Getting Started Raising Chickens: Should I Buy Chicks or Juvenile Birds?
Raising chickens has become an increasingly popular choice for many families, with fresh eggs every day being the main draw. If you’re considering getting started raising chickens, one of the most important decisions to make is whether you’ll buy chicks or juvenile chickens, also called started pullets. Both choices have their own pros and cons, which you should check out before you decide.
Pros and Cons of Day-old Chicks
Buying day-old chicks can be an appealing option. After all, baby chicks are just plain cute, and the prospect of raising chickens practically from birth is nice. Since you’ll be the only humans they know, they’ll be comfortable with your family, and you’ll get to see their personalities develop over time.
Of course, there are some disadvantages of having baby chickens around the house. For example, most people get their baby chicks by ordering them online. This might sound simple enough, but baby chicks actually sell out fast, so there may be a waiting period. If you manage to get some, you’ll have to arrange to be at the post office as soon as they’re set to arrive, making the shipping process difficult.
Once you get your baby chicks, you’ll find they’re harder to care for than older chickens. When they’re tiny, they need to stay indoors. Unless you have a shed on your property, you’ll have to keep them in your house for the first few weeks of their life, which means you’ll have to prepare for a bit of a mess.
As you get ready to raise baby chicks, you’ll need to make sure you have the right gear to raise them. This often includes a plastic tub to keep them in, proper bedding and a heat lamp. And after all this extra work and attention you’ll need to give your day-old chicks, you’ll need to wait about six months to get any payoff, since they won’t lay eggs until then. So if you’re considering buying day-old chicks, make sure you’re prepared to buy the right equipment and then be patient, because your only payoff for a while will be the enjoyment you get from watching adorable chicks grow into chickens.
Pros and Cons of Started Pullets
Hens that are between 15 weeks and 22 weeks old are called started pullets. If you’re eager for eggs from your backyard chickens, started pullets may be right for you, since most hens start laying eggs around this age. This means there’s not much of a waiting period before you see the benefits of owning chickens. And since they no longer need a lot of your attention or equipment like heating lamps, started pullets can be easier to own than tiny chicks.
While you won’t have to buy as much equipment to raise started pullets, you probably won’t save much money in the long run. After all, hens cost more than baby chicks, and they’re also more expensive to ship if you’re able to complete the difficult task of finding some online.
In addition, your chickens will need some time to get used to you and their new environment, since you didn’t raise them as chicks. In fact, it’s hard to be sure of their actual age, since many people have trouble telling how old chickens are. For this reason, they might just estimate the age before selling them to you.
Then there’s also the fact that started pullets just aren’t as cute and fluffy as baby chicks. This might not be a practical point, but it’s one to consider if you like the idea of cuddling tiny baby chickens, which many people do!
The good news is you can avoid some of these disadvantages by buying chickens from a reputable hatchery or farm. This way, you’re more likely to end up with the healthy, lovable hens you want around the age you’re looking for as you prepare to raise backyard chickens. The sooner you make your decision, the sooner you can get started raising chickens!