Traditionally, raising baby chicks is a springtime activity. Chicks fit right in with the sense of renewal and new life that Spring brings. In years past, when mother hens raised their babies “the old-fashioned way,” spring was the perfect time to do it. But nowadays, with tools like brooders and heat lamps at our disposal, chicks can be raised just about year-round. Have you ever considered raising chicks in fall or winter? There are some considerable advantages you might want to know about!
- Work with the weather, not against it.
If you live in a cold weather area, your chicks will be kept warm and cozy all winter long in their brooder under a heat lamp. By the time they have grown big enough to live outdoors, it should be warm enough for them to thrive. It is also said that chickens who finish maturing during a chilly spring are hardier throughout their lives.
If you live in a hot weather area, shipping day-old chicks is less risky during cooler months. While chicks like to be kept warm, there is a real threat of overheating while being shipped in spring or summer. Raising chicks in the winter also gives them more time to mature before the grueling summer temperatures hit. They will be larger, more equipped to regulate their body temperature, and less at risk of dehydration.
- Take advantage of fall “end of season” merchandise clearance sales
Do you buy your holiday decorations the day AFTER the holiday, in preparation for next year? Same concept goes for all your chick raising merchandise!
- Easy ordering from hatcheries
Spring is still the busy season for commercial hatcheries that ship chicks to backyard chicken keepers across the country. By ordering during the off season, you can skip the spring rush and avoid breeds being sold out. There could be a reduced number of breed choices, but the breeds they do offer will be tried and true, fan favorite, heritage breeds.
- Be more competitive in the show ring.
If you are planning on entering poultry shows, getting a jump start on raising your birds could give you the advantage. Shows are usually held in summer and fall, so a winter chick will be older, larger, and have better plumage than a spring chick.
- It’s all about the eggs!
Let’s consider 2 main points. #1 – With any hen’s laying cycle, egg production is at its peak in spring and summer, and at its lowest in fall and winter. This is directly related to length of daylight. #2 – Young hens begin laying egg at around 5 – 6 months old. If you raise your chicks in spring, your hens are mature and ready to lay eggs at the end of the season. This results in them laying a few eggs here and there until winter comes. Sometimes, hens won’t lay any eggs at all until the following year. If you raise your chicks in fall or winter, they’ll be ready to lay eggs as soon as spring comes around, and that means maximum eggs! It is also said that since the hen will have had a chance to grow larger before producing any eggs, she will lay larger eggs throughout her lifetime. What’s not to love about that?
All that being said, raising chicks in fall or winter sounds like a great idea! Give it a try and let us know how it works for you!