Starting with chicks vs. 6 month pullets - pros and cons

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by shopchicks, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. shopchicks

    shopchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    261
    0
    119
    Sep 4, 2009
    Boise, Idaho
    Hi, I am getting ready to start with my first chickens [​IMG]

    I was planning to order some chicks from My Pet Chicken, but I only need about 5, and my coworker is being wishy-washy on splitting an order with me. I could sell the extras, but will probably end up losing money on that venture by the time I feed and raise them. However, I like the idea of handling the chicks so that they grow up to be very friendly.

    There is a local place advertising on Craigslist that raises chickens and sells a variety of breeds of pullets at about 20 weeks. Obviously the advantages are that 1) I know I'm getting pullets 2) don't have to worry about issues with delivery of the chicks 3) start getting eggs right away 4) don't have to set up a brooder.

    I am leaning towards buying 3 pullets from this place, and then getting some chicks to raise in the fall to add to the flock. I am guessing that since the place the sells the pullets raises hundreds of birds, that they're used to human presence, but not used to individual handling. At 6 months, are they likely to adapt to being more tame? Are there any other drawbacks to getting these young hens instead of chicks?
     
  2. momreda

    momreda Chillin' With My Peeps

    255
    1
    119
    Aug 31, 2009
    Cumberland Furnace, TN
    I would do both but only because it sounds like you want them to be pets. Otherwise, I would go with the egg laying pullets. JMHO
     
  3. JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom

    JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    937
    4
    131
    Jun 17, 2009
    West Central WI
    We raised our chicks on pasture and they were only handled when caught to move to another pen.

    Winter came and required moving into a pole shed and a lot more interaction, with treats and getting held, and encouragement to fly up onto a back or lap.

    Several have tamed down very nicely, after 20 weeks as wild heathen pastured young life. Some have stayed aloof, but are not deathly afraid of us any more. It comes down to individual bird personlity. Some chickens like people. Others do not and never will.

    I think you have an excellent chance of taming started pullets into more pet-like behavior. Especially with meal worms or leftover spaghetti.
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    7,544
    176
    316
    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Would it be possible to get chicks from this local person? If they are raising them to sell POL pullets, chances are they also have (or will have) chicks, if you are leaning towards getting them. As for pros and cons. Chicks will be cheaper to purchase than pullets. But of course by the time the chicks are 6 months old, you will have about the same amount into them with feed. Chicks are cute. If you have kids, they will LOVE having the chicks and watching them grow up. However with chicks you will have to wait 5-6 months for eggs, depending on breed. My BO's each laid their first at around 5 1/2 months. I just brought in my RIR's very first pullet egg - she will be 5 months old tomorrow. If you get the pullets, you will still have to wait up to a month for eggs (they usually have an adjustment period during with they don't lay). With chicks you can get them used to being handled from the get go. With the pullets, they will probably never be quite as handleable. Keep in mind that integration is not always easy. It can be done but takes time. So getting pullets now and adding chicks later will be doable but not necessarily easy. Good luck - whichever way you decide to go, you'll enjoy them!
     
  5. shopchicks

    shopchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    261
    0
    119
    Sep 4, 2009
    Boise, Idaho
    Thanks for the feedback! We don't have kids, but the cuteness of chicks is definitely attractive to me, too. Far as I can tell, the place that sells the pullets only sells chicks as straight-run, and I really don't want to deal with getting rid of roos (we're on a 1/2 acre residential neighborhood). I'm sure I'll have to deal with flock integration sooner or later as I add replacement hens. I would love to buy chicks locally, but it's hard to get a nice mix of breeds without lots of running around and buying a chick here and a chick there. This is a tough decision!
     
  6. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    7,544
    176
    316
    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Yes, I see what you mean. I initially ordered from MPC (small order of 4 meaning I had to pay the higher shipping cost) for the same reason - that they sexed them as being all pullets. A week or two later I noticed a local gal selling straight run chicks for $2 apiece. I was really torn between sticking with the original order (for which I had to wait 8 weeks) or getting the immediate gratification of getting the local chicks, but running the risk of ending up with roos. So what did I do? Got both of course! [​IMG] I got the straight run, planning to cancel the MPC order but when I learned there was a $10 cancellation fee, I let that order be delivered too. Of the straight run, I got 4 roosters, 3 hens. I also live in a residential neighborhood and roosters aren't allowed, so I learned how to process and we ate the roos. I realize that's not for everyone - its just the choice we made. I have been really happy with both sets of chicks, (mine were all chicks, which makes it different from your situation). By the time my MPC order arrived, the original chicks were 9-13 weeks old (I got some at 1-month and some at 1-week of age). While the little girls were inside in the brooder for the first 4 weeks, the older birds had the run of the backyard and we did have to spend time integrating. That was fine insofar as there was no fighting but there wasn't really true integration for 3 months. Initially, each flock ran separately in the backyard. I had multiple feeder/waterers set up so the big chooks couldn't keep the little girls from getting food/water and they all slept in the coop at night. Other than that, they didn't integrate until we processed the roos. By then the little girls were getting close in size to the big girls, and the big girls decided that in the absence of the roos there was safety in numbers so....since then we've had just the one flock. The nice thing about our situation is that because we had multiple ages, we've had multiple starts at egg-laying too. My oldest BO hen started at the beginning of the year, the next oldest about a month ago and today I got the first egg from one of the "little girls" with a second showing a lot of interest in the nest box. But I digress. If you are certain you don't want roos, then I think your best bet may be to get the POL pullets. However if you can get chicks that are 3-5 weeks old, you may be able to get the best of both worlds - the cuteness of chicks with some degree of confidence you are getting pullets. If you spend some time on the "What breed/gender is this" forum, you will get an idea of how to tell the difference between girls/boys by comb size and can try to select all girls.
     
  7. shopchicks

    shopchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    261
    0
    119
    Sep 4, 2009
    Boise, Idaho
    Great information. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences!
     
  8. Manok-Tao

    Manok-Tao Chillin' With My Peeps

    295
    7
    121
    Jan 6, 2010
    W-S NC
    I've gone with the starter pullets twice. Two years ago I got 5 RSL's that were 19 weeks old. They were laying after being here for 2 weeks. they were VERY friendly and became like the rest of the 'pets" we have running around here. I let them go (to a friend) as my coop situation didn't merit the birds wintering in it. I just finished a new coop (see my page) and moved in 8 17 week old pullets yesterday. After two days they are settled in for the most part and there is no doubt in my mind that they will be just as freindly. We all interact with them alot so that makes a big differnce. hopefully one day i can start a group from chicks or eggs, at present the work schedules of everyone here doesn't allow for it.

    Whichever couse you choose I'm sure you'll do well..

    My new pullets
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. shopchicks

    shopchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    261
    0
    119
    Sep 4, 2009
    Boise, Idaho
    Manok, that is a nice flock you've got there. I'm glad they're doing well for you!

    I can be so dense sometimes. I completely forgot that Dunlap Hatchery is right down the road from me and I should be able to buy a variety of pullet chicks directly from them. So, I THINK I am going to go with that. My husband is not too excited about the idea of chickens though, so I'm trying to decide whether chicky cuteness or fresh eggs are more likely to win him over.
     
  10. united

    united Out Of The Brooder

    52
    0
    39
    Feb 19, 2010
    Hi . I just bought 15 (5 months old) rhodes as free range. I was thinking of buying a pair of Appenzellers and a pair of sicilian buttercups. what will be the results( will they all mixed)? how can i keep these 2 breeds pure? Sorry about my english.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by