Now I'm Not Sure: Buy Chicks Or Pullets

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Uncle Marc, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. Uncle Marc

    Uncle Marc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 12, 2011
    Poplar Grove Kentucky
    Okay, I built a brooder box and am working on the coop. But the coop won't be done until at least January. So I'm beginning to wonder if I should get chicks or buy pullets.

    With chicks I will have control over them from hatching and so I can reach for the "organic egg" certification, but then I have to build a smaller area into my coop since my box isn't big enough to hold 20 chicks much past a couple of weeks. That means I have to plan on a heat source out in the coop for a month or so and will have to tend to them out by the barn instead of in the garage as I had planned (but not planned so well as to build a big enough brooder).

    Also, with chicks I will have a couple of months longer waiting time before they start laying.

    With pullets I can buy them when the coop is finished, move them right into the coop, avoid the brooder and heat source issues and that means I can have eggs beginning in May instead of July.

    I plan to do business with Mt. Healthy hatchery (it's close to home) and their website says they offer both chick and pullets. We are going with a flock of barred rocks.

  2. citychickx6

    citychickx6 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    The heat lamp should work in the coop for you to be able to raise them there. How cold is Feb for you?
    Chicks are less money invested than pullets. I did mine both ways and will only buy chicks in the future. Sure they are a little more work but it pays off in knowing that the chicks are fed what you want them to be fed and wormed when you want them or need them to be. My chick purchased birds are a stronger bird IMO. My pullet purchased birds have had weight issues and trouble getting used to the coop and I think it delayed them a bit in egglaying.
  3. BrokenRoadFarm

    BrokenRoadFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 10, 2011
    North Central NC
    We started with four 8-week old pullets. I would love to have some day-old chicks, but we have 2 large dogs and 3 cats indoors...can you say chicken nuggets?!?! [​IMG] Starting with pullets has worked well. They were already feathered out and went right into the coop - no brooder, no heat lamp (we got them in May). Guess it depends on how much work you want to do [​IMG]
  4. wyododge

    wyododge Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 30, 2011
    Seems as though what you need to decide is how important the 'organic certification' is. Yes - chicks, no - pullets. Personally this time of year, I would do pullets.
  5. ronniewayne

    ronniewayne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2011
    i would always do the chicks...i love to raise know exactly what they have eaten and been exposed to thier whole life..if you wanted your organic certification 2 months would seem short...of course building coops can be time consuming..good luck with them...
  6. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Chicks, definitely. I always get day-old, started pullets. I end up with an unexpected roo every now and again, but the chicks are so much easier to train and bond with than older pullets.

    I also don't know where you are planning to get your pullets, but most pullets that are older and come from large hatcheries or feed stores come to you de-beaked. I went to my local feed store and found that they had a huge order of older POL pullets for sale. I was aghast when I realized that all the birds had docked beaks!! Nearly a hundred birds. All deliberately deformed. I questioned the staff at the store about it and they told me it was standard when purchasing older birds that they would come de-beaked. I had no idea this was a standard practice. And since I have very strong feelings against de-beaking birds I would never order POL pullets from a commercial source without ensuring that this barbaric practice was not performed on them.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    When they say pullets, they mean day old sexed chicks, not older, point of lay pullets. So, that will make a difference in your choice, too.

    There are several hatcheries that will sell started birds, but they're usually sex link hybrids. All the ones I've seen offered for sale from hatcheries are debeaked, because they're raised in close quarters and it keeps them from killing each other. It's really expensive to have started birds shipped, compared to the price of shipping chicks, too.

    If you want started birds that are of one of the other breeds, you usually have to get them from an individual.

    I agree that if organic certification is important to you, chicks are the only way to go, unless you can find someone locally that raises their chickens organically. They have to be fed and raised organically from the time they hatch, to get the certification.

    A brooder only has to be a draft shield and a heat lamp, with some wood shavings or whatever else you're using for litter in the bottom. Some garden netting over the top to keep them in as they get older is good, too. If your brooder is too small, you could just add on to it. Plenty of people have duct taped additional cardboard boxes to their original brooder, to expand it. Your chicks would still appreciate the work you did on the original. Just add on to it later and they'll have more space.

    The easiest way to brood is in their coop, if you can do that. It keeps all the dust out there. You can always start somewhere else and finish in the coop, too. It all works. I've done both. Or started in the house, moved to a grow-out tractor and later to a coop.
  8. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Two things: First of all, will the hatchery trim the beaks? Often hatcheries trim the upper beak of the pullets routinely, so you may have this flock of barred rocks with disfigured beaks. (I personally don't like that at all.)

    The second thing is, how much do you want to interact with your flock? Raising chicks is very rewarding and they can become quite friendly and attached to you and your wife. I find that to be quite pleasant, rather than having the spooky pullets running from you....

    Just something to think about,

  9. Hawkeye95

    Hawkeye95 Chillin' With My Peeps

    You have no coop.. perhaps waiting a few more weeks to order your chicks will work out better? A brooder doesn't have to be expensive. I use the clear plastic storage tubs at Walmart. I just put wire over the top, a heat lamp and done! I keep them in my garage- so they are protected from the weather and predators, and aren't in my house. You may need a couple storage bins to fit all your birds in...I got 12 chicks in a very long tub quite easily with plenty of room. But they were tiny. Now, they are too big for it, but are out in my horse stall for a couple more days until I finish the roosts in my coop. Even at that, my chicks are still on the small side (6 weeks), so I'm going to put them in the coop here in the next day or two, but they'll have a heat lamp to get under. I just don't know if I would trust the quality/health of older birds unless you really know that breeder well. My chicks know me and are great about being handled and picked up because we've been very attentive to them. That will really come in handy if they ever get sick or need handled for care. This way, you also know what they've been exposed to when you get them as day old chicks.

    BTW-- you said you want barred rocks?? I think that is GREAT! I have two of them and they are the most friendly out of all of my birds (except my silkies). They come up to us, pick at our shoes and wait to be picked up! Very sweet birds, you won't regret getting them. They are also bigger and heavier than my others-- even my Wyandottes. If I were to do it all over again, I'd just get barred rocks only and leave it at that. [​IMG] (except for my silkies and polish-- but I'm talking about LAYING hens) [​IMG]
  10. SA newbie

    SA newbie Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 12, 2011
    In September I bought 23 pullets (12wk) and 100 straight run day olds. The day olds are now 8 wks and thriving with no problem except being naughty! Have already lost 4 of the pullets to disease and will never again buy pullets. A breeder that I'm getting 100 RIR and BA chicks from later this week said never to buy pullets- you don't know what they have been fed and what diseases they carrying and I agree with him. We kept our chicks in a large freezer cardboard box for the first 2 weeks, the in their tractor in the garage for 2 weeks and then on pasture since. Once they reach POL they will be introduced to their orchard tree roosting pals to free range. They refuse to go into the coop and fly up into the fruit trees where we can't get them! If they could laugh and say "catch me if you can!" They would! Anyhow I would go for day olds without a doubt!

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