Chirp chirp chirp. The soft little chirping of chicks is so adorable. Happy little chirping all the time. And when they sleep? Even cuter. They pass out, sometimes they even look dead. I’ve poked many chicks in the past to doublecheck they were still breathing only to startle them awake. Oops. Those startled chirps aren’t so happy. Maybe I should’ve put a little mirror in front of their beak to see if it fogged up. Hmm…I’ll remember that for next time.
Chicks are adorable but what if you really just want a hen to lay eggs? How long will it take to get from the chick to the laying hen? That can take a bit of time. What will you be getting yourself into? Let’s start at the beginning.
“Chicks Days” at Tractor Supply: the happiest time of the year for me and plenty of other crazy chicken ladies out there! You walk in, everyone is so happy, you hear the happy chirps coming from somewhere in the store. Frantically searching, you finally find them. All is right in the world.
They’re so cute and you just have to have them. By the time you get them from the local feed store they’re between 1-3 days. As they get older, they start to offer them for a discount too! $1 chicks, anyone?
You’ll need the basics like I discussed in this article. Chicks are pretty needy at this stage. So maybe you are now counting the days until the chick lays an egg. So how long do you have to wait?
The answer? It depends. Ugh, don’t you hate when you don’t get a straight answer? Me, too. So, I’m not going to leave you hanging but it really does depend. The breed is the deciding factor.
On average chickens will begin laying eggs about 5-6 months old. This will seem like an eternity! Especially if you decided to get chicks at a couple days old. Because it will depend on the breed below are a list of breeds and their average laying age so you can decide which chicken breed is right for you.
- Plymouth Rock: 16-20 weeks
- Barnevelder: 28 weeks
- Australorp: 16-18 weeks
- Naked Neck: 6 months
- Orpington: 6 months
- Silkie: 7-9 months
- Rhode Island Red: 18-20 weeks
- Leghorn: 16-18 weeks
- Frizzle: 22 weeks
- Belgian d’Uccle: 5-7 months
- Polish: 5 months
- Cochin: 5 months
- Sussex: 20 weeks
- Araucana: 5-6 months
- Wyandotte: 18-22 weeks
- Faverolle: 6-7 months
- Maran: 7-9 months
As you can see there’s a wide range of ages that different breeds will begin laying. If you are wanting chickens for egg laying purposes specifically then you’ll want to choose a breed from above that will lay sooner than others.
Many of your local chicken breeders will sell older pullets, which is a great option if you’d prefer to skip the chick phase. That means more ROI (return on investment) because you will have less feed cost before they start producing.
I chose this option when buying my Marans, although they do cost more since the breeder had to incur the cost to raise them from chicks. For example, a chick will cost up to about $5 each whereas an older pullet that is close to or of laying age will cost you around $10-30 each.
So how much will a chick cost you from day old to lay old? Well like I said it depends, but they average 1/2lb to 1lb of feed a week per bird. When they are very young, they eat closer to 1/4lb a week per chick slowly increasing to approximately 1lb when they reach a few months old.
We personally feed non-gmo, organic feed pellets with a mixture of wild bird seed and supplement with bugs. Since I have around 100 chickens, I go through about 110lbs of feed a week and spend $94 every two weeks. Crazy, right? That breaks down to $6.71 per day for my flock which adds up quickly. There are cheaper options for sure and we plan to begin making our own feed so we can maintain quality while also trying to save a bit on feed costs.
Another way to save money on feed is to grow your own feeder bugs like crickets or mealworms. They are very low maintenance and low cost to raise which helps to counteract buying store bought feeds. I’ll talk more about this in a later post so stay tuned.
So, there you have it! Like I mentioned earlier there are a lot of variables when it comes to costs of raising chicks to laying hens but now you have a better understanding of how you can cut costs by choosing chicken breeds that will lay sooner, buying laying hens instead of chicks and feed options.
Which option will you choose? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy Homesteading & Stay Cuckoo!