Hatching Chicks in Autumn

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Cute little chicks :)

Cute little chicks 🙂

For complete instructions on hatching eggs, see my post How to Hatch Chicken Eggs in an Incubator

Hatching in Spring vs Fall

Most people think of cute little chicks hatching in the spring, right around Easter time. It’s the natural time of year for baby animals to start their lives, including chicks. There are advantages to hatching your baby poultry in spring. They have the whole summer to grow, eat bugs and grass, and get big enough to survive cold weather. It’s a little easier on the feed bill to grow out your chicks during the summer.  You also have the cool weather in fall to butcher the extra cockerels.

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However, there are advantages to starting a new batch of chicks in the late summer and fall. The temperatures are often a bit warmer than early spring, which makes it easier to keep the little fluffballs warm in their brooder. Also, since it usually takes 5-6 months for pullets to start laying eggs, they will be in their prime laying condition the following spring. For those of us who sell more eggs in the summer, this is a very good thing!


So How Does This Work?

Whether you order day old chicks from a hatchery, or incubate your own at home, you can time things so that your chicks have reached laying age around the time that you are Culling Your Old Laying Hens.

I know that my egg sales will drop off considerably in October. Most of my hens are winding down in their production. Since I don’t want to feed the whole flock through the winter, I will process all of my old stewing hens in late October or early November, around the same time as our turkeys. I’ll have enough hens to keep our family in eggs for the winter, but any hen that isn’t laying well will not be ‘asked’ to stick around.

The young chicks cost less to feed for the first few months. As they get older and need more food the weather should start warming up enough to let them out to pasture during the day. The new green grass will help make those pullet eggs higher in nutritional content and everyone will be ‘eggstatic’ about the fresh spring eggs!


A Note About Ordering from Hatcheries

If you choose to order chicks in the fall, you may find a drastic reduction in the number of breeds available. Many hatcheries don’t hatch certain breeds after July, due to the lower number of orders in fall. However, your chicks are less likely to get chilled when ordered in late summer or early fall, compared to ordering in late winter or early spring.

Conclusion

There are advantages to hatching or ordering baby poultry in both spring and autumn. Ordering in the fall gives you a flock of laying hens just in time to supply summer egg customers! Choose the best time for your needs and provide a warm brooder and fresh feed for the little fluff balls.

Do you hatch chicks or other poultry in the fall?

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15 comments on “Hatching Chicks in Autumn

  1. Pingback: My Ever-Changing Flock - The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

  2. Pingback: Hatching Ducklings in Autumn

  3. Richard Wolfrath ( wolf )

    If you are ordering chicks through the mail or your local feed mill,, for egg laying reasons only,, It is wise to pay the little difference in price and order your birds already sexed..
    It cost a lot more to raise that leghorn rooster up for the amount of meat you get,, then the difference on buying hen chicks to begin with.
    Besides,, You may have wanted a dozen laying hens, and now you found out by ordering straight run not sexed, you only ended up with 8
    You can always order a rooster or two if you want a rooster around your hens and a alarm clock you don’t have to always set.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      I understand your reasons for ordering pullets, Wolf. I have mixed feelings about it, because the day old cockerels are often disposed of in an inhumane manner. I’ve been hatching my own chicks as much as I can, so I know that they are raised humanely. I do butcher all of the roosters I don’t want, but they have a short, happy life and then they die quickly. Then we eat them.

      But I completely understand that not everyone can do this.

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Preparing for Spring on the Homestead

    1. Anonymous

      beware the guinea… VERY loud. We had some but had to rehome once my work-at-home-husband realized he did all conference calls on mute, rushed out to scare the guineas away before he would talk, and then go back to mute. oddly, he worked this way for a month or so before it occurred to him it wasn’t an ideal work condition. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Lisa Lynn Post author

        Lol! that’s funny 😉
        The noise is the reason that I don’t have guineas…also, I couldn’t keep them out of my neighbor’s yard…and he wouldn’t appreciate them.

        Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Sandra,
      Yes…they are tempting, aren’t they?! And addictive…I’ve heard someone call chickens the ‘gateway drug’ to poultry keeping. 😉

      I can stop any time. Really. But first I want to raise Khaki Campbell ducks, and Guinea fowl, and…

      Reply
  5. Jenny

    We hatched a small batch of chicks about three weeks ago. Our fall weather is probably much warmer than yours but so far they’ve been doing fine. These are a heritage breed meat bird so we’ll probably process a few over the holiday season, keep one roo for breeding, and the gals for laying eggs. I agree with what you said about the hatcheries and how the rooster problem is dealt with. 🙁 One reason why we purchased an incubator and learned to butcher our birds.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      That’s awesome, Jenny! Good for you! Best wishes with your little biddies…I bet they are super cute 😉 I hope you like the breed you are raising. Mine are all mutts now 🙂 And yes…I have a hard time ordering from hatcheries now that I am more aware of the conditions. Sigh. Being a conscientious omniivore is definitely not easy.

      Congrats on doing it yourself!

      Reply
  6. backyardchickenlady

    Well that makes total sense. I am just concerned about finding a warm place big enough to house the chicks until spring. I also wish I had the ability to cull my own birds. I’m just a little too squeamish to do it myself. I haven’t been able to find anyone within less than a two hour drive who can do it either. My girls are only about one year old right now so I don’t have an urgent need to cull older hens yet.

    I so enjoyed hatching my own babies last year.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Back Yard Chicken Lady 🙂
      I understand not wanting to cull your own hens…I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it at first. It is definitely not something I enjoy. But I also don’t like to feed chickens that aren’t producing.

      If you don’t have a good place for chicks to stay warm then later in spring is a much better time to hatch your eggs! Best wishes!

      Reply

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