It’s Not Too Late For Fall Brooding

Fall brooding is at least as easy as spring brooding, and maybe easier. The weather is usually drier. The season is winding down, so there are fewer demands on your time. And there’s plenty of time for the chickens to become fully feathered and completely winter-hardy before the nasty weather sets in.

Pullet chicks brooded in October will be in full lay by April.

Mostly, fall brooding is just like spring brooding. If you’ve been brooding all summer long, you’ll need to drop your warm-weather habits and remember how you did things in early spring.

Some tips:

  • Many hatcheries hatch year-round, but the off-season selection is smaller: mostly commercial strains. That’s okay. Buy your high-producing hybrids in the fall, and your exotic breeds in the spring.
  • When in doubt, buy from Privett Hatchery in Portales, NM. I buy all my chicks there. Mostly Red Sex-Links, but their Barred Rocks are very nice birds.
  • Take a good look at your brooder before the chicks arrive. If you’re using heat lamps, always use two or more, never just one. You can get heat lamps as small as 100W, or you can use floodlight bulbs instead of heat lamps, so you can use more bulbs without using more electricity. (I’ve stopped using 250w bulbs. Too hot. Two 125w heat lamps or 150w floodlights are better.)
  • Remember to use a brooder guard this time, even if it was too hot in the summer.
  • Beware of rats. Fall is a good time to replenish your bait stations (I like the big weatherproof Eaton Rat Fortress bait stations). Yes, I know poison isn’t nice, but having rats eat your baby chicks is far worse.
  • Have a plan for dealing with the chicks when they get big. Don’t assume that you’ll magically come up with a winter henhouse for a group of chicks once they outgrow the brooder house. Winter construction projects need advance planning. At a minimum, plan to keep the chicks in the brooder house, and allow two square feet per chick.
  • If you need to bould a new henhouse for your new flock, read Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, the only book that gets the basics of chicken-house construction right.
  • If the chicks are going to be confined most of the winter, buy a non-cannibalistic strain of chicken. Crowding tends to bring on outbreaks of cannibalism, while free range tends to cure them — but range often isn’t available in the winter unless you’re in a mild or hot climate.
  • Last but not least, buy a copy of my book, Success With Baby Chicks, which goes into all the considerations very thoroughly.

All of which makes a long and slightly intimidating list, but when you do things by the numbers, your fall brooding will go like clockwork. Try it and see!

I Publish Books! Norton Creek Press

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this issue. Most of my posts are based on input from people like you, so leave a comment below!

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, is an expert on free-range chickens, and is a semi-struggling novelist. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years. In addition, he holds down a day job doing technical writing at Workspot.

4 thoughts on “It’s Not Too Late For Fall Brooding”

  1. I am really glad to see your post about fall chicks. I am getting a couple more batches soon. I didn’t know about the smaller lights. Thanks for enlightening me!

    My very first chicks came on Oct 1, 2008. I didn’t know any different. I wanted what I wanted and just did it after reading your “Success with Baby Chicks” book and “The Dollar Hen”. I got 200 that month. They all did great! Since then, I have raised over 600 more. I really enjoy the fall chicks the best.

    I can’t wait for the farming season to slow down a bit so I can read more of your books! I study something about chickens, turkeys, or other farm related EVERY day, but I want to read a whole book.

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us!

  2. I remember when I was still young, I would help my dad to raise chicks called Saso. These breed of chicken are pretty easy to raise and feed. Thank you for sharing such an interesting and informative article. – Pinoy

  3. We use a brooder just like the one pictured in this article. We live in Wisconsin. We start our babies in April, May, and June. We seem to lose a lot in our April batch. I just read that you use two 125 watt bulbs. Is that in a brooder like the one shown?

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