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Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Veatch81, Oct 6, 2016.
I'm from south central Indiana. Is fall a bad time to get chicks? Would they do alright in the cold?
Some of us hatch and raise chicks any time of the year. My brooder is outside in the coop, I put chicks in it straight from the incubator even if the outside temperature is below freezing as long as the brooder itself is warm. So the short answer is that you can raise chicks any time of the year as long as you provide food, water, predator protection, and the proper environment. My chicks are ready to handle freezing temperatures without heat at 5 to 6 weeks of age but I raise them to be ready by letting them experience cold temperatures as well as warm. If you brood in the house that’s harder to do.
Many people prefer to raise them in the warmer months. It’s just easier, you don’t have to worry about the cold. You have more margin for error. An incident in the dead of winter might prove deadly while in warmer weather nobody would even notice. I don’t know what the right answer is for you.
I agree with ridgerunner. I raise my chicks right outside in the coop so they are able to get used to the outside temps. I am raising a group right now and am using a heating pad instead of a heat lamp after reading about it here. They are about 12 days old and are doing great.
If you are in an area that routinely loses power in fall/early winter then there is increased risk to the chicks, although this can be compensated for (for example, hot water bottles, chemical handwarmers, backup generators, etc.). I got a shipment of chicks in this week and will be getting another the week of the 17th. I declined a shipment for mid-November though.
You need to go read Blooie's thread on Mama Heating Pad for the Brooder. She brooded chicks outdoors in her run in sub-freezing temps and the chicks did splendidly. Some of us live in regions where the spring temps are more brutal than fall and early winter.
I had chicks under the heating pad system outdoors in my run when the lows were in the 30s and the highs weren't over 50F. The chicks didn't even notice they weren't in a 100 degree brooder box. They were having way too much fun running all over the large pen they had all to themselves in the run with adult chickens looking on as they developed.
Chicks brooded outdoors are so much better off. They don't suffer as often from pasty butt and overheating and overcrowding. They are hardening against the cold from day one, and they feather out much sooner than indoor brooded chicks.
Don't worry about them. They can handle it!
Yes, fall is a bad time to get chicks. Late hatched chicks do not grow as big as spring hatched chicks. They also won't be good winter layers. You want Spring hatched chicks for that. (Feb.. march, April). All this said, it is a great time to pick up "started birds". These are birds which were Spring hatched Now the breeder is downsizing for overwintering and they will have nice started stock available. Birds which they have carefully raised all year and for some reason have not quite become what the breeder as looking for in the show time or breeding program. Maybe the color is a bit off for the poultry shows. The comb a bit too big or too small. Maybe the egg color the bird is laying is a bit too light. In any case, started birds ( 12 weeks or older) are a great way to get started in poultry. They have been checked several times for quality. The breeder knows all of their minor failings and can tell you about them. They have been carefully raised to reach their potential.
The big plus here is that started birds put you back on track to hatch eggs with the rest of us next Spring. Redeeming time lost by not getting them in the Spring. Yes, they will cost a little more. But the increased cost is what you would have spent to raise them yourself anyway.
So forget the chicks, get some started birds, enjoy eggs this winter, and hatch eggs with us this next Spring.
Karen in western PA, USA
It depends. If this is your first experience with chicks, I suggest you wait till spring. And if you are having them shipped to you, wait till the temps settle a bit so you won't be facing shipping loss. If you've had chicks before, you KNOW how much risk and extra work is acceptable to you to brood in the fall. Either way, I strongly suggest that you have your coop completed, electricity available in the coop, and you brood them outdoors in the coop with a heating pad brooder system.
Where can you usually find started birds?
My suggestion is to find your state thread like this one
and chat with your neighbors. They may have birds that can help you or give you some local ideas.
Pick your breed. Then contact the national Club for that breed. Look for their website. Most have one.
Most club's have pictures and stats on their national poultry show. Take a look at the birds. Pick the color you like and see who is winning with that color. Now look them up in the Breeder's directory on that Club website. Give them a call and tell them you are looking for some real nice quality birds. Make sure you are ready for the birds so you can tell the breeder you have coop, etc. all ready to go. Helps if you read a book or several articles on the breed before you contact the breeder so you can answer any breed specific questions the breeder has.
Which breed are you interested in? maybe I can help you find a breeder near you?
Karen in western PA, USA