Started Pullets Care Guide

Thanks for purchasing starter pullets from My Pet Chicken! We hope you find this guide helpful. Please contact our customer service team with any questions or concerns.

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Learn how to best care for your new started chicken pullets.


Before they arrive: follow these steps to prepare for your new pullets prior to their arrival:   

  • CoopYou will need an appropriately-sized coop and run with several inches of pine shavings or other safe bedding material on the floor of the coop. (Please don’t use cedar shavings! Cedar is irritating to chicken eyes and lungs.) Also, if there were birds in the coop or run prior to the arrival of your pullets, make sure to sanitize and thoroughly dry all areas before your new pullets arrive.
  • Feeding your chickensA few days before your birds arrive, you’ll want to purchase chicken feed. We recommend you use “Starter,” “Grower,” or “Developer” mash or crumbles. Please do not use “scratch” or cracked corn; they haven’t enough protein for growing birds. In addition, try not to offer too many “treats,” either. Snacks and treats are great for diversity and entertainment, but the majority of their diet should be a well-balanced, “complete” chicken feed like the ones mentioned above. 
  • WatererChickens are gravity drinkers, which means they cannot “suck” water up. Instead, they scoop it up and tilt their heads back to swallow. You may purchase a traditional or nipple-type waterer. 
  • Dust bath area: Chickens bathe in dust to remove old preen oil from their feathers and to keep themselves free of mites, lice and ticks. They’ll usually pick a dry, rootless area of the yard in which to loosen the soil and immerse themselves. If you don’t plan to give your birds access to the outdoors. or if their run has a wire floor, you’ll want to add an artificial dust bath area and include a mix of dirt, fireplace ash, and other helpful additives like Diatomaceous Earth.

Pullet Arrival Day: On the day your new girls are due to arrive, make sure to clear your schedule so you can monitor and care for them. 

    • Opening the box: When you open your peeping package, keep in mind that your new pullets have just endured a bewildering trip. They may be spooked--and they’ll definitely be hungry and thirsty.  Have your coop ready, complete with feed and water, and immediately place them inside it. (There’s more on feed, water, and the ideal coop setup, below.) 
    • Sugar water, just in case: Have a solution of sugar water ready to feed your birds (one tablespoon of sugar in one cup of warm water)--but only offer it if you have a bird who seems lethargic. It will help perk her up! Offer the water solution every 10/15 minutes or so, alongside feed, and keep your eye on all of your birds to make sure they are adapting well to their new home. 
    • Make sure they’re drinking: Be sure that each of your new pullets has found their water source and is able to use it before leaving them. (Training on nipple waterers often only takes a few minutes!) If you are using a traditional waterer, please be sure to clean it out frequently. Chickens don’t like to drink dirty, poopy water any more than we do! 
    • Give them time to recover: We recommend you let your started pullets rest quietly in their coop for the first two days. Let them acclimate to their new surroundings without visitors, either furred or feathered! Don’t let them out into their run or into the yard during this time, in order to teach them that their new coop is “home”. After those first two days, you may introduce them into their run, but we recommend you don’t free-range them for at least a week. Your pullets will still be quite small, and as such they’ll be considered a wonderful snack by a wide variety of predators (including the family dog!) 

     Related Articles: 

    More about teaching your pullets where “home” is. 

    Protecting your flock from predation.  

    • Sleeping on the roost: After about a week, your new pullets should be sleeping on their roosting pole at night.  If they haven’t begun, gently place them on the roost in the evening, once they’ve already fallen asleep. (You don’t want one left behind on the floor -- she’ll be poo-bombed overnight!) 
    • Introducing your pullets to the established flock: If you have an established flock, it would be a huge mistake to turn all the birds out together--warfare will ensue. Our website discusses integration strategies at length, read more info here

    Other important considerations:

    • Calcium: You won’t need any calcium supplements when your pullets first arrive--and in fact, you may not need it at all! Most “complete” layer feeds have adequate calcium. However, some flock owners like to offer a free-choice container of crushed oyster shell for birds once they have started laying. (Laying hens with insufficient calcium in their diet will use calcium from their own bones and can suffer from bone fractures as a result.)

       More information about calcium

      Oyster shell for sale at My Pet Chicken

      • Beware of clumpy or moldy feed: Clumpy feed may be moldy feed, and mold is potentially deadly for your birds. If you suspect mold, inspect your feed bags for signs that they’ve been damp.  We recommend storing feed in a watertight container with a tamper-proof lid. If you find clumps or it smells bad, throw it out and buy your flock fresh feed. 

      Read more about the dangers of mold.

      • Heat Lamps in your Coop: Furthermore, traditional infrared heat bulbs are a terrible choice for heating your coop. Each year we receive reports of fires resulting from heat bulbs, where flocks are horribly lost and family homes are endangered or even destroyed. Please educate yourself on this important issue, if you aren’t already aware.

      And, if you do feel the need to heat your pullets, please consider these safe heater options.

      • Biosecurity: Your pullets have only been vaccinated against Marek’s disease.  If you feel you are in a high risk area for other diseases, please contact an aviary specialist to help decide which additional vaccinations or medications may be appropriate for your birds.
      •  Also, if there were wild birds in your coop or run prior to the arrival of your pullets, take extra care to sanitize and thoroughly dry all areas before your birds arrive, as wild birds are the main disease vector for your chickens. 
      • Finally, be careful to change shoes and/or clothing after visiting a poultry yard or show. You don’t want to bring home pathogens to your flock. 
      • Learn more about biosecurity 



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