bird. Those prices are without shipping.
I don't know what it converts to, but I can get started pullets for about €10-15. Depends on the breeds. Last time I bought chicks they were €5 per bird. Low quality ones, too. Unsexed.
I started with pullets and got chicks the next year. By that time I knew what I was dealing with a bit more.
If I had lost any chicks (which is not uncommon) I would have lost heart completely.
 

lysmandor

Songster
Mar 26, 2020
142
218
111
Lansing, NY
I don't know what it converts to, but I can get started pullets for about €10-15. Depends on the breeds. Last time I bought chicks they were €5 per bird. Low quality ones, too. Unsexed.
I started with pullets and got chicks the next year. By that time I knew what I was dealing with a bit more.
If I had lost any chicks (which is not uncommon) I would have lost heart completely.
That is fair! I think it depends what you're going for with your chicken keeping - we were primarily raising for pets, rather than maximum egg production, so getting to know their personalities and having them be very friendly is important to me. I was okay waiting a long time for eggs, and I did a lot of research about how I would set up my brooder, what I would feed, signs of illness to watch for, etc to maximize my chances of success. I also knew that there was a possibility I could lose a chick, and was okay with that ahead of time. We ended up with 2 roosters out of 4 sexed females (argggghhh!) but we knew that was a possibility going in and had a plan to deal with it. I loved having the experience of having tiny adorable peeping fluffs, and watching them learn to eat, drink, run around...

If your goals are minimal drama, keeping chickens for eggs, and you want to get them outside in the coop right away - then pullets make complete sense.
 

OneHappyRooster

Free Ranging
Apr 5, 2020
5,655
11,359
566
Orpington-Land
That is fair! I think it depends what you're going for with your chicken keeping - we were primarily raising for pets, rather than maximum egg production, so getting to know their personalities and having them be very friendly is important to me. I was okay waiting a long time for eggs, and I did a lot of research about how I would set up my brooder, what I would feed, signs of illness to watch for, etc to maximize my chances of success. I also knew that there was a possibility I could lose a chick, and was okay with that ahead of time. We ended up with 2 roosters out of 4 sexed females (argggghhh!) but we knew that was a possibility going in and had a plan to deal with it. I loved having the experience of having tiny adorable peeping fluffs, and watching them learn to eat, drink, run around...

If your goals are minimal drama, keeping chickens for eggs, and you want to get them outside in the coop right away - then pullets make complete sense.
Ours are pets too.
I was still very young when I got my first birds. And I'm very soft.
Hadn't had to deal with any deaths before either. A chick dying would have torn me up.
We didn't mind about the eggs - although they were definitely exciting!
It really depends on what OP wants.
Tough dealing with the cockerels. Thankfully we went to someone who gave us females. We wouldn't have known the difference.
 

Allthefloofs

Songster
Sep 16, 2020
205
530
126
Scottsdale, AZ
I'd actually disagree! I started with chicks and really enjoyed the experience - later we got some started pullets and they are much less friendly, so I'm glad we started with chicks.

We were lucky and didn't lose any chicks - that said, do your research, make sure you have enough time to check on them multiple times a day and clean out the brooder, that you're okay having them indoors for several weeks, etc.

But if you live in a place where you CANNOT keep roosters, and really don't want to deal with the possibility of accidental roos - started pullets are more of a sure bet.

The difference in cost between chicks and pullets is pretty substantial - usually chicks are $4 per chick or around that, and pullets are closer to $25 per bird. Those prices are without shipping.
I pretty much agree with this :). We started with chicks, but a small number to "cut our teeth" on instead of a huge order. We have started pullets and they are definitely not as bonded to us as the pullets. That being said it is a matter of degrees, the started pullets are friendly, not aggressive in any way, but our girls we raised from chicks are lap chickens, so I guess it depends on what you want. I you want girls that are okay with being around you, happy even, but don't like to be picked up or handled but lay eggs then started pullets should be great. Murray McMurray has ones that are close to point of lay, that is where we got our Delaware and Buff Orp. They came in at about 17 weeks and they laid in about 5 weeks after we got them. They were hardly any work, the only work we had was flock integration, which you wouldn't have much of in your case.

I like that when I need to worm our girls the ones we raised from chicks will just hop up on my lap for a cuddle and I just dose them as they do it. The Starter Girls I have to act casual and then pick them up when they least expect it.

I will say I did a lot of reading before we ordered chicks. I had everything ready for them coming, and read a ton of stuff on this very site to be prepared so it was more work for sure. The clean up and maintenance for chicks is much more intense and the more you order at once the more you have to pay attention, so factor that in.
Good luck on your chicken keeping journey! I don't know if there is a "wrong" choice for you here. You could always do started pullets first and chicks another time, no stopping that from happening. We were all over the map. 3 chicks, tried hatching, but were not really successful, two started pullets, 3 more chicks, 6 more chicks 🤪.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom