New blogger Traci DeLore shares why she prefers Summer Chicks.
I’m no spring chicken – fan, that is.
Why Summer Chicks
Raising chicks in the summer is absolutely the way to go for me. There’s less mess, easier integration, and better weather. It’s a no brainer.
Around me, chick frenzy starts in late February at the feed store. The big galvanized tubs come out and I know that any day, tiny fluffy chicks are about to arrive.
When I first started keeping chickens, I was so excited to see this. It meant I’d soon have adorable little bundles of fluff to coo over.
I did start with Spring Chicks
The first year, the result of my enthusiasm was something like 24 of those bundles of fluff in a big cage in my basement. Every spring for four years, I had at least some chicks somewhere in my house. Why? Because February is still winter where I live. So is March. Often, April is, too. It’s just too cold, windy, and snowy in Upstate New York to put chicks outside this time of year.
However, if you’ve ever done it, you know that having chicks anywhere in your house creates non-stop mess. I had to stop the madness – before the term “crazy chicken lady” became far too true!
It took a broody hen to teach me the joys of summer chicks over spring ones. My mama faithfully hatches eggs twice a year – once in April (where SHE raises them out in the coop and no one ends up in my basement) and once in late July or early August.
The Switch to Summer
It was that first August hatch that turned me on to raising summer chicks. With her April chicks, she’d take them outside and I’d freak out that it was too cold. I didn’t have to worry about that with the summer chicks because it was so much warmer. (Eventually I learned to trust mama’s judgement with those April chicks, but I still worry.)
After that first summer, I was sold! No more spring chicks for me. The hard part is holding firm when those adorable chicks arrive in the feed store. I look – but I don’t buy. (It helps that my feed store now does a second chick session from late July through early September.)
Whether they hatch under a broody or I brood them myself, raising summer chicks is just easier. My mama hen’s raise their chicks right within the flock. (I do have a separate smaller coop and run I can use if needed.)
Raising Chicks with the Flock
When I buy chicks, I also raise them right with the flock. I use a large dog crate reinforced with some screening so the littlest of chicks can’t slip out. This crate goes right out in the coop so that everyone can see and get to know each other from day one. I use a radiant heater the chicks can choose to go under if they need extra warmth. They tend to only use it for about two weeks, but I leave it there until they are about six weeks old and feathered.
For the first few weeks, the tiny chicks stay in the crate full time. Since they are right in the coop with the flock, they learn the flock routine. They go to bed when the flock does. They eat when the flock does. When they are big enough to mingle with the flock, they just follow the routine. This is so much easier than the lengthy integration process and learning curve when I was brooding spring chicks in my house.
No mess in my house. No worry about how the chicks will stay warm if the power goes out from a spring snowstorm. The chicks can enjoy outside time when they are just a few days old. The integration process is easy and natural.
Do you want to know the best part of raising summer chicks? These chicks will start laying during those cold and dark winter days when the rest of the flock takes a break.
Summer chicks rule!
Traci DeLore grew up around chickens on her family’s farm, but didn’t start keeping her own chickens until she was in her 40s. Her desire to keep chickens came from a desire to have her own fresh eggs from chickens she knew were well cared for and happy. Traci started with six chickens – and then chicken math took over. These days, she has about 60 chickens – and three “rotten” ducks. (I say this because having ducks is like living with toddlers.) Traci also raises and processes her own meat chickens on occasion. You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram.