When Is The Best Time To Get Chickens

When Is The Best Time To Get Chickens

Table of Contents


Raising chickens can be a rewarding endeavor, but choosing the right time to start your flock is crucial for their health and well-being. In this guide, we’ll explore the optimal timing for obtaining chicks, taking into account various factors that can impact their growth and survival.

Reasons for Choosing the Right Time

Vulnerability to Cold Weather and Shipping Stress

Chicks are delicate creatures, particularly susceptible to cold temperatures and the stress of shipping. Selecting the right season for bringing them into your care can significantly impact their chances of thriving.

Advantages of Summer Chicks

Summer chicks have the advantage of avoiding the harsh cold weather that can affect chicks born in winter or early spring. This can lead to stronger and healthier birds as they develop.

Chick Arrival and Initial Care

Mailing Chicks from Hatcheries

Chicks are typically mailed from hatcheries shortly after hatching. This process ensures that they reach their new homes while still young and adaptable.

Winter Chick Minimum Orders

During winter months, hatcheries often require a higher minimum order, sometimes as many as 15 chicks. This minimum aims to ensure the chicks’ survival during colder shipping conditions.

Brooder Setup and Care

Chicks require a warm and safe environment, known as a brooder, upon arrival. Maintaining proper temperature levels in the brooder is essential for their initial growth and development.

Gradually Lowering Temperature

As the chicks grow, it’s crucial to gradually lower the temperature in the brooder. This mimics natural conditions and helps them acclimate to changing environments.

Issues with Starting Chicks in Winter

Outgrowing the Brooder

Chicks born in the winter often outgrow their brooders before spring arrives. This transition can be challenging, as moving them to an unheated coop prematurely can lead to chilling and death.

Winter-Specific Equipment

Raising chicks in winter requires additional equipment and heated space to ensure their comfort and safety. This extra investment can be a consideration for potential chick owners.

Advantages of Starting Chicks in Summer/Fall

Reduced Heat Requirements

Summer and fall chicks benefit from warmer weather, reducing the need for extensive electric heating equipment and energy costs.

Faster Growth Rate

Chicks born during warmer months tend to grow faster due to the favorable temperatures. This can lead to stronger and healthier birds as they mature.

Laying Eggs Before Winter

Chicks raised in the summer have the advantage of beginning their egg-laying journey before the onset of winter. This can lead to a more consistent egg supply throughout the colder months.

Method of Timing the Chicks’ Arrival

Purchasing Options

Chicks can be obtained from local farm supply stores or ordered by mail from hatcheries.

Ideal Hatch Date

Selecting a hatch date in late summer or early fall aligns well with the chicks’ growth trajectory and their ability to handle changing weather conditions.

Proper Brooder Setup

Setting up a suitable brooder with the necessary supplies is crucial for the chicks’ initial well-being.

Temperature and Space Adjustment

Gradually adjusting the brooder’s temperature and available space as the chicks grow is vital for their development.

Super Simple Formula for Timing

Nighttime Temperatures

Choose a date when nighttime temperatures are consistently warm, ensuring the chicks’ comfort and well-being.

Counting Back Weeks

Count back 8 to 10 weeks from the chosen hatch date to determine the ideal time to start raising chicks. This calculation accounts for the developmental needs of the chicks.

Considerations for Different Climates

Climate Variability

The timing for raising chicks can vary based on the specific climate and weather conditions of your region.

Temperature Thresholds

Avoid placing chicks outside if temperatures cannot be maintained above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, as they are still vulnerable to cold.

Raising Chicks in Different Seasons


Spring is the most popular time for raising chicks. Hatchery catalogs offer a wide selection of chicks during this season, and farm stores typically stock chicks and ducklings.


Summer also presents an opportunity for raising chicks, with the added benefit of rare power outages and the availability of shade and water to prevent overheating.


Fall is a manageable season for raising chicks, although hatchery catalogs may have a more limited selection. Chickens raised in fall may better acclimate to hot climates.


Raising chicks in winter requires significant adjustments due to the cold. Ensuring chicks are fully feathered before introducing them to outdoor conditions is crucial for their survival.

General Considerations for Raising Chicks

Early Weeks of Care

Chicks rely on their caregivers for warmth until they are around 8-12 weeks old. Keeping a constant temperature in the brooder is essential for their health.

Power Outages

Power outages during winter can be deadly for chicks. Backup heat and light sources are essential to safeguard their well-being.

Environmental Considerations

Chicks produce dust and constant peeping. Preparing for these factors and being cautious with other pets around the chicks is important.

Shipping Considerations

Chicks may not be shipped safely during the coldest winter months, as the risk to their health increases in extreme weather conditions.

Bonus Step for Bonding with Chicks


Ordering chicks for a week when you have time to bond with them is important, as young chicks imprint on living beings. This early bonding can contribute to their overall well-being and comfort.

When to Place Your Chicks Order

Early Ordering

To secure your chicks for the desired season, it’s recommended to place your order early in the year, preferably in January. Some hatcheries sell out quickly and offer pre-orders as early as November or December.


