What Is A Pullet Chicken

Everything You Need to Know About Pullets: From Raising to Care

A pullet is a young hen of 17-18 weeks or under one year of age. You can use the term pullet to refer to the meat-producing chicken or laying hen. But more often, pullet indicates a laying hen. For the first time, the pullet starts shedding its young feathers in the first year. 

Pullet chickens remain in the growing stage, though some flock owners also consider them full-grown adult hens in weight and size. Typically, a hen under one year of age is known as a pullet. However, before attempting to raise the pullet chickens, you need to know what it means, how to raise it and how to take care of it. 

Now, in this article, we will describe all these. So, don’t waste a minute and keep reading! 

What Is A Pullet Chicken?

Pullets refer to young chicks aged less than one year or, more specifically, 17-18 weeks. 

Buying chicks is definitely the most important job in starting your journey of raising chicken. In the case of buying chicks, you have two options. You can purchase the chicks straight out of the hatchery that is not sexed. Or you can buy the specific sexed chicks, also called pullets. 

You should pick the pullets if you want rapid egg production from the chicks. Pullets are already identified. You can avoid purchasing male chicks unless you want to get the fertile eggs to hatch. Male chicks take up huge space and consume more feed. Therefore picking the hens is more profitable.

Best management practices and a sound feeding system are essential to produce healthy chicks. Therefore, when starting a chicken coop or managing it, you must buy the right chick type. The best choices are commercial brown egg-laying strains and minor white Leghorn strains. 

These pullets type are the best option for egg production purposes. For small-flock production, the more satisfactory option is Leghorns. However, you can also consider raising both types of pullets. The benefits of raising this pullet are some are good for egg production, and some are best for meat production. We are not recommending picking the dual-purpose pullet because these are not best for any purpose.

Many hatcheries or farms sell 17 weeks old ready-to-lay pullets. You can purchase them. Just after receiving of few weeks, these pullets will start laying eggs.

Unique Facts Of Pullet

You can quickly identify the pullet chicken by seeing its unique physical characteristics. Usually, the pullets are the entire coat of new shiny features as they just shed the younger feathers. The new feathers are glossy and tight, and there is no sign of baldness or broken feathers. 

The comb and wattle of pullets are crucial features that show the pullet’s age. Usually, the fully developed hen is more aged, dull, fully grown, or spotty. But the pullets are also full but smaller in size and tend to be bright red. 

Moreover, the pullets have a less developed and smaller comb and wattle. The better-colored legs of pullets are also clean and smooth. While the egg-laying, older hens have faded-colored legs with swollen joints and raised scales. 

The pullet’s feathers are bright pink, clean, and even glossy. On the contrary, the feathers of older hens tend to be white to grey and dry. The vents of pullet birds are clean, with very little or no poppy material around them. 

Pelvic bones are the other feather of a pullet chicken. The pullet’s pelvic bones are closer than the hen’s bone. The bones that line around their vent are close and tight also. One of the most distinguishable features is the pullet chicken is curious, energetic, busy, and lively. It’s the young chick’s nature. 

The pullets in a new environment become fearful and excitable very quickly. But in this case, the older hens tend to be more settled and milder in the new environment. Finally, one more thing to consider as the feature is weight. The pullets have less weight than the hens. 

Pullet Identification Guide

You must choose the right types of chicks and pullets for efficient egg or meat production. Only the well-bred and healthy chicks under proper care make good layers. The best layer hens are the small-bodies white Leghorns. These hens produce a lot of eggs. However, some commercial brown egg-laying chickens are also available compared to the White Leghorns.

We recommend you raise some broiler crosses for meat and egg-type pullets to produce both eggs and meat. Compared to dual-purpose pullets selecting these mixed pullets are better and more profitable. While purchasing layers, we suggest you order the sexed pullet chicks. You can collect healthy pullets of chicks from commercial hatcheries or small farms.

