When to get new chicks?


5 Years
May 13, 2014
I think I've finally settled on a high quality coop / run by a local builder but fall is here and soon after, winter. What are my options at this point if I'm looking for a November start? Pullets or full grown birds? I live in MD so the temps are starting to drop at night.
Mature pullets or young hens are you best choice at this time…too much risk in raising chicks and moving to coop in cold. Would try to get chickens locally, so they are already acclimated to your weather.
Your options are wide open. Many of us brood chicks outside in the winter, but it is harder and riskier. It’s a lot easier for things to go wrong, like maybe a power outage or a heat source failing. If you can stand to have them inside with the dust, noise, and potential smell time of year doesn’t really matter. You will need to keep them inside an extra week or two until they fully feather out unless you provide a heat source for them in the coop.

To brood baby chicks you need food, water, protection from predators, protection from the environment, and almost always a heat source. If you can provide that you can brood chicks. My brooder is in the coop, but it is fairly large, 3’ x 6’. I heat one end and let the rest cool off, though in winter I wrap it to keep a bigger area warm but still give some ventilation. Last February there was sometimes frost in the far end when the chicks were in there, but the end they were on was warm and the food and water was down there. After they got a little age on them they started going into the cold end during the day when it was warmer but not at night. Being exposed to the cold helped them feather out faster and got them acclimated to the cold. I turned the heat source off about 6 weeks since it was still getting below freezing most nights and it was handy to keep it on.

I don’t have a set time to turn the heat off. During a record-setting heat wave a few years back I turned the daytime heat off at 2 days and the overnight heat off at 5 days. That shows you how much easier it is during warmer weather. I do think it is important to acclimate them and feed them a high protein feed to help them feather out faster.

If you have a strong urge to raise baby chicks you can, maybe even in your new coop, but it is a lot more work, more worry, and riskier. You will probably be better off going with older birds.
You will want full grown! Chicks need a brooder lamp which means indoors. Brooder lights are a fire risk if kept in a coop.
If I were you I would wait till spring. I too am really excited to get some chicks to add to my family But it will be so much more relaxing and enjoyable in the spring, that is if you want to get babies. Love, love seeing their little personalities come out. Watching them grow and just the whole process. They can be a little bit of work, but in my opinion well worth it. Kat

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