Most people consider fluffy peeping baby chicks a harbinger of spring. That makes sense, as March, April and May are the months of rebirth. The weather’s warming, wild birds nest,and baby cottontail rabbits appear on the lawn. Popping open the lid of the shipping box to reveal a couple of dozen fluffy baby chicks is a delightful spring tradition for many families.
There is no reason to restrict the fun to the spring season. Fall is an ideal time to welcome a batch of baby chicks. The thrill is just as strong in September as in May, and enough warm days remain as colorful leaves tumble off trees for the babies to feather out and grow before winter’s grip arrives. By the first snowfall autumn-hatched chicks will be ready to handle the the coming frigid blasts of winter.
Few family activities are as fun as grilling dinner outdoors on a golden fall afternoon. Order meat breed chicks in early fall and they’ll be the perfect size to pop on the grill six to eight weeks later. Start layer chicks about the same time and they will begin giving the family daily gifts of eggs long before winter’s chill departs in February or March..
Caring for fall and spring chicks is essentially the same, except in spring the world is warming. In the fall it’s cooling. So, fall hatched chicks may need the brooder’s warmth a little longer than their spring counterparts.
Hoover’s Hatchery sells chicks year round but breeds and hybrids hatched in the fall tend toward utility birds efficient at producing meat or eggs. Anyone wanting unusual or rare breeds might need to wait until spring. Breeds available in fall are tried and true ones that are hardy, beautiful and productive. Although it’s fun to raise rare breeds they often can’t match the egg production ability of dual purpose breeds available year round.
A good rule of thumb is to have a chick order arrive at least six weeks before the first hard fall freeze. That way the babies will be well feathered when frosty nights arrive. Up north in the Continental US that makes September an ideal chick starting month. Down south, October may be perfect. It’s fine to order chicks for later delivery but they will likely need supplemental heat as cold descends on the land.
Excellent chicks to start this fall include any egg or meat production hybrid or classic dual purpose birds. Cornish Rock meat hybrids will be ready to butcher when only six or seven weeks old, and other meat hybrids are only slightly slower. That means delicious fresh meat to grill on frosty fall afternoons.
Fall started egg laying hybrid chickens start laying when about 20 to 22 weeks old so their first eggs will appear like magic in the nest before winter’s over..
Fall is the perfect season to start time-tested dual purpose breeds. Orpingtons, Rocks, Rhode Island and New Hampshire Reds, Delawares, Wyandottes, and Australorps. They are all rugged, beautiful breeds well suited to living in small backyard coops. Although they may not produce quite as many eggs as super laying hybrids they come close. Dual purpose roosters take two to three times longer to mature than Cornish Rocks but provide the “old fashioned” chicken taste that many people prefer over the blander meat of fast growing hybrids.
Not certain what breeds to order? Hoover’s makes it easy. Simply order an assortment of brown or white egg breeds. Don’t want roosters? Order pullet, or female, chicks. Want roosters and pullets? Then place an order for straight run chicks.
This fall families across America will enjoy the autumn tradition of carving a pumpkin together. Raising chicks in the golden days of autumn is an equally pleasant tradition that yields delicious food to enjoy when the snow flies.