When is the best time of year to start chicks

Newborn chicks“Why do you hatch out
a batch [of chicks] so late in the summer and have you found
this to be the best time?”

— Karyn

When Mark
posted on our homestead blog about welcoming our fall chicks to
the world
, a
reader asked the astute question above.  I answered her
briefly on Mark’s post, but thought I’d go into fall chicks in a
bit more detail over here.

We actually hatch
three batches of chicks each year, which is in part due to only
being able to come up with 20 or fewer at a time due to the
size of our incubator
.  But it also works Moving a chick to a larger
brooderwell with our farm year to
be raising three smaller batches of chicks scattered through the
summer rather than one big batch.  Multiple, smaller batches
let us use a smaller pasture area without the groundcover becoming
over-grazed, and multiple batches also lower the workload during
killing week.

Then there’s the
purpose of the chicks to consider.  We start our first batch
early enough that they’ll hatch by the beginning of March,
ensuring that these replacement pullets are in full lay by the
time the
days start getting significantly shorter
.  If you start
your spring chicks too late, pullets have a tendency to wait until
the next spring to produce eggs, which means an egg-less winter
and more store-bought feed for less gain.

Chick brooderWith broilers, day length
isn’t important, but weather will still impact how easy it is to
keep those chicks healthy.  From this standpoint, fall chicks
are the best in our climate.  They hatch just as the dog days
of summer are ending, so it’s easy to keep them warm enough during
those critical three weeks while the babies are fuzz-balls with
low thermoregulation abilities.  The chicks grow up during a
time when grasses are starting to grow again and when our garden
harvest results in masses of excess food, cutting our feed
bills.  And slaughter time comes around Thanksgiving, when
days are cool and flies are absent, making the process much more
pleasant for us.  All told, if I wasn’t raising layers and
wanted to raise only one batch of broilers per year, I’d probably
stick to this time of year for starting the chicks.

I’d be curious to
hear from other folks about their chick-raising schedule.  Do
you stick to the traditional Easter hatch, or do you scatter your
youngsters throughout the year?

No matter when you start your chicks,
an Avian Aqua Miser
is the sure way to keep their bedding dry and the chicks

Latest Comments

  1. Kyle Reilly August 27, 2013

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