raising chicks in the summer
Spring and fall are my busiest time of year. People buy chicks in the early spring to be laying by the end of summer, and in the fall to have chicks laying early in the following year. When sales slow down, that’s when I start hatching for myself to begin growing out the birds that I will select from to replace older birds next season.
Many people prefer growing out chicks in the fall and winter, and it’s true, those birds will feather faster and are very hardy, but there are advantages to growing out chicks in the summer, too. The most obvious advantage is the nighttime temperatures. In the winter, I have to brood chicks indoors until they are about 6 weeks old and feathered. In the summer, I will often move chicks to the grow out pens at 3 weeks old with a heat lamp hanging in one corner if they need it. The grow out pens are much larger, so I can hatch larger numbers of birds more often, which is important for me when I need as many as I can get to choose from to select my replacements.
Though chick sales slow down, demand for pullets is always up, so as these young birds grow I have plenty of pullets available for sale. There are always too many roosters, and many culls with BCM, so after the better cockerels are sold it helps to have a few people that you can count on to take extra roosters off your hands to be processed. BCM are one of the better table birds when they reach butcher size, and I have a few friends and customers that will take 10-20 off my hands at one time. Young roosters are like teenage boys, they eat more than they are worth, so quite often I end up giving the culls away just to cut down on the feed bill.
The best part for me is that these summer raised birds will start laying in late fall or early winter, the peak of chick season. The young cockerels are full of energy, so in the dead of winter I will be getting a steady supply of eggs with high fertility rates.
Just because Easter is over, don’t give up on starting with chicks