Are you looking to start raising chickens? There’s a lot to learn!
One of the first terms you should become familiar with is “straight run chickens.” Knowing the term is important! That is why we will show you the complete guide to straight run chickens today.
Knowing about straight runs could be the difference between getting the flock of your dreams or a challenging little adventure.
So, without further delay, let’s dive into discussing straight run chickens.
This article will cover
- What Are Straight Run Chickens?
- Sexed and Unsexed Chicks
- Why Buy Straight Run Chickens?
- Things to Consider When Buying Straight Run Chickens
- Raising Straight Run Chickens
- Cockerels and Pullets
What Are Straight Run Chickens?
Straight run chickens is a term used when buying chicks. Simply put, it means buying chicks without determining their gender.
In other words, you cannot control how many pullets (i.e., females) and cockerels (i.e., males) you will get. You will randomly get a certain number of males and females with each batch.
Sexed and Unsexed Chicks
Let’s explain the concept behind straight run chicks before we continue.
When buying chicks, there are usually three choices: pullets, cockerels, and straight runs. These three will fall into two categories: sexed or unsexed.
It’s easy to distinguish between a hen and a rooster, but it’s a different story with chicks. Unlike with other animals, it is difficult to tell what is the gender of the chicks immediately.
It’s not impossible. It might be challenging, but it is still possible.
Distinguishing the gender of the chicks is possible through the sexing process.
This process is resource-intensive for hatcheries, both in terms of time and money.
The unsexed chicks are those that didn’t go through that process. These chicks are our straight runs. On the other hand, the sexed chicks are our pullets and cockerels.
Pullets are pricier than straight runs. However, the cockerels are cheaper than the straight runs.
You might be wondering why. The males and the females both went through the sexing process. It seems logical to think that they would both be pricier than straight runs.
Well, it all boils down to demand. Pullets are almost always wanted by poultry keepers, while the roosters are not. That’s why even if the cockerels went through the process, they’re still the cheapest birds.
One could argue that offering straight runs is also a strategy for hatcheries to sell male chicks. Can you imagine if there were no straight run chickens? Hatcheries would likely be full of unwanted cockerels!
Why Buy Straight Run Chickens?
Straight runs are great if you’re looking for a mix of males and females. It is the most cost-effective option in this case.
As we’ve said earlier, there are three options when buying chicks. You can go for pullets, cockerels, or straight runs. Pullets are the most expensive of the three. The cockerels are the cheapest option. Straight runs are the ones in between.
As you can see, it would be more cost-effective to go for straight runs instead of buying pairs. The difference is not noticeable in small batches. The larger the batch, the bigger the savings when it comes to straight runs.
Gender variation is important in a flock if you’re looking to hatch and raise your own chicks. A hen and a rooster are both needed for fertilized eggs, after all.
Variety could also be a good thing if you’re trying to look for a new flock leader. A straight run batch will almost always give you a few males. You can take your pick.
Straight runs are also great if you have the intention of cooking a few chickens after some time. Again, you can keep the pullets if you want. You can roast those you don’t want.
Things to Consider When Buying Straight Run Chickens
Now, let’s talk about the things you should consider before you buy your straight runs.
There is no telling how many males and females you could get in a batch of straight runs. It is possible to get all males or all females. There is only a fraction of a chance that this would happen, but it is still possible.
As a general rule, it is a good idea to be ready for anything when buying straight runs.
A batch of straight runs is most likely to have a cockerel that will eventually become a rooster.
There are places where roosters are not allowed. It is not advisable to get straight runs in such areas.
If you do decide to get straight runs, you should prepare an exit plan for the cockerels before they start crowing.
You can keep the cockerel around for some time as it won’t start crowing until a few months. When it’s time, you might want to consider giving it, selling it or cooking it.
Roosters and Cockerels
Male chickens could get territorial. Make sure you check how your rooster would react if you plan to mix the cockerels into your flock.
Roosters are not known to attack cockerels. Despite that, it is still a good idea to keep an eye out for the little one if you have an extra aggressive roo. It’s better to be safe than to have a dead cockerel on your hands.
On the flip side, cockerels could get serious with each other. It seems more likely that a cockerel would kill a fellow. Fighting among cockerels is normal. However, it is important to prevent injuries and killings.
Research and Reviews
Make sure you do your research on the hatchery you’re planning to buy from before purchasing straight runs. There are many honest hatcheries, but there are also many dishonest ones.
Generally, there is a fair chance of getting as many males as females with straight runs. However, the belief is that some hatcheries intentionally give more males than females.
Raising Straight Run Chickens
Raising straight run chickens is almost the same as raising an ordinary flock. Well, you might just have a few extra troublemakers. Here’s a few things that might help.
When you buy straight runs, one thing you might want to consider is separating them from your flock.
Some buy straight runs with the intention to cook them after some time. If that’s the case, you might want to separate them since they would most likely have a different diet.
If you plan to raise them, then you can easily mix the pullets with the flock. However, the cockerels are a different story.
It doesn’t always happen, but your cockerels might gang up on your pullets, especially if there are more males than females. As you can imagine, this could be very stressful for your pullets. If you start seeing this scenario play out, we highly suggest you separate the cockerels.
If you don’t want to separate your cockerels, make sure you offer lots of space and room. This way, your pullet can run away from the cockerels if they’re bothering her.
You can also add some high perches. This addition will also help the pullets avoid the cockerels.
Earlier, we said that you should keep an eye out for your cockerels when they fight. If not, you might end up with a dead cockerel on your hands.
Monitoring any fights among your cockerels will also indicate the aggression levels of each one.
If you’ve chosen a breed known for its gentleness, then it’s advisable to address any unusually aggressive males first.
Cockerels and Pullets
After all this, you might think that straight runs are not for you. Here are some things you might want to keep in mind when buying pullets and cockerels.
Margin of Error
As we have said earlier, sexing is not an easy process. There could still be some mistakes.
Many hatcheries will disclose their margin of error. This means you might still receive a few chicks of the unintended gender. If the place was open about their margin of error, you mostly can’t expect a refund if this happens.
Some breeds can only be sold as straight runs. Usually, these are the bantams and rare ones.
It could be that the chicks are so tiny that the sexing process could injure them, or it is simply hard to identify the gender of the chicks.
There you have it! The complete guide to straight run chickens.
“Straight run chickens” is a commonly used term in the poultry world. One way or another, a chicken handler will come across the term. It is important to be familiar with it, especially if you’re planning to buy some chicks.
Straight run chickens could be challenging, but we have little doubt that it could be a fun and rewarding experience.
If you end up with one or two more males than you want, then you can always have chicken for dinner!
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.