Q1: When is the best time to start raising chickens?

A: The best time to start raising chickens is typically between March and June in the northern hemisphere. Spring and early summer offer advantages like warmer weather and longer days, which are conducive to the growth and development of chicks.

Q2: Can I buy chicks throughout the year?

A: Yes, most hatcheries sell chicks year-round. However, it’s important to consider the challenges of caring for young chicks during certain seasons, such as winter when colder temperatures can pose a risk to their health.

Q3: Why is early spring recommended for buying chicks?

A: Early spring is recommended for buying chicks because it allows for a long laying season and saves money on feeding over winter. Chicks raised during this time also have a higher chance of laying eggs throughout the winter months.

Q4: Can I buy full-grown hens at any time of the year?

A: Yes, you can buy full-grown hens at any time of the year. However, early spring is often recommended as it provides ample time for them to acclimate to their new environment and integrate into your flock before the colder months.

Q5: Why is spring to summer considered the best time to hatch chicken eggs?

A: Spring into summer is ideal for hatching chicken eggs because it allows the chicks to grow enough to survive the winter months. Fertility of eggs tends to peak in early spring, decreasing during the summer and reaching a low point in early winter.

Q6: Do different chicken breeds have specific laying seasons?

A: Yes, some chicken breeds have specific laying seasons. While most chickens lay eggs year-round, some breeds are more prolific egg layers during the spring due to their natural breeding cycles.

Q7: What are the benefits of raising spring-born chicks?

A: Chicks raised in spring develop better immunity against diseases due to the cooler weather. They can also be moved outside as soon as they’re fully feathered, and they are more likely to lay eggs all winter compared to those raised later in the year.

Q8: How do I determine the best time to order chicks?

A: Follow these steps:

  1. Determine the earliest safe shipping month based on your climate.
  2. Find the ideal month for chicks to move outside, considering temperature requirements.
  3. Select a week for ordering chicks that aligns with safe shipping and move-out times.

Q9: What’s the bonus step for bonding with chicks?

A: Order chicks for a week when you have time to bond with them. Young chicks imprint on living beings, and early bonding can contribute to their overall comfort and well-being.

Q10: When should I place my chicks order?

A: It’s advisable to place your chicks order early in the year, preferably in January. Some hatcheries sell out quickly and offer pre-orders as early as November or December to ensure availability for the desired season.

Q11: Can chicks be raised in different climates?

A: Yes, chicks can be raised in different climates, but the timing and care requirements may vary. It’s essential to consider temperature thresholds and ensure chicks are kept warm and safe, especially during colder months.

Q12: Are there advantages to raising chicks in different seasons?

A: Yes, each season has its advantages:

  • Spring offers a wider selection of breeds and better immunity development.
  • Summer requires less artificial heat, and chicks grow faster.
  • Fall chicks may better acclimate to hot climates.
  • Winter chicks need special attention due to the cold.

Q13: How can I ensure the survival of winter chicks?

A: Fully feather winter chicks before allowing them outside. They require additional heat and equipment to withstand the colder temperatures. Backup heat and light sources are crucial to their survival.

Q14: What general considerations should I keep in mind when raising chicks?

A: Some key points include maintaining a consistent temperature in the brooder, being cautious with pets around chicks, preparing for dust and peeping, and ensuring backup heat/light sources to deal with power outages.

Q15: Can chicks be shipped safely during winter?

A: Chicks may not be shipped safely during extremely cold winter months due to the risk to their health. It’s important to consider their well-being and the weather conditions during transit.

Q16: What’s the significance of imprinting for chicks?

A: Imprinting is the process by which chicks form strong bonds with their caregivers. Ordering chicks for a week when you have time to bond with them can lead to more comfortable and trusting relationships as they grow.

Q17: Can I raise chickens year-round?

A: While it’s possible to raise chickens year-round, it’s important to choose the right season based on your climate, as each season has its own considerations and challenges for raising healthy and thriving chickens.

Q18: Are there any advantages to raising chickens during specific months?

A: Yes, the advantages vary depending on the season. Spring and summer chicks benefit from milder weather and better growth rates, while fall and winter chicks can offer unique benefits if properly cared for during their more challenging months.

Q19: What are the risks of starting chicks in winter?

A: Winter chicks face risks such as cold weather stress, limited available stock in hatcheries, and the need for specialized equipment and heating to ensure their survival and well-being.

Q20: How can I provide the best care for my chicks?

A: Pay attention to temperature regulation, gradual acclimation, proper nutrition, bonding, and protection from predators. Following recommended guidelines and providing a suitable environment will help your chicks thrive.


Selecting the right time to obtain and raise chicks is a crucial decision for any aspiring chicken owner. By considering factors such as weather conditions, temperature requirements, and the chicks’ developmental needs, you can ensure a healthy and successful start to your chicken-raising journey. Whether you choose spring, summer, fall, or even winter, each season presents its own challenges and advantages. With proper planning and care, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a thriving and productive flock of chickens.

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