Populating your yard space with some backyard hens has never been easier, with so many options available for acquiring chickens to raise for meat or eggs.
In this short article, we are going to look at buying straight-run chickens versus pullets. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and we hope our breakdown of this issue helps you make the right choice for your flock.
What is a straight-run?
A straight-run is a brood of day-old chicks that have been selected without being sexed. This means the brood of chicks you end up with could be all male, all female, or a mixture of sexes. Buying straight-run chicks is very much a lottery as you cannot choose the sex of the chicks that you receive.
What are pullets?
On the other hand, a pullet is a young female chicken. They can be any age up to one-year-old and usually are purchased at under 20 weeks, the point of lay. Buying pullets means that you will know the sex of the chicken and are opting for a female laying hen.
Straight-run chickens versus pullets.
Your choice of straight-run chickens or pullets all depends on what you are going to do with your chickens. Depending on your plans, a straight-run could be advantageous:
- Hatcheries make straight-run chicks cheaper because they don’t have the hassle of hand sexing the chicks.
- A mixture of males and females is great for breeding your chickens.
- Straight run chicks are ideal for owners who are not concerned about the sex of the chickens they raise.
- Ownes who want a niche breed or bantams may have to make do with straight runs.
- If you are raising chickens for meat, your straight-run chickens will be on the dinner table before they reach sexual maturity.
- Alternatively, a mixture of sexes can be raised for meat and eggs.
But, with a straight-run, you have got to be prepared for males.
Your male young chickens or cockerels are going to grow into roosters and you need to decide on whether or not you are going to put in the effort to look after these characterful birds.
Adding males into the mix introduces the following issues:
- No eggs: if you are keeping chickens for eggs you will make a loss on feeding a rooster.
- Cockerels are very noisy: roosters know how to make themselves known, they are likely to wake the neighborhood with their guttural version of a dawn chorus!
- Your cockerels could potentially be aggressive: these chickens are very territorial and possessive and will attack anyone and anything that approaches the flock.
- Roosters are very protective of the flock: this can be a positive as your rooster will be vigilant for predators and will attack them.
- Multiple males may fight: a straight-run of all males is a recipe for fights for just about everything in the coop!
- You could end up with unwanted mating: males and females can and will multiply so you had better prepare for the grandbabies. There is also such a thing as overmating…
- Ownership of roosters may be restricted by zoning: Many metropolitan areas ban roosters within their boundaries. You do not want to fall foul of the planning department.
By purchasing pullets you know exactly what to expect.
The demands that come with having roosters mean that many backyard poultry owners only want to keep hens. Pullets take out all the guesswork and are usually much older than day-old chicks. Here are some of the key advantages of opting for pullets.
- Pullets are older hardier birds that are less likely to succumb to disease or be predated than chicks.
- Pullets are larger and easier to handle – they look like a hen.
- Pullets can be acquired at the point of lay, meaning you are ready to start receiving your fresh eggs without waiting 20 weeks for a chick to grow.
- Buying pullets removes the intensive work of caring for very young chicks in a brooder.
Pullets are going to be more expensive.
The convenience and quality of pullets mean that these birds will come at a premium. After all, someone has done all the hard work of raising the chick to the point of being a hen. But for a backyard hen owner who wants to keep life as simple as it can be with a flock of hens, the extra cost proves well worth it.
For most hobbyist hen keepers or those looking to keep hens as pets, straight-runs may prove too much of a gamble for most owners. If you are looking for a flock of hens and fresh eggs on tap, pullets are the way to go!