Top 5 Reasons To Raise Chicks In The Fall
Most of us enjoy raising chickens year-round, but did you know that there are some advantages to raising chickens in the fall?
While we all like the idea of letting our baby chicks out into the world to explore. Spring and summer weather allows chicks to get outside briefly before they are fully feathered and ready to live in the coop full time. With a little bit of planning and forethought, there shouldn’t be any problem raising chicks in the fall and introducing them outside when it’s a bit colder. The only difference between raising chicks in the spring versus raising them in the fall is the temperature trends. Spring tends to trend warmer each day, while fall will generally trend cooler as the weeks progress.
Because of this, fall chicks may need supplemental heat in the brooder a little longer than chicks raised in springtime. But aside from that, the brooding process is, for the most part, the same. Until they are fully feathered, chicks should be raised in a brooder. Brooders can be store-bought, or homemade. The most important thing is that they are placed inside of a controlled environment that can provide the baby chicks with a consistent temperature of 95 degrees for the first week or so. As the chicks grow, we can decrease the temperature of the brooder by 5 degrees every week. By about 5 to 6 weeks of age, they can tolerate 70-degree outdoor temperatures. Now they can go on small outings just as you would do in the warmer months.
Here are our top five reasons for raising chicks in the fall
A much better time of year to build a coop! Fall weather is typically much more predictable than spring weather, and much cooler than the temperatures in the summer.
We have fairer weather to introduce our young birds outside to our coop. Most chicken breeds do better in the cooler months than in the heat of the summer. Fall chicks that are raised in a brooder and able to acclimate gradually to the fall temperatures are fully feathered and ready to handle being outside before the full grip of winter arrives. Once introduced to the coop, they do just fine during any weather that the winter should bring. When planning when to bring in your new chicks, a good rule of thumb is to have them arrive at a minimum of six weeks before the first hard freeze. While the timing of this will vary depending on your geographic location, for most of the United States this makes September an ideal month to start raising your fall batch of chicks.
Your spring pest control army is ready to go! Most of us who have raised chickens know of their ability to keep bugs and other pests in our yards to a minimum. Fall-raised chicks are old enough by springtime to be ready to take on any bugs that nature throws at them. Chickens are avid bug eaters that can greatly reduce the number of pests in your yard. Ticks, mosquitos, spiders, grubs, and a wide variety of other pests are no match – giving us a nearly bug-free yard for most of the summer!
Fall-raised chicks mean a delay for the first molt in young birds. Molting is a natural process that happens yearly to allow chickens to grow a new set of feathers. It most commonly occurs before the winter, with the exact timing determined by factors such as breed, age, and season. Because young chickens will delay their molt until a certain amount of eggs have been laid, molting typically happens when the feathers are a bit older and worn. Fall-hatched chicks have an advantage over spring chicks as their feathers are still young and healthy in the spring. Since they don’t typically molt until after a year, there won’t be any interruption in summer egg production.
Have a ready-to-go laying flock in full egg production! Most chickens will go into peak egg production and hit their stride at about a year old. With chicks raised in the spring, this means that they will hit egg-laying maturity in the heat of the summer. As the summer days get shorter, they will lay fewer eggs, and as we go into winter they can lay even fewer eggs. For chicks raised in the fall, on the other hand, will reach egg-laying maturity in the late winter to early spring months. Since the days are shorter, most don’t start laying until the days get longer. This gives their bodies more time to mature, which will cause them to go into their prime producing rate as the days get longer.
There you have it! Raising chicks in the fall sets our flock up for success in the long run by allowing the chicks to grow slower in the winter months and prepare for a long life of good health and egg production.
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