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?
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.
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.
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.
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?