Housing Of Pullets

The housing needs of pullets for the late spring and summer are minimal. You can keep your flock in a small building or coop, which will meet the chick’s floor space needs. After brooding, in a yard or fenced range, you can raise the pullets. But you need to ensure the protection of the chicks with a covered shelter.

You can buy the feeding, brooding, and watering equipment for your birds from the local farm or feed supply store. Moreover, if you want you can prepare and make some equipment yourself. Sometimes the local coop owners or farmers sell their used equipment. You can buy that too. From where you buy the equipment that’s not that much important. But the most crucial fact is before introducing any equipment to the chicks, ensure you disinfect it.

You can use roosts for pullets with or over six weeks of age. The chicks use the roost to rest the night, and it is a perch. You can use the 2-inch rounded non-metal materials roost and place them 12-15″ apart. Slant the roosting rack 24″ high on the wall above the floor. Moreover, over a dropping pit on the screened platform, you can place it also.

Feeding Of Pullets

For small flock owners, the best option for feeding your pullets is the complete feeds of a nearby local feed store. You can use the local grains mixture with proper commercial concentrate to get good mixing facilities. To get good mixing facilities, follow the local feed supplier’s directions.

Generally, a starter mash is fed for the first 6-9 weeks. You must use a tray or chick box lids to place the feed for the first few days. Once the chicks arrive at your home, make an arrangement and ensure enough water for the chicks. At first, at the hopper, per chick, you must provide a feeder space of 1 line inch. Then when the chicks become two weeks old, increase the feeder space to 2 inches.

You can provide the developer or grower mash when the chicks become eight weeks old. Then you can increase per growing pullet’s feeder space to 3-4 inches. Once the pullet’s age is 20 weeks, they start laying. Then you can use the mash to feed them.

Fifteen inches hanging tube-type feeders can feed about 30 birds. Fill the hopper half full so that the chicks waste less feed. Moreover, to meet the size of the bird, you can adjust the feeder size or height. For your growing chickens, you should have three dimensions of the hopper in your collection.

Water Requirement Of Pullets

For the first two weeks, for per 5- chicks, provide the 1-gallon water fountain. With the increasing number of weeks, you need to increase the Waterer size and number. Per 100 birds, you can give the watering space of 40 inches. Or if you use the fountain, then per 10 birds, you have to ensure a fountain of 1-gallon capacity.

To avoid wet litter, it’s wise to use the platform under the Waterer. Automatic Waterer, even with the small flocks, dramatically saves your labor. Always ensure clean and fresh water access to the chicks and pullets.

Keeping The Pullets Healthy

It’s crucial to keep the pullets happy and healthy to get more outstanding results in the future. So, to keep the pullets healthy, do the following.

1. Keep Your Birds In Isolation

  • Keep your chicks separate from the other animals, wildlife, or pets
  • Limit the entry of several visitors in your poultry house
  • Make sure there are no rodents in your flock area
  • Use the screens to keep the wild chicks out of your poultry house.

2. Control The Parasites

  • The first step is to rotate the range areas and yard, to control the parasites.
  • And ensure each year, the pullets are not on the same ground.
  • Use the low-level coccidiostat drug in the chick’s feed during your bird’s growing period or brooding.
  • Routinely clean the housing area of your flock
  • Check the hens occasionally and ensure there are no mites and lice there.

3. Give Vaccination To The Birds

  • Vaccinate the chicks in your hatchery for the Marek disease
  • Obtain the pullets from the typhoid-clean stock
  • Also, to save your birds from Newcastle bronchitis and illness, use the vaccination program
  • According to the hen’s age, separate them and take care of them. Especially first take care of the younger birds.

4. Clean The House Routinely

  • Daily and periodically clean the Waterer and also use the sanitizing solution to sanitize them.
  • Remove the wet and caked spots from the litter and keep them in good condition
  • Always add fresh litter when needed
  • Prevent the ammonia build-up within the coops by keeping the cage out of moisture and providing good ventilation.

