Baby Chick Time

We’ve got two brooder houses in operation now, one with New Hampshire Reds we got from Oregon State University, and another with broilers from Privett Hatchery (actually, they were drop-shipped from Welp Hatchery, but I know that anything ordered via Privett is going to be good).

We get a deal on chicks from OSU every once in a while. These were straight-run New Hampshires. Normally I recommend that people avoid straight-run chicks, because most people have no desire to butcher their own chickens, and even less skill, and the last thing you want is a zillion roosters cluttering up the place. But Karen is a whiz at chicken butchering and we can always get rid of the excess it the Woodburn Small Animal Auction.

(Important tip: never buy poultry at an auction. They’ll come with free parasites that you’ll spend ages eradicating. Auctions are for selling, not buying.)

We’re right in the middle of false spring right now, with warmer temperatures, budding plants, and occasional blue skies. This always happens, and the weather always turns savage again (well, for Oregon) later. But it’s hard to resist buying baby chicks and seeds and trowels and stuff at this time of year.

We butcher broilers at approximately 8 weeks, give or take. The outdoor farmers’ markets start in mid-April, so we’re right on schedule. Hens are in full lay at about six months, so the chicks will start laying just as the older hens enter their summer slump. Half the time we botch basic planning exercises like this (too many calls on our time), but it looks like we got it right this year.

Though the weather is still uncertain across the country, it’s a good time to start baby chicks. A lot of hatcheries have specials up until the March baby-chick frenzy starts. If you don’t know what you want, my rule of thumb is to call the hatchery and ask which of their commercial-quality layers are the most docile and non-cannibalistic. That maximizes the egg-to-heartbreak ratio.

And don’t forget to take a look at my book, Success With Baby Chicks while you’re at it. Even if you’re a pro, it’s easy to forget the fine points between the last batch of last year’s chicks and the first batch of this year’s. You’ll get your money’s worth out of the book within 24 hours of the chicks’ arrival, I promise.

I Publish Books! Norton Creek Press

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

2 thoughts on “Baby Chick Time”

  1. What do you feed your chickens?
    “”It’s a good thing I’m not a vegetarian,” I though. “If I’m killing this many animals just by mowing, imagine what would happen if I plowed this field every year to plant corn and soybeans!”

  2. I would love to hear how your Karen makes chicken butchering less of a messy, time consuming chore. (This post says she is a whiz bang at it 🙂 I would also like to hear about how you raise pigs, i.e. what type of pen, do you move it like a chicken pen etc. I am interested in the Saladin idea of using pigs to aerate/compost the winter’s bedding pack of other animals as well as pig-tillering up a new garden plot and would like to hear any thoughts you have on that. I wonder how much cubic yardage of compost per pig, how much grain to layer in it and how far ahead of time to layer the grain.

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