Why I Got Started Pullets Instead of Chicks This Time

by Daisy on 09/01/2016

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How do I decide when to get more chickens?

Simple: When I don’t have enough eggs.

Why did I decide to get 6 week old juvenile chickens this time?

english angora rabbits

This spring we got angora rabbits, and while they are delightful, sweet, and produce soft fiber to spin, they don’t lay eggs. They did, however, preclude getting spring chicks, because mama can only look after so many young ‘uns at a time.

As the egg production continued to dwindle, though, I decided I didn’t want to wait until next spring to get chicks.

I found six-week old started pullets instead. Here’s my reasoning:

  • We don’t have to go through the tiny baby stage with chicks on the screened porch, cleaning out cages every day because I can put the pullets in a pullet cage outdoors until they’re old enough to join the big hens.
  • They’re already feathered out so they’ll have plenty of protection against the upcoming cooler weather.
  • They can be maturing over the winter (when egg production is low anyway) and begin to lay as soon as they’re at least six months old. That could conceivably be January, but I’m not counting on eggs until spring. Spring EGGS instead of spring CHICKENS!
  • Six fewer weeks of buying separate kinds of chicken feed.
  • We’ve already been-there-and-done-that with baby chicks, so the kids wouldn’t be disappointed not to have fluffy day-olds. They are still excited about the 6-weekers.
  • Less chance of a surprise rooster–pullets are sexed as chicks and again before being sold as pullets so you have a second stamp of verification you are getting egg-layers instead of alarm clocks.

What 6 week old Rhode Island Reds look like

So if you’re thinking about getting pullets instead of chicks, these are some of our reasons for doing it this way. If you’ve never had chicks, though, and you have kids, you probably still want the chick experience. It is precious.

pullet enclosure

As for our pullet set-up, I made a horse wire cage out of scrap 2x2s and 2x4s, wired on all sides but the bottom, with some old fence boards for reinforcement. Because the pullets are still sort of small and can ram through the fence when frightened, I wrapped chicken wire around it.

Inside I have a wire dog crate elevated on a stand where I put them at night for an extra level of protection against predators.

electric fence

Finally, to help me sleep better at night, I got this low voltage electric fence kit and used it to put a two-strand low fence around the whole thing as a guard against raccoons, possums, and whatever else might try to get in.

It’s early days, but I’ll let you know how this goes and ring the egg bell when we get the first egg from the new chicks.

Have you ever gotten started pullets?

 

 



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sallie September 2, 2016 at 8:13 am

Wow. Your bunny s have grown!!! Time to harvest fiber?
Glad you were able to add to your chickens….being out of eggs is not fun.

Diane Bayer September 2, 2016 at 8:18 am

I LOVE your posts! Thank you for taking the time to share.

Daisy September 2, 2016 at 11:18 am

Diane–Thank you so much!

Daisy September 2, 2016 at 11:19 am

Sallie–Big whompin bunnies! Yes, I already have some, need to get more.

Alexis September 2, 2016 at 12:06 pm

I got started pullets last time, thinking that it would be the easier way to go for my suburban backyard. For me, it wasn’t so great. First, I ordered them from a hatchery in the mid-west and the shipping for three hens was $120 (!!). Next, they’d spent their first weeks free-ranging. That sounded great until I realized that one of them decided to roost in the trees. (My experience had been with two sets of chicks prior to this.) I panicked because I couldn’t find her and didn’t know where she’d gotten to. She turned out to be a bullying alpha who was always trying to escape the pen.

I went back to chicks for my current batch of girls. But I can certainly understand the advantage of started pullets!

Daisy September 3, 2016 at 6:45 am

Alexis–You had quite the time!

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