Chicks, Pullets, or Hens? Getting Started

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ApplestoApples, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. ApplestoApples

    ApplestoApples Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 19, 2012
    East Tenessee
    I am in the planning phase of getting chickens. I have to decide whether to start with chicks, pullets, or young hens. My original idea was to start with chicks, but CANNOT have roosters and now that chicks can be a handful and some may die, I am not so sure. This is my first time and I cant decide.

    ( P.S. This is probably not the right place to put this thread, if it is in the wrong section please move it.)
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Do you have a means to get rid of roosters? Either to eat the cockerels or give away for free via Craigslist? If you can get rid of any unwanted roosters then I'd definitely start with chicks. Also if you purchase from a hatchery your chances of males are very low if you specify only pullets.

    Handling and becoming accustom to one another is fun and rewarding. Nothing like having hens that come when you call their names or become lap chickens. That really only happens if you raise them from chicks. One of the easiest pets to care for, the biggest thing is getting a coop and run ready for them for after the brooding period.
  3. ApplestoApples

    ApplestoApples Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 19, 2012
    East Tenessee
    I didnt think of putting them on craigslist, I guess I could get extra chicks and sell the roosters and if any extras.
  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Well you could start with ready to lay BUT they aren't used to you, unless you can get birds that have been tamed by someone beforehand, you'll have a more difficult time.

    I started with sexed chicks that way we got used to one another from the get-go. Personally, i found chicks to be pretty straightforward to raise well in comparison to ducks which are way messier lol
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  5. Eggsoteric

    Eggsoteric Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 25, 2010
    When I ventured into the chicken world, I ordered 4 started Red Star pullets from a hatchery (they were 14 weeks old when I received them). I now have 26 chickens, including 3 of the original Red Stars. Those 3 original girls are some of my friendliest chickens. I lost my favorite hen out of that bunch this past summer to cancer. Betty loved attention and would often jump in my lap or on my arm and chat up a storm.
  6. ApplestoApples

    ApplestoApples Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 19, 2012
    East Tenessee
    Thanks I thinking about chicks.
  7. cazzzyboy

    cazzzyboy Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 6, 2011
    i agree with getting chicks. that way they will be friendliest!! all are good but the friendlier the more rewarding!!!
  8. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Get chicks. Just get sex linked hybrids for no chances of roosters :)

    Black or red sex links make great layers and are very friendly!
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I don’t know enough about your situation or goals to know what’s best for you. We are all so different in our set-up or even just in what we want from the chickens that there is no one answer that is right for all of us. There are so many different ways you can do this too that it’s more of choosing a way to do it rather than finding the absolute best possible way. There is no best possible way, just the way that works for you. Try not to stress too much about that part.

    I’m not a proponent in starting with grown hens. You really don’t know how old they are. Hens have a limited laying life. Each individual is an individual and can be different, but in general they lay really well their first season until they molt, stop laying when they molt and use that nutrition to make new feathers, and lay really well the season after their first adult molt. But after their second adult molt and each adult molt after that, their productivity tends to drop about 15%. For a couple of these molt cycles you will probably still get several really nice eggs, but when they get four or five years on them, they tend to lay a whole lot fewer eggs. About that age, the quality of the eggs can drop too. The main reason I suggest staying away from older hens is that there is a real possibility someone will try to dump their older non-productive hens on you.

    If you get Point-of-Lay (POL) pullets, these are maybe 16 to 18 weeks old. There is no set certain specific age a pullet will start laying. I’ve had some that started at 16 weeks. I’ve had some from the same hatch with the same parents that waited until after 28 weeks. By that time I had enough that were laying so I ate the late starters. I don’t know how long it would have taken for them to start. Hatchery chicks tend to start around 20 to 24 weeks of age, but some can be earlier and some can be later.

    The advantages of POL pullets are that you know by this time that they are pullets and not roosters. The tendency for young chicks to die seems to be greatly exaggerated on this forum, but maybe I just know how to raise them. Still death can occur so someone else has taken through their most vulnerable time frame. POL pullets cost more, but someone else has fed and watered them, provided heat and the facilities. They should cost more.

    One potential disadvantage depends on how friendly you want them to be. You can still train them but it takes more work. If they grow up being handled by you, they are much more likely to tolerate handling by you.

    If you get baby chicks, you need to provide a brooder and equipment and raise them. That costs money and takes up some time.

    If you raise them in your house, they can make a lot of dust, can possible smell, and make a lot of noise. They are handier to handle though so are more likely to be friendly. I raise mine in a brooder in the coop. I like to stay married to the same person I started with. If I tried raising chicks in the house, that would be a lot more difficult. As I said, we all have different circumstances.

    There are a lot of different ways to get baby chicks. Hatcheries can sex them and will guarantee a 90% success rate, which means you still might get a rooster or two to deal with. Many hatcheries have minimum numbers they will ship too. That’s so they can keep each other warm during shipping. You can also get sex links. These are chicks that it is pretty easy to tell the sex of the chick because of something unique in the sexes when they hatch, usually down color with the hatcheries we use, but there can be other techniques.

    One possible disadvantage to getting baby chicks is that some people really get attached to the roosters. That could be you or it could be your kids. Many people can handle that but some have problems. You are different from me. If you have kids, yours are different than mine were. I’m not going to assume that your emotions and attachments are exactly like mine.

    Many feed stores sell chicks, especially in the Spring. Each feed store is different, even if they ate part of the same national brand and have different people handling the chicks. Many people on this forum seem to think that a Tractor Supply in Kingsport will have exactly the same people and exactly the same management techniques and offer the exact same selection as a Tractor Supply in Alcoa and that just ain’t so. Still many feed stores offer what are supposed to be pullet bins for you to get chicks from. These are usually hatchery chicks so you get the same unknowns as you would get with hatchery chicks, plus you don’t know how well the employees at that specific feed store keep the chicks segregated between the bins. Feed stores are not a bad way to do it but there is an added element of the unknown.

    You can try to find someone local to get them from. This will work for POL pullets or baby chicks. You can look in the “Where am I? Where are you!” section in this forum. There are East Tennessee and Middle Tennessee threads on there. You should be able to find someone close on one of those that can help you.

    You can call your county extension agent of talk to the people at the feed store. They might know people in the area that can help you. You can find auctions and chicken swaps in your area. Try Craigslist. Lots of different options.

    This is too long already so I’ll quit. Hope you find something in here helpful. Good luck!
    2 people like this.
  10. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    You need to write a book! Geez Louise! Hope you're a fast typer. This one must have taken you quite some time.

    Like always, thoroughly enjoy your advice and posts. [​IMG]

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