Started pullets are female chickens that are at least a few weeks old.
Different suppliers sell them at different ages. It’s common to find started pullets anywhere from 4-5 weeks old on up to several months old.
If you’re new to raising chickens, started pullets are an excellent way to start your flock, for several reasons.
Advantages of Buying Started Pullets
One, is that you don’t need a brooder. If the weather is sufficiently warm outdoors (wait until spring or summer to buy chickens) you can move them into an outdoor coop right away. In most cases, you won’t supplemental heat.
Second, it’s a little easier. While it’s not difficult to raise baby chicks, they are somewhat fragile. They do a lot of growing in the first 4-5 weeks. By the time you get them as started pullets, they’re stronger and have a better chance of surviving and thriving.
Third, it will save you a little time on your journey to get eggs. You’ll be a month closer than you would if you started with chicks.
Fourth, there’s less of a chance you’ll inadvertently end up with a rooster by accident. While sexors (the people who tell whether newly hatched chicks are male or female) are fairly accurate, most hatcheries will say “our sexing accuracy is 90%” or similar. This means there’s about a 10% chance that each of your hens will at some point start crowing and never lay eggs. While mistakes happen with started pullets, it’s much less likely that there will be sexing errors, and you may be able to get reimbursed if there are.
Disadvantages of Started Pullets
Are there any downsides to buying started pullets?
Yes. There are a few.
One is cost. The extra time, effort and feed that goes into raising those chicks up to 4-5 weeks old will result in higher cost to you. Chicks are a lot cheaper than started pullets. But for small orders of chicks, the cost difference won’t be as large because you’ll likely need special “small order shipping” if you order only a few chicks. (That means that some sort of heat pack will be included to keep them warm).
Another disadvantage is that you won’t have as wide a selection to choose from. There are literally hundreds of different breeds of chickens available. With started pullets, you’ll see a smaller selection (maybe 20-30 varieties). Of course, most of the popular varieties will be available, but if you’re wanting something more exotic, you may not be able to find it as a started chicken.
Where to buy started pullets?
My preferred supplier is Claborn Farms. I’ve know the owner, Joe Claborn, for many years and have been out to his farm many times. Joe is meticulous and does all that he can to produce strong, healthy chickens.
Top choices for buying started pullets: