Here at Just Fowling Around, we hatch and raise chicks year round or as long as the hens are laying. We do take a break from hatching typically about one month out of the year, but the remainder of the year our hatches are staggered so that we have chicks in various stages of growth throughout the year.
Spring is when most people think of purchasing chicks, but part of that is because the industry promotes them at that time and those chicks are only available during a fairly short window, from about mid February to early June. Very few hatcheries offer chicks at any other time of the year, so if you don't get your orders in early, you likely will not get the chicks you desire.
Feed stores have an even shorter window. They may have chicks from mid-February until about the end of March and chicks are not offered again through the entire year. Part of that of course is their revolving inventory and seasonal merchandise, leaving just a short time they make chicks available. We're far more flexible and as long as the hens are laying we are hatching, and that includes chicks available in the fall.
Just Fowling Around has promoted fall chicks for a few years now, for very good reason. Those Autumn chicks will be your Spring layers. They are growing and maturing during the months when the typical hens are not laying, so you don't miss the eggs and not anticipating eggs from the chicks. This has been one of our JFA tips of the day each autumn season. justfowlingaround.weebly.com/jfa-tip-of-the-day
The chicks raised in the fall are hardy, and ready for outdoors before the severe weather hits in most regions, and they will typically be matured enough to start laying ahead of Spring or as the days get longer.
Those chicks you purchased in the prior Spring, matured during summer, started laying, then laid off during the low light months, so you may have gotten eggs for about a month, maybe two months at the very most. Your Autumn chicks, will lay anywhere from February through October, when they will go through a molt as they approach a year old. Those pullets that started laying in February are more productive and you'll be waiting until the following Spring for your Spring chicks to be productive.
The Icelandic breed, is known for hatching chicks in mid winter and taking their babies out in the ice and snow within a day of hatch. Of course mama is nearby so as the chicks chill she brings them under her wings to warm them.
Most of the breeds we raise are hardy dual purpose breeds, that do well summer and winter. And some of our breeds do lay during the cold months or as the days start getting a little longer after the Winter Solstice (December), as the season moves toward Spring. Some of the more productive breeds and hardiest include the Heritage leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Red Sagitta, Icelandic and Swedish Flower Hens.
Raising late season chicks is the very same as raising spring season chicks. They have the same needs; food, water, warmth and shelter. They need to be feathered up well and gradually introduced to an outdoor environment to acclimatize. This is typically at 6 to 8 weeks old. Provide a wind-free shelter, that faces the south, so the day time warmth penetrates their enclosure. Provide plenty of bedding, to prevent the ground from freezing. If nights are especially cold, cover their shelter with a tarp to hold in the warmth, but remember to turn the tarp back each morning and do not fully enclose in a tarp, there needs to be proper air circulation.
We do suggest that when selecting your fall chicks, that you select hardy breeds, that typically also make good winter layers. Chickens are classified as Mediterranean, Asian, European and American. Mediterranean breeds will be the least hardy in very cold climates, however they do very well in the heat of summer and typically are consistent layers through most of the laying season, though Leghorns are considered Mediterranean breeds, our Heritage Leghorns do well through all the seasons. American heritage breeds are hardy, dual purpose breeds, that do well all seasons of the year, and good layers during much of the year.
For more information on the care and raising of chicks, refer to the link:
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