Monday, September 23, 2013
It's chick time!
Yep! Although most people get new chicks in the spring, I prefer getting my future layers in September or early October. Why?
Most breeds of chickens don't start laying until five or six months of age. If you get chicks hatched in spring, they start laying a few small eggs just as the days start getting shorter. Although they might continue to lay a few eggs through the winter, the number of eggs you will get the first year is a lot less than if you had pullets that were hatched in fall. When chicks are hatched in fall, they will reach laying age in the spring as the days are getting longer and older chickens naturally start laying again after their winter holiday.
In Illinois, we really can't have chicks shipped to us any earlier than March unless we are prepared to deal with a fairly high mortality rate because it is simply too cold for their survival to be ensured. In March and April, the weather for shipping is questionable, especially since chicks usually have to be ordered far enough ahead of time that you won't know what the weather will be like when they are shipped. So, I prefer fall chicks because it's warm when the chicks are shipped, which means we usually have zero losses in shipping.
Caring for chicks is also easier in September. We can simply hang a heat lamp in the barn stall, and the chicks will happily wander all over the stall. In spring, we have to use our big brooder to trap the heat for the chicks. The chicks grow feathers in the fall as the days grow colder.
So, if you think that you have to wait until spring to get started with your backyard flock, you might be able to get them sooner, depending upon where you live.
This post was shared at Clever Chick's Blog Hop.