5. Preventing Cannibalism

Often the laying and growing flocks suffer from the cannibalism problem. Once it becomes starts in the flock, it’s hard to control. However, the following factors can cause cannibalism. So keep your chicks safe from these.

  • Poor ventilation
  • Crowding
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Too much light
  • The blood appears on the injured birds
  • Limited eating or drinking space
  • Idleness

Just by taking proper care of your chicks, you can control most of the above factors. You can use the pick-paste remedy for the small flock if the problem occurs and goes out of hand. Moreover, you can get a permanent solution from beak trimming.

Many hatcheries at one day of age of your chicks will beak-trim the chicks on your request. At any period of your bird, you can beak trim them. But when the pullets are preparing for production, you should avoid beak-trimming at this time.

Also Read: How To Choose The Right Materials For A Long-Lasting And Easy-to-Maintain Chicken Coop

How Much Time Pullet Takes To Become Mature

You may get excited by thinking that the pullet will soon begin production as it matures quickly. But it’s better if the pullet’s sexual maturity comes in delay. The delayed maturity will allow the pullets to grow better before producing eggs. The pullets get sexual maturity early due to the increasing day length.

If April and August is the hatching time of the chicks, then they will get the natural day length to become mature. During the growth period’s latter part, the size of the day goes down. After March, it’s better to start raising the chicks because to brood them; you will need less heat.

Once the weight of your chick becomes 3 pounds, the birds are ready to produce eggs. At this time, the birds begin light stimulation also. The suggested schedule for light stimulation are:

  • 13 hours at 17 weeks
  • 14 hours at 18 weeks
  • 15 hours at 19 weeks

How to Care Pullets When Lay Eggs?

If you take care of your pullets, within 16-24 weeks old, the pullets will start laying eggs. However, once the pullets start laying, you must ensure extra nutrition. You must select the right feed to provide the perfect nutrition for your birds. For pullets from 18-30 weeks, we suggest you give the 18 percent layer ration. 

Whether your pullet is laying hen or not, you can tell that by following the ways below: 

  • The bird’s age will be between 16-24 weeks. 
  • You will see full-grown birds with new and clean feathers. 
  • Swollen and red wattles and combs of chickens 
  • The pelvis bones of the hens will start to separate. By holding the bird’s feet or cradling the hen, you can tell whether it has happened or not. 

After looking for all these symptoms, if you find the pullet is going to lay eggs, you should give some privacy to her. Before your chicken lays the first egg, you must place the nest boxes in the perfect position. Line the nest boxes with wood chips, straw, shredded paper, and dried grass to ensure the eggs remain clean. 

Using The Eggs Of Pullet

Compared to the mature hen’s eggs, the eggs of pullets will be smaller. In commercial production, for different purposes, you can use small eggs. Small eggs have less value in the market as customers prefer extra-large or large eggs. 

Therefore it’s better to use those small eggs for other purposes. But the pullet eggs are richer in flavor and have more yolk. Therefore many chefs also look for these types of eggs. Compared to the larger eggs, the cooking time of the pullet’s small egg is less. Therefore be careful in cooking these eggs. 

Why Should You Select A Pullet Chicken?

When the pullet chicken becomes ready to lay eggs, they are at the transition into a full-fledged hen. Their most-productive egg-laying year is the first year. Once the pullet becomes a hen, they start laying larger but fewer eggs. 

But at the early stage, the pullets lay smaller eggs rapidly and consistently. Pullets remain in a growing phase. And can fulfill both your egg and meat production purposes. Therefore you should buy a pullet. 

Reasons For Choosing Pullets Over Chicks

Many coop owners often ask why they should choose pullets over chicks. There are several reasons you can consider picking pullets instead of chicks. The first apparent reason is you have to provide food and shelter to the chicks until they become pullets. 

But while picking a pullet already, you are getting a grown hen. However, you also need to spend time with the pullet until they reach the egg-laying stage. Practically pullets are ready to lay their very first egg within a few weeks. 

