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Chicks or Pullets? Which to Choose for Flock Expansion

So, chicken fever has hit hard, and you want to expand your flock? The hard part comes when you need to decide, are you going to get a batch of fresh baby chicks, or more mature started pullets? Which is best for you?

Every chicken keeper gets to this point, because chickens are just like potato chips, once you start you just can’t stop!

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When expanding your existing flock the big question is always chicks or pullets? Each comes with it's own benefits and drawbacks, but this post is sure to help you decide! #homesteading #homestead #backyardchickens #chickens #raisingchickens #poultry

When adding to a flock of laying hens, you have two choices:

Chicks or Pullets?

Will you start from scratch with some tiny adorable chicks, or will you take on the task of integrating a couple of pullets into your existing flock?

Chicks or pullets is a tough decision, and both options come with their benefits and drawbacks.

The choice really depends on your setup and your own personal preferences, but before you make that decision, educate yourself!

Chickens

The fun of having baby chicks is terrific, and if you have children, an excellent learning experience.

There are some factors to consider both good and bad when deciding to add to your flock with fluffy chicks.

Benefits of raising baby chicks:

1. Custom design your flock by raising baby chicks. You can have a few of one kind and a few of another because the availability is higher with baby chicks.

2. You can socialize your birds much better by handling them when they are young. Socialization cuts down on the number of problem birds you have in your flock later on.

3. You control what they eat and what medicines they have, unlike when you buy a pullet.

4. Fluffy chicken action is a real thing! I’m almost positive that your joy level increases by holding these wee ones, hearing them chirp, and watching them grow into fine feathered beauties.

Drawbacks of raising baby chicks:

1. The cost of raising them is higher than if you bought pullets. You must purchase a brooder box, special feed, heat source, and more. Find out all you need in Brooding Chicks the Easy Way: 5 Essential Supplies You’ll Need

2. Raising chicks requires a hefty amount of time. They are babies, after all. Keeping them safe and well requires being attentive to your little flock. 

3. The survival rate in raising chicks can be as low as 50%. These wee ones have problems navigating their surroundings and can drown in their water, have too little heat or too much heat, and are susceptible to disease. 

4. Even though you have more control over what breed you want for chicks, if your supplier sells them “unsexed,” your chance of getting a rooster is 50%.

5. It will take six months before your hens will lay eggs and even longer if you hit the fall and winter season before they lay. Then it may be as long as nine to ten months. That’s not a big deal to some, but if your main goal is to have eggs, it would be a factor for you to consider.

Pullets

There are a variety of types of pullets, but the primary definition of one is ten weeks and older who have developed their adult feathers. You can find these from a local farmer, animal sale, or sometimes the Classified ads. 

You can also buy started pullets which are 15-22 weeks old. They are ready to lay but are much tougher to socialize when they are that old.

Benefits of pullets

1. There is no additional funding needed to place a pullet in your flock. They don’t need a brooder box or supplemental heat and are ready to be assimilated right after quarantine.

2. Buying pullets assures that you have all hens and no roosters in your flock. 

3. It takes much less time to deal with pullets.

4. Egg-laying comes much quicker with a pullet; it could be as little as three months before they begin to lay.

Drawbacks of pullets

1. Socialization to you and the rest of your flock diminishes when you choose a pullet. The younger the chicken, the better chance you have to acclimate them to you.

2. Pullets do cost more than a baby chick, but you don’t have any additional costs.

3. When buying pullets, both the feeding history and environment exposed to is relatively an unknown. So there is a risk of putting them with your flock, it’s always best to keep them separate for a time: Introducing New Chickens to the Flock Step-By-Step.

4. Diseases are also a concern when buying pullets. Many pests and diseases may go undetected for a time, so purchasing your pullets from a reputable chicken owner is vital.

There are some of the benefits and drawbacks when adding either baby chicks or pullets to your flock. 

Let us know which you choose and why. We always love to hear from you!

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Elizabeth

Sunday 8th of April 2018

First time to have baby chickens need all info I can get!

Gale

Friday 19th of April 2019

We just raised our first set (9) baby chicks for their first 6 weeks. Bought our chicks from a feed store. We started raising ours inside our house in a large tote and had a 250 watt heat lamp above the tote to make sure they were plenty warm. We also bought the medicated chick feed for baby chicks with a plastic chick feeder and also a plastic water container for them to drink out of. they out grew the tote quickly though. Bit the bullet and spent $100.00 on a fairly large metal troft that cattle would probably normally drink out of. we put a bedding of sawdust pellets on the floor of the troft with their 250 watt heat lamp mounted in the middle above the troft. Key to if they getting enough heat is watching your chicks and if their piles up on top of each other cause their cold. Move heat lamp closer. Of course if their all moving away from the heat lamp their getting too hot, raise the heat lamp. Ideal the chicks are randomly around the outskirts of your heat lamp and maybe one or two directly under the lamp. Then your probably safe to leave the lamp at that heights. As they grow bigger they’ll require less heat and you’ll be able to raise the lamp a little at a time. I know not everyone wants to give their chicks the medication in their food, but we didn’t want to take any extra chances with them being babies. After the 6 weeks though we switch out chickens to non medicated chick feed. Oh, I almost forgot they also have to have a chicken grit as babies too and they still need the chicken grit even after the 6 weeks I was told too! We also got them some all purpose sand in 70 lbs bags and section off a part of the troft so the chicks could take a dust bath. Side note, if you’re raising your chicks inside your house as we did, plan on a lot of dust going everywhere in the house unless you seal off a small room to raise the chicks! Luckily our 2 robot vacuums kept the dust picked up pretty well at least on the floor! If you have a garage or shed you can heat enough to keep your chicks plenty warm I’d recommend that over inside your house. But you’ll want to always keep a close eye on your chicks making sure their alright and have their food and water full all times! For our first time raising chicks I feel it was a success so far, their now outside in a temporary coop, a modified dog run 8’x12’ that I added their troft to inside with the heat lamp so when the temps drop into the 40’s at night they have a nice warm area to go to! I also made them another temporary fenced off area around the dog run/ coop where I can let them out to scratch on the ground and forage for bugs, etc. as I said this is only temporary being I’m in the process of building my chickens a pretty huge chicken coop tractor that overall will have a 20’x12’ run and a 12’x12’ coop that will sit up above the back end of the run that will give the chickens a shaded area when it’s too hot outside. It will have wheels that raise and lower so the coop can be easily moved every day or so to give the chickens new fresh ground to forage on and by moving the coop I’ll never have to do much cleaning of their poop. Coop floor will also have a hardware cloth as a floor so their poop will fall thru to the ground as well. Making the coop as maintenance free as possible. I also plan on adding a solar panel and battery to the coop/ run so the whole set up will be self contained with electrical power to run the diy auto door I plan on building as well and run whatever heat sources, etc. the chicken may need along with a 30-55 gallon tank of water on board so I won’t need to give them water everyday either. Research these tractor coop/runs for quite a while and with any luck I’m trying to take all the best options of all these other coop/run/tractor designs and put them all into just one coop! Not a cheap project though, already got a thousand dollars in materials into this and I expect at least another $600.00 before I ‘m finished if not more? It would of cost more except I already had some materials on hand like 60’ of fencing I used on the bottom of the run to keep predators from being able to dig under the coop to get inside at my chickens won’t be a option for predators now. Except for maybe rats and snakes? But I’m hoping by having a mobile coop/run the rats and snakes won’t find the coop/run too easily? In time I’ll see how it works? I’m trying to remember to take pictures as I go building this so anyone interested in building one will be hopefully able to see and figure out their own design of coop/run tractor.

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