If you have plans on raising chickens whether as a hobby or business, you should know first know the ins and outs, as well as the pros and cons. You might also want to know and understand some terminologies used. Most likely, you know that male chickens are called roosters, right? Female chickens are called hens, while their offspring are called chicks. But what do you call a young hen that is less than one year old? Well, they are called pullets. How are they different from full-grown hens? And more importantly, why should you know more about them? It’s because they play a vital role in chicken breeding and egg production. So go ahead and read along.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Pullet Chicken?
- 2 Are Pullets More Expensive Than the Others?
- 3 What Are Ready-to-lay Pullets?
- 4 Do Pullets Have Delay in Sexual Maturity?
- 5 What Are the Signs that My Pullets Are Ready to Lay Eggs?
- 6 What to do Once Your Pullets Start to Lay Eggs
- 7 Pros and Cons of Buying Pullets Instead of Chicks
- 8 Conclusion
What is a Pullet Chicken?
Again, pullets are hens that haven’t reached one year of age while a young rooster is called a cockerel. Pullet hens have not laid eggs yet. But when they are already ready, they will also become egg layers. If a pullet started to lay eggs earlier than it should, it is likely to suffer from prolapses or drooping of organs.
A full-grown pullet has shiny, fully-coated feathers but its body is still developing. A hen that is 15-22 weeks old is called a started pullet. Once it reaches 22 weeks old, it is now becoming closer to lay eggs and is called a “point of lay” chicken. In general, they will start laying eggs when they are 16 and 24 weeks of age. Their first eggs are called pullet eggs are usually smaller than the usual size. If you are going to buy pullets from a hatchery, make sure you specifically ask for them. Otherwise, they might give you straight-run chickens or chickens that have not been sexed to determine their gender. But if you are going to buy pullets at Ohio Amish Territory, don’t be surprised if they give you a one-day-old chick. It’s because they also call them pullets! You should also be aware that some breeds start to lay eggs more than other breeds. Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, Golden Comets, and Leghorns are only some of the breeds that lay eggs early. On the other hand, Barred Rocks, Orpingtons, and Wyandottes are some of the late egg layers.
Are Pullets More Expensive Than the Others?
How much do pullets sell? Generally speaking, pullets are more expensive than cockerels and straight-run chickens. In most cases, the prices are double. For obvious reasons, rare breeds are more expensive. Pullets are expensive because they are considered to be better at laying eggs, and therefore can be a better investment than the others. It’s also more economical to buy started pullets than invest money in raising chicks until they become hens.
What Are Ready-to-lay Pullets?
Ready-to-lay pullets are also referred to as “point of lay” chickens and are already to lay eggs in a few weeks after buying them. However, keep in mind that pullets can also have diseases that they can pass on to your flock. Just make sure they have undergone vaccination. Otherwise, you need to quarantine them first.
Do Pullets Have Delay in Sexual Maturity?
Yes, they do. But don’t worry because it can be an advantage on your part. This is because the delay in their sexual maturity means they are stronger and better for egg production. The increase in the day length usually triggers them to early sexual maturity. Chicks can be naturally exposed to natural daylight if they were hatched between April and August. This is due to the reduction in day length when their growth period is getting closer to the end. Once your pullets already weigh 3 pounds, they are considered to be ready to produce eggs and it’s now time for their light stimulation. The suggested light schedule is 13 hours at 17 weeks, and an additional hour for an additional week. Later, it should be increased by half an hour per day every week until 17 hours of light is reached in 25 weeks and it should be maintained. The recommended schedule of light is between 4:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. A 60-watt bulb works just fine for a coop with an area of 12 x 12 square feet.
What Are the Signs that My Pullets Are Ready to Lay Eggs?
As you probably know by now, chickens will start laying eggs once they are between 16 and 24 weeks old. But aside from that, there are some signs that your pullets are now ready for egg production. Here they are:
- Their comb and wattles will grow bigger and will turn bright red.
- They began to squat if you try to touch them, even if there are no roosters around.
- They become interested in nest boxes. Some of them even sit on them even though there’s no egg on them.
- Their new feathers are cleaner
- They have more appetite
- Their pelvic bones are starting to separate.
What to do Once Your Pullets Start to Lay Eggs
As mentioned earlier, pullets can start laying eggs once they are 16-24 weeks old. During this stage, you should provide them the extra nutrition they need. They also need some privacy so it’s better if you have already prepared their next box ahead of time. To make sure that their eggs are clean, add some dried grass wood chips, and shredded paper.
Pros and Cons of Buying Pullets Instead of Chicks
While you might think buying pullets is better instead of chicks when it comes to egg production, pullets also have some disadvantages. To help weigh things before you decide, here are some of their major pros and cons as compared to chicks.
- Pullets may soon start to lay eggs while chicks will wait for about 6 months.
- Pullets require less care and monitoring than chicks.
- Pullets are usually raised with proper nutrition and are therefore less prone to diseases.
- Pullets have a stronger immune system.
- Great choice if you are only after egg production
- Cost-effective in the long run
- Chicks are more fun to watch and are easier to handle.
- Pullets are way more expensive than chicks.
- Transporting pullets is more costly.
- Pullets can be dehydrated during transport.
- Most pullet breeds are harder to find.
- Because of their age, they are harder to train.
- Despite having proper nutrition, they can still carry diseases that they can pass on to chickens.
In general, choosing between chicks and pullets depends on what you want to achieve. But to sum them up, buy pullets if you want an increase in your egg production. On the other hand, buying chicks if raising chickens is only your hobby.