We have been debating on and off about getting chicks this year. There are so many reasons to do and just as many reasons to sit out a year. We are approaching the end of chick days, so if we don’t buy some soon, then the decision will soon be out of our hands.
One of the reasons we need to consider new birds is predators. Last year we lost a number of hens to a fox. We have not lost to predators every year, but it is always a possibility. We could not take that same kind of predation again this year. We have already seen a large fox this year. Our hens already are not doing as much free ranging as they would like because of this. We are keeping them in the run more hours and close to the house when they are free ranging. It is not a guarantee that they will not meet an unfortunate demise, but it does decrease the odds of them being fox dinner.
Another reason for thinking about adding some youngsters to our flock is some of our hens are past peak laying and if we don’t retire them to freezer camp this year, they will only be good for stock. I hate to be wasteful. It seems to me that is almost disrespectful to not fully utilize the bird. When they get beyond tough it settles wrong with me, it seems that I have been less than a good steward. You want to rotate out your heavy laying hens every 18-24 months if you hope to eat them.
One of the reasons to not get chicks is we would get to put off one of the worst parts of backyard chicken wrangling, butchering. I would so love to put them in a cage haul them off to be butchered and come back neat little hens in a plastic bag, but it doesn’t work that way. It one of those things that is a reminder to me of the hard work that goes into putting food on our table.
Another reason to not get chicks is I just plain old don’t like the part of raising baby chicks. They are sensitive to cold, drafts and require lots of work to get them to the laying age. Some people love this part, to me it is just one big hassle, I’d rather skip. There is a period where we are running two separate flocks and two separate sets of chores for each of them.
The local ranch supply will be getting birds in only for a couple more weeks, so we will soon be making the road trip to get some chicks or by procrastination the decision will be made for us. Either way is ok with us this year.