What are started pullets?
Our pullets are female chickens that have been raised to one of four ages:
- 4-5 weeks old
- 6-8 weeks old
- 9-15 weeks old
- 16+ weeks old
Since pullets typically start to lay at 22 to 28 weeks (depending on the breed and other factors) you can look forward to eggs much sooner from our pullets than if you were to start with baby chicks.
At what age do your pullets typically start to lay?
There are many variables that affect when a particular pullet will start to lay. One is the breed. We offer a number of different breeds, all of which are good layers. Our normal heritage breeds, which usually start to lay at around 26-28 weeks of age, include: Black Australorps, Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, Rhode Island Reds, Wyandottes, Light Brahmas and Cuckoo Marans.
For an earlier laying hen, we also offer several hybrids, each of which was developed to be an excellent egg layer. These include White Leghorns (a white egg layer), and two types of brown egg layers: ISA Browns (also known as Red Stars or Red Comets) and Black Stars. These usually start to lay a few weeks earlier than the heritage breeds, beginning to produce eggs at around 22 weeks. They tend to be very consistent layers.
Please note that because many different variables affect when a particular pullet will start to lay, we cannot make a guarantee as to when your pullets will begin laying.
Where do the chicks come from that you raise?
All of our pullets first arrive at our farm as baby chicks ordered from well-known Murray McMurray Hatchery, Cackle Hatchery or Hoover’s Hatchery. In addition, there are a few breeds that we hatch.
We raise the chicks in our brooders, which supply the warm, draft-free environment that the young chicks need. Then we move them outdoors when they are 6 to 8 weeks old.
All our started pullets have been vaccinated against Mareks and Coccidiosis. Please do not use medicated feed. Feeding medicated feed nullifies the Coccidiosis vaccination and may leave your birds lethargic as they adapt to the new feed. Use only NON-medicated feed with any chickens that you order from us.
Accuracy in Determining Gender
We guarantee a 99% accuracy in sexing – that is, in identifying which chickens are females – and will refund you for your pullet if “she” turns out to be a male.
Definition: What is a Pullet?
A pullet is a female chicken. Typically “pullet” refers to a female chicken that’s less than one year old. Once they reach a year, they’re referred to as hens.
When chicks hatch, typically about half of them will be males and half will be females (in a small hatch, you may have a higher percentage of males or females, but for larger hatches, it’s normally about 50/50). If chicks haven’t been sexed to determine which are males and females, they’re referred to as “straight run chickens” or simply “straight runs.” As they’re sexed, then they will be separated or grouped into males (cockerels) and females (pullets). Sexing at hatcheries is typically about 90% accurate.
We purchase pullets from hatcheries, then we raise them and sell them as started pullets. Since sexing isn’t 100% accurate, we also have some cockerels available at times.
What breeds do you usually have available?
Availability varies during the year, but here is a list of the breeds we generally have available:
- Black Stars
- Black Australorps
- Blue Egg Layers
- Barred Rocks
- Buff Orpingtons
- Cuckoo Marans
- Easter Eggers
- Green Egg Layers
- ISA-Browns (also known as Red Stars or Red Comets)
- Light Brahmas
- Rhode Island Reds
- Silver Laced Wyandottes
- White Leghorns
At various times during the year, we may have additional breeds. I update the website each morning after doing chores, so the website is the most reliable list of what we have or don’t have, (It’s is more accurate than calling me, 🙂 ). To find out if a breed is available, select and add it to your shopping cart. If we don’t have enough to fill your order, it will display a message to that effect.
What is your minimum order of pullets?
For started pullets, there’s no minimum. You can order as few as one pullet.
This is a distinct advantage of buying started pullets of chicks for some people since many hatcheries have a minimum order size for chicks of 15 or 25. Please note that it is more expensive (per bird) for us to ship you only one pullet, so you can save on per-bird shipping costs by ordering more.
What are the advantages of buying started pullets rather than buying chicks?
While day old chicks are a viable option for many people, for others, buying older chickens – ones that are closer to laying age – has some distinct advantages. Here’s a list of advantages, most of which we’ve discussed previously, above:
- No Brooding hassle. While we’ve successfully brought over 50,000 chicks from day old to past the brooder stage, brooding day old chicks can be a bit of a hassle, and it takes some experience to get right. The heat lamp has to be right – not too hot or too cold for the chicks – and the requirements change almost daily. In the first several weeks, some weak chicks expire, so there is the infant mortality to deal with. Day old chicks need to be given water by hand quickly when they first arrive because they may have been without food and water for more than 72 hours. (Watering them by hand on arrival teaches them where to find water.) Brooding requires a heat source, so if electricity is not an option or is limited, brooding will be difficult.
