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Wondering what straight run chickens are? Here’s everything you need to know!
Want to get some chickens for eggs, meat or both? If you are thinking of buying chickens, one option for saving money is to purchase straight run chicks. But are they right for you? Read on to learn more!
Are Straight Run Chickens Right For You?
Are you thinking about adding some chickens to your life? If you don’t want to use an incubator like this to hatch eggs, you can order day-old chicks instead!
If you are purchasing chickens for the first time, you may be uncertain about some of the terms you see used in online hatcheries (like Rochester Hatchery in Canada or Cackle Hatchery in the States).
Not only that, one thing you will definitely notice is that there can be a wide variety of prices for the exact same kind of chicken. And one of the cheapest options available is the Straight Run Chicken.
But what exactly does that mean? And is that a good option for you?
What Are Straight Run Chickens?
Straight run chickens are chicks ordered from the hatchery unsexed. This means that when it comes to male and female chicks, you don’t know what you are going to get. You are going to get a mix of male and female chicks.
In theory, you may expect this to mean that you’d receive a 50/50 mix of males or females. But the reality is that it is quite possible you will receive a much larger ratio of one over the other.
This “unknown variable” is exactly why straight run chickens are more economical than pullets. (Although cockerels – baby roosters – are usually the cheapest option of all.)
Straight Run Chickens Vs Pullets
Although they are one of the most economical options, straight run chickens are not the optimum choice for everyone.
Pullets – young hens – are vastly preferred by most chicken owners, for the simple fact that they are the ones that lay eggs.
Not only that, but if you live in a city or town, you have to comply with the ordinances of your community. And while many communities allow for a certain number of “backyard chickens”, almost none of them allow roosters, due to their noise.
Roosters crowing loudly in the early morning tend to make the neighbors cranky.
Therefore, if you live within a community, be sure to check the rules of your city or town before purchasing chickens, and when you purchase, you will likely only want to buy pullets.
However, if you live in the country and there are no rules in your area against roosters, straight run chickens may be a great option for you.
In this case, it mostly depends on how much room you have, and what you want to do with the chickens you raise.
When Should I Order Sexed Chickens Instead of Straight Run?
If you have limited space and are wanting chickens primarily for eggs, then you will most likely want to limit your flock to a specific ratio of hens to roosters.
If this is the case, ordering sexed chicks will allow you to get exactly what you want. And with cockerels often being the least expensive of all, you may actually save a little money ordering this way.
Interestingly enough, ordering sexed chickens – cockerels, in this case – may also be the best option if you are looking to raise chickens for meat instead of eggs.
Male chickens get larger and meatier than hens, making them a better choice in this case. And with no hens to fight over, they should get along just fine growing up together in their all-male flock.
With the exception of broilers (which are specifically bred to raise for meat), male chicks are generally the least expensive to buy, and therefore, may save you money.
When Are Straight Run Chickens the Best Choice?
If you have a lot of space for chickens (including enough space to keep separate flocks) and wish to raise chickens for both eggs and meat, ordering straight run chickens is definitely a great way to get your flock started.
But it will also require a bit more planning and hands-on labor to work. Because you will first have to deal with any unwanted roosters you receive, possibly in large number.
You will want to have a separate area or chicken coop for any excess roosters you are planning to raise for meat birds. As long as they are kept separate from the females, they should get along fine.
Can you kill and butcher the chickens yourself? If not, you’ll need to take them elsewhere for processing. Either way is fine, but you’ll want to decide before your little chicks become mature roosters.
You’ll also need to have a plan long term for dealing with any fertilized eggs your hens lay.
Once you have the details sorted out for dealing with any males you don’t want as part of your main flock, you’ll be better prepared to order straight run chicks.
Do Straight Run Chickens Lay Eggs?
Adult hens lay eggs. This includes any hens you receive when you order straight run chickens.
What Breed Are Straight Run Chickens?
Some breeds of chicken are easy to sex shortly after birth because they look different. Sexed link chicks usually have differences in their color.
Breeds like the Cream Legbar are considered “auto-sexing” because the male and female hatchlings naturally look different from birth. Some are “sex-linked”, which means that they are cross-bred based on certain genetic traits.
This creates males and females that look different – from different shades of yellow to different speckle patterns.
Technically, the term “straight run chicken” applies only to whether or not chicks have been sexed yet. This means that every breed that exists could be sold this way.
However, you are most likely going to find unsexed chicks in breeds where it is difficult to determine the gender. The process of doing so requires additional personnel.
These are experts at sexing chickens – usually through a difficult technique called vent sexing. This means that the hatchery spends more money paying these experts for their time sexing baby chicks.
In this case, the hatchery is more likely to offer the option of buying straight run or unsexed chickens. They save money – and so do you.
Ultimately, you are the only one who can determine if straight run chickens are right for you. If you have limited space, buying sexed chicks is a better option.
But if you have the space for a large free-range flock of chickens on your homestead, you may find you prefer to only order straight run chickens when you need to increase the size of your flock.
Straight run chickens are unsexed chicks – be sure that is what you want before ordering!
Learn more about raising chickens:
How to set up a brooder for chicks and what you need to have ready before they come!
All the info you need to raise chicks for meat in 8 weeks!
Want to learn about raising Heritage Chickens? Help keep the older hardier heritage breeds going.
Want to find out which are The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow?
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originally published November, 2021; latest update January, 2023