Moreover, the pullets are almost adult hens. Therefore they are less accident-prone, and they need less fuss. Furthermore, pullets are more resilient and hardier when it comes to their health. 

Another vital difference between chicks and pullets is that they require extra care in the absence of their mother. At the same time, pullets are grown hens and need their mother or any extra care. You may need to arrange special feed, shelter, and space for your chicks, but pullets don’t need such things. 

If you want to sustain the flock, you must select the pullet over the chicks. Even though you feel that the chick cost less than pullets. The pullet’s cost is higher than the chicks because the seller needs to adjust the rising cost of the bird. 

While introducing a new pullet to the existing flock, you must keep a few things in mind. The first one is to be concerned about the danger of viruses and diseases. New chickens are not clean and free of disease. Therefore here, you need to be extra cautious. 

Sometimes pullets carry diseases like Bronchitis, Avian Pox, Marek, etc. Therefore, while bringing new pullets, don’t introduce them to the new flock all of a sudden. Instead, wait for some time and keep them in quarantine. At least four weeks should be the quarantine time. So before introducing the pullets to the larger community of birds, maintain some safety precautions. 

How To Take Care Of Your Pullet Chicks

Strict segregation is one of the main strategies you must follow in raising and caring for your pullet chickens. Your small hen flock will develop a better sense if you introduce the new pullets to the larger community. But in the case of a larger pullet population, you need to follow a more innovative strategy. The smarter policy that you can adopt is segregation. And you need to be more stringent in managing your pullets. 

You need to measure your pullet’s health regularly to increase engagement. Moreover, you will get a clear insight into your chicken’s health. The awareness will greatly help to mitigate any problem. Weekly you can measure the weight of your chicken to see the improvement. In the case of a bigger flock, you need to measure the weight when they approach to lay an egg. Usually, when the chickens become 2-3 weeks old, the big farms weigh their pullet. 

Ensure your chicken is getting enough water every time they need it. And twice a day, you can feed your pullets. It’s also important to check the piping and water plumbing to ensure they are working well. 

Another essential task is to ensure vaccines for your chickens. According to the need of your flock, plan a vaccination schedule for them. If any bird becomes sick, immediately separate it from the flock. Then find out the reason why the pullet gets sick and solve them quickly to save your entire flock. 

Also Read: What To Feed A Chicken With A Broken Beak?

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Pullet Chickens Live? 

In general, the pullet chicken produces eggs consistently for 3-4 years. And many chickens live for 6-8 years. But as they become old, the egg size, production, and shell quality decrease over time every year. When the pullet’s egg production capacity decreases over time, most commercial chicken owners keep them for 2-3 years. 

Can a Pullet Chicken Lay Eggs?

Yes! The pullet lays eggs sometimes between their 16th-24th weeks of age. 

Do Pullets Lay Every Day? 

Yes! Happy and healthy pullets around 18 weeks of age lay every day. In the first years, the pullets can lay nearly 250 eggs. 

Final Thoughts

So after going through the above-detailed article, hopefully, now you know what the pullet is and how to raise and take care of it. Pullets are not fully grown hens, and they don’t lay eggs but will produce eggs soon. Pullets are easier to raise. Therefore it’s the best option to keep and maintain in your coop. Even you can raise the pullet for both egg and meat production. 

Considering all the factors, you can easily decide whether pullets or fully grown hens will be more profitable or not. And take decisions wisely. For any further help, comment in the comment section. 

Raising Chickens 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Get started in chicken raising with our expert-approved guide. From building a coop to hatching eggs, you’ll learn all the essential information you need to know. Topics include selecting breeds, caring for chicks, increasing egg production, and more. We also cover chicken feeds, behavior, disease prevention, and essential vitamins and minerals. Follow this guide for a successful and fulfilling experience.

Want to learn more about chicken raising? Check out our beginner’s guide below for even more tips and information:

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