Things to consider before picking a hen...
There are so many things to think about when picking hens for the first time! Picking the right breed can make all the difference as to whether you flock thrives. Here are some things that you should consider before picking a hen.
The hen's age. Some hybrid pullets can start laying as early as 17 weeks, while some heritage breeds can take more than 26 weeks to mature and start laying. Our Olive Egger and Easter Egger didn’t start laying until about 9 months, although they may have started earlier if we have provided alternate lighting through the winter.
The season. The peak season for laying is during the summer. During the fall and winter egg production can drastically decrease and even stop due to a lack of light and/or molting. It’s important to remember that while some breeds continue to lay naturally over the winter, others may need to be tricked into laying.
- Climatic hardiness determines whether a certain breed can
survive the local temperatures without being placed under a higher than normal
- Each breed has adapted in different ways
to cope with temperatures. Make sure to pick a breed that can survive your
temperatures, as this can determine whether your flock thrives or dies
- Some breeds that are cold hardy include
Plymouth Rocks, Chanteclers, Orpingtons and Sussexes.
is the result of a breed’s predator response instincts
- Some breeds can be easily spooked and will bolt (sometimes through flight) which can make them more difficult to catch if they escape
- Beginners might want to focus on breeds that are calm and easy to manage, such as Barred Rocks or Orpingtons
- Broodiness is a hen’s instinct to sit on eggs until they hatch.
- Broodiness has been selectively bred out of some breeds to ensure they continue to lay eggs on a daily basis
- There are ways to break a broody hen of her behaviour, but this can be stressful on both the hen and owner
- Broodiness can last three weeks or longer
Chicks are the cheapest to buy at $2.00-5.00/each, but remember that chicks require special care and equipment. There is also no guarantee on the sex of the chick and you will have to wait anywhere from 4-8 months for eggs. Some hatcheries will offer chick’s that are vaccinated against Mereck’s disease at additional cost. Although Mereck’s is a contagious and fatal disease, there is disagreement as to whether isolated backyard flocks need this vaccination. This is a decision that you have to make for yourself.
Ready-to-lay Pullets are the teenagers of the chicken world.. They tend to vary from in price from $5.00-$40.00, depending on breed. With these birds, eggs will generally arrive within a month and you have a far a better chance avoiding roosters.
Laying Hens can cost anywhere from $5.00-$50.00 depending on age and breed. They are wonderful in that they are laying when you get them, but they will, therefore, have a shorter laying time for you overall. On the up side, you pretty much have a guarantee of no roosters.
What does "straight-run" mean?
Straight run means “just as hatched”. The chicks have not been sexed to determine if they are males or females.