So you are finally ready to raise some chickens. Many of you have gone on a chicken coop tour and your have some great ideas for your coop. The weather is finally warm and dry and you figure you can finish your coop in the next couple weeks. Or maybe you already have chickens but were paid a visit by a raccoon. Or perhaps you have a broody hen and you want to give her a couple chicks to try to raise. Traditional feed stores only carry chicks in early spring and stop around Easter. The good news is we sell baby chicks throughout the summer.
There are a number of advantages to raising your chicks in the late spring or summer. Since it is warmer outside, it will be warmer inside. This means your chicks won’t need a heat lamp for as long. Once they get to the three week old stage, they can go outside during the day and come back in at night.
Also most regional hatcheries are focused on the more standard breeds during the early spring. Now that they don’t have to supply large feed stores, they can hatch more unusual or heritage breeds. We have some fun breeds scheduled to arrive in the next few months.
The disadvantage is that you may or may not get eggs this year. Most hens start laying between three and seven months but many don’t lay often in the late fall and winter. So a chick that was hatched in August will be out in their coop in September. They will have plenty time to feather out and go through their gangly stage before winter arrives. These hens might lay occasionally in the winter but as soon as the sunlight returns you will get a jump start on next year’s eggs.
The trend toward urban farming is allowing us to approach things in more creative ways. Raising baby chicks in the summer is a great example of adapting a rural farming practice to meet the needs of a backyard homestead.