- Shorter wait before you get eggs. Normal heritage breeds take 26-28 weeks before they start to lay eggs. White Leghorns, Black Stars and ISA Browns (aka Red Stars or Red Comets) are ready to start laying at about 22 weeks. If you start with chicks, you’re looking at 5 to 7 months before seeing eggs from your flock. But if you buy an almost ready-to-lay hen from us at 19+ weeks, you’ll get eggs much sooner.
- Reduced sexing errors. Most hatcheries can only guarantee 90% accuracy in determining the sex, or gender, of baby chicks. So if you buy 25 chicks from them, you can expect 2-3 males on average. With started chickens, by 12 weeks, we can guarantee 99% accuracy, and we will give you a refund on your chicken if we have made a mistake.
- Less equipment needed. Because started chickens are much larger, they can be out in the adult world much sooner. They can live independently, at least much more independently than chicks, directly upon arrival.
- Past youthful diseases. Coccidiosis is a disease that most birds are past by 8 weeks old. While Mareks can show up in older birds, our started pullets and point of lay chickens are vaccinated against Mareks.
- Smaller requirement for minimum orders. We ship as few as 2 birds. Many hatcheries have a 15 or 25 chick minimum order.
- Started Pullets are more durable. If you have young children, a started pullet is less likely to be affectionately injured than a day-old chick.
How do you raise your pullets?
Our started pullets are raised first in our brooders. In this environment, we feed them a high quality medicated starter/grower feed for the first 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, they’ve developed an immunity to Coccidiosis, and so the medicated feed is no longer needed, and we switch to a non-medicated grower.
At around 6-8 weeks of age we move them outdoors, out of the brooders. There, we raise some breeds in stationary pens and others in mobile coops. The breeds in stationary pens are let out to free range as they get older. If a breed is not allowed to free range, we give them alfalfa hay and compost as a substitute for their access to grass. All our birds are given grit. To increase the overall health of our flock, we cull weak or sick birds. The size of our average flock during grow out is around 50 birds.
Do you ever have cockerels (young male started chickens) available?
Yes. I do have some cockerels available, though not as many as the pullets. If you want a cockerel of a particular breed, please send me an email (email@example.com) and ask if I have one.
Can you ship live chickens? What is your shipping policy?
We ship within the continental United States. We do not ship to Hawaii, Guam, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands. We also do not ship to other countries or continents.
We ship on Tuesday mornings. Your birds are hand-selected and placed in a shipping box that we designed for optimal safety. For smaller birds we include a plastic cup of “gro-gel” and sliced cucumbers for hydration. On larger birds, we forego the “gro-gel,” and the cucumbers are sufficient. We include enough so that the birds can handle the occasional postal delay.
I will email you a shipping confirmation email with a tracking number once we ship. The subject line for the email will be “Your Claborn Farms order from (date) is complete,” and the tracking number will appear below the order summary.
While we ship Priority Express to all areas outside of Texas, we DO NOT guarantee overnight delivery. We do guarantee live arrival and that you will be satisfied with your birds.
If you have issues with the birds when they arrive, please take a picture and email it to me. Or if we made a mistake in filling your order, please send me a picture. That helps me and my staff avoid making the same type of mistake in the future.
Can I pick up my order of chickens at your farm?
All of our birds can be picked up at our farm north of Waco, TX. During the order checkout, you can select the local pickup “shipping option.”
There is a $10 per order handling fee. Why? Because I have to catch the birds and get the order ready.
Local pickup is by appointment only. Once you place your order, we can exchange emails to set the pickup time. All orders for local pickup must be placed online prior to scheduling a pickup.
Do you have ready to lay hens or laying hens for sale?
Our 19-week and up started pullets are the closest we have to laying age. The hybrid layers will start to lay the earliest. These include the White Leghorn, ISA Brown and Black Sex Link.
As mentioned above, our other (non-hybrid) breeds typically take a few weeks longer before they start to lay.
What are the best breeds for beginners?
I recommend ISA Browns (also known as Red Stars, Red Comets or Red Sex-Links).
Why? Because they are excellent layers, they lay brown eggs (which many people prefer), they start to lay at a younger age than a number of our other breeds, and surprisingly, they’re very easy to tame.
Start feeding them at the same time each day. Avoid overfeeding. That way, when you come out to the coop, they’ll be ready to eat, and they’ll be anticipating your arrival. Move slowly and gently. Once they start to come to you when you bring them food, start holding out some feed in your hand. After a bit, with this kind of training, they’ll be eating out of your hand. This will work with other breeds, too, but I’ve had some of the best results taming the ISA Browns.
Which breed is your best brown egg layer?
The ISA Brown is our most prolific brown egg layer. They start to lay at an early age (not as early as the White Leghorns, but earlier than other breeds) and they tend to lay better than most other breeds into our hot Texas summers.