Episode 146

Chicks or Hens?

Chicks or hens? What is the better option to get started with chickens? That is a question many wanna-be chicken owners are asking themselves. In this podcast, Marianne will explore the pros and cons of both options of starting out on the wonderful adventure of chicken ownership.

chicks or hens

chicks or hens



But before diving into the subject, Marianne is sharing listener tips to this question:

How to Stay Cool in a Heatwave without Airconditioning?

Marianne posted that question in the Facebook group of the Sustainable Living Podcast. You all are invited to join us.

Here are the tips!

Lorien Silverleaf Evaporative cooling; wet linen scarf.


Jacqueline Kim 1. A fan. 2. Cold showers to cool off. Cold showers take two minutes or so but make such a big difference. You have to jump into it. It is shocking at first (prepare to yelp), but delicious after. 3. Don’t cook meals requiring more than one stove top fire at a time (so nothing that requires the oven coming on). We have been eating all manners of salads, gazpachos, and drinking a lot of ice cold infusions (of cut cucumber or oranges or mint). Sangrias too.


Britt Cool Yep, fans. Sit right in front of them


Lorien put a scarf on the fan


Sally Hovey Wet clothes and a fan


Karl Aldinger If you can spare some water, misting jets on fans drop temps in our greenhouse, for example.


Trevor Presley Outdoor shower


Darlene Sweetwood Swimming pool!


Emi Lio Staying in the shade


Tiny Farmer SD Plant a shade tree! it’s at least 10 degrees cooler under our Chinese elm tree.


Thank you all so much for sharing your knowledge and ideas!!

On to Chickens

chicks or hens

We have big elm tree in our chicken area. We cut it in winter by pollarding it. That basically means that the tree is cut flat at the height you want it to start growing in the spring. In the winder, there is only the stump, but we let it grow in summer to provide a lot of shade for the girls.

This episode is inspired by a conversation I had with Nate on Steemit. His username is @nateonsteemit. Look him up if you are on the platform. We were talking about if it is better to start with chicks or hens. And now,you have it. And episode dedicated to this question.

First, a disclaimer. I am not expert – but I have taken courses from the University of Edinburgh and from Pat Foreman. That said, make sure you do your own research.

I have great news for you all. While looking up the University of Edinburgh to link the information to this post, I found out that the course I took is starting again!! I loved it and am considering taking it again. We always gather more information after having more experience.

The chicken course is part of their MOOC – Massive open online courses.

Sign up here:


The course will start on August 20th, 2018

You will learn about:

  • Meat and egg chicks
  • Heritage chicken – dual breeds
  • Hatcheries
  • History
  • Husbandry
  • and so much more


I have also taken courses by Patricia Foreman

She is the author of City Chicks and many other books. She teaches online courses and has founded a non-profit dedicated to educating people about the joys of backyard chickens.

Chicken and You courses:


Backyard Chicken Keeper Certification Course

Watch for a podcast with Patricia Foreman in the near future.


Always remember the wise words of  Joel Salatin who was a guest on our podcast: “Beware of experts that are new to the subject.”

Always do your own research and make sure that it is right for you!

chicks or hens

Getting chickens – Baby Chicks or Adult Hens?

Chicks or Hens? The answer is the typical Permaculture answer: It depends…

Let’s explore


Benefits of adult chickens:

  • Eggs right away
  • Less sensitive
  • Less work in raising pullets
  • You know that you get a hen

Possible problems:

  • Possible exposure to disease
  • Don’t know how old exactly
  • Don’t know what they ate – possible GMO and antibiotics
  • More expensive to acquire

Possible free ways to get the first flock:

Backyard chicken folks that are tired of chicken

Egg farm that typically culls chicken when about 1 year laying.


Benefits of baby chicks:

  • So cute!!!!!
  • Less exposure to possible diseases
  • Can be handled frequently and became very tame
  • Know what they are being fed
  • They are so cute – chicken therapy
  • Less expensive to buy – start-up costs
  • More varieties available



From hatchery – direct, but will be shipped – stress (3 days without food)

From a Feed store – more exposure to possible diseases, more stress – shipping, lots of chicks, then transport home.



  • More work – but they are so cute!!!
  • They are sensitive – might diechicks or hens
  • It takes 6 to 8 month to get the first egg
  • Might be lots of males


Hatching your own:

  • Need equipment – can be borrowed
  • Needs care and attention for the 3 weeks
  • Needs a space for the hatcher


Watching a baby chick hatch is an amazing experience and a great teaching moment for kids.


You will get at least half of the hatch as little boys. They are cute in the beginning but turn into loud and obnoxious teenagers before you know it.

You need a plan what to do with them.


Set up for babies

chicks or hens

Using a heat lamp


You need to keep them warm – mostly free of drafts.

They grow fast and need more and more space.

Aspen bedding is recommended – not pine shavings or newspaper.

Better to have bottom heat than heat lamps. Lamps can fall and cause fires. Also, light all night long might not be the best thing.


Learn chicken language

Best: Mommy gets broody and does all the work 🙂

I hope this gives a few answers to the question: chicks or hens?

Joel Salatin: Farmer-Author-Speaker

Heritage Chicken- What, Why & How

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