Perfect! You’re thinking of starting chickens! Or you may already have your chicken coop ready, have researched different breeds, and know where to buy your first birds, but there is one more decision to make: What is the best age to buy your first chickens?
The age at which you should buy your first chickens depends on a number of factors: your experience in raising poultry, your budget, the effort you want to put into raising them, and what you want your chickens for, eggs, meat, display, etc. Each age has its own advantages and disadvantages which we have listed below to help you choose the age of chickens for your backyard.
Chicks need a brooder with a heat source to keep them warm. Some day-old chicks are ‘sexed’, which means that you can get hens from day one if your goal is to get a lot of eggs, but there is a margin of error when they are so small!
If fresh eggs are the sole purpose of raising your hens, remember that it will be five to six months before your chicks start laying.
These birds are sold around 8 weeks of age, the most significant change is the development of their adult feathers and they will no longer need a lamp in the hatchery to keep warm. Buying 2-month-old chickens is the most recommended option for both experienced and novice breeders as they are larger, stronger, and more independent than chicks, but still young enough to be easily domesticated and bond with their breeders.
If your main goal is to raise chickens for delicious eggs, you will need to have a little patience, as it will still be several weeks before they start laying!
Hens at Laying Point (Ready to Lay – RTL)
The usual age to buy chickens, especially those that want fresh eggs soon, is the laying point or RTL. The laying point is the age when a hen should be about to lay her first eggs.
This age can be quite difficult to predict, but most chicken breeds will start laying around 4-6 months. However, if you have heritage breeds, you may need to wait few more weeks for them to mature before they start providing fresh eggs to your home.
At this age, they are considered adult birds, so they are resistant and strong, so they do not require special care. Because of this, they will be slightly more expensive than buying chicks, although the eggs that you will soon be able to collect in the morning make up for this!
When purchasing hens at laytime, it is important that they be fed a special diet for laying hens to help prepare their bodies to produce fresh eggs.
Birds that fall into this category are hens that are in their first year of laying and are often purchased as breeders. The advantage of buying a hen older than 8 months is that the bird already produces eggs, so there will be no waiting for fresh eggs at our breakfast, if you are looking for chickens for the sole purpose of laying eggs, this is the best! old to buy!
One of the few disadvantages is that these birds will be more expensive, but very independent and resistant, so they do not require additional care and are very easy to keep. It is important to note that the price of the birds will also depend on their breed, so keep this in mind when making your purchase.
What are the pros and cons of buying day-old chicks?
Chickens of all ages are fascinating creatures and make great pets and companions, it just comes down to your personal preference and experience as to what age you should buy them at.
If you choose to buy day-old chicks, a treat awaits you! It’s amazing how fast these little ones grow, so you’ll want to make sure you have the knowledge you need to raise a happy, healthy herd. You don’t want to risk making tragic mistakes that could affect your development, growth, or worse!
Pros of buying day-old chicks
- One-day-old chicks are so cute!
- Raising chicks is great for kids
- Chicks raised from a young age make great pets!
- They are cheaper than adult birds.
- Chicks from farms are often vaccinated.
- Chicks are usually available sexed depending on the breed.
- You get the benefit of raising chicks without the need for an incubator
Cons of buying day-old chicks
- You can still end up with unwanted roosters
- It will be some time before you get eggs.
- You need a brooder with artificial light to keep the chicks warm and healthy.
- If you already have chickens, you will need to keep them separate for a few months.
- Chicks are delicate
- Often only available in common commercial breeds.
What are the pros and cons of buying two-month-old chickens?
Two-month-old chicks are often the most economical option: they are closer to laying than chicks and do not require a brooder. They are cheaper than older birds but more expensive than chicks or eggs.
Pros of buying two-month-old chickens
- You can identify the sex of your birds and there will be no mistakes!
- These birds are large enough to be quite tough, independent, and capable of caring for themselves.
- Because they are young, they adapt quite well and make good pets.
- Chicks from breeders have generally been vaccinated against common diseases.
- They do not require special facilities
Cons of buying two-month-old chickens
- Two-month-old birds are not always available
- Care should be taken when introducing two-month-old chickens to an existing flock, as their slightly smaller size makes them a target for older hens.
- You still have to wait a couple of months or so before they start to put
- Often only available in common breeds.
What are the pros and cons of buying ready-to-lay chickens?
Laying point birds are not cheap, but you can expect an egg within weeks of purchase!
Pros of buying ready-to-lay chickens
- The birds at the point of laying are already producing eggs or very soon they will.
- They are hardy and can take care of themselves within a herd.
- Breeders’ birds are usually vaccinated against common diseases.
Cons of buying ready-to-lay chickens
- Brood birds are the most expensive.
What are the pros and cons of buying laying hens?
These birds are adults and the proven laying hens. If purchased in stores, laying hens are generally in their first year of laying, but hens purchased online or in classifieds can be any age.
Pros of buying laying hens
- Birds purchased from reputable farms will be proven layers or breeders
- These are fully grown birds that do not require any special care.
Cons of buying laying hens
- Adult birds tend to carry more disease and parasites than younger birds, putting your flock at risk
- Egg production decreases with age, particularly with birds older than 2 years.
- Dishonest sellers can lie about the true age of a hen and there is no way to know for sure.
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