AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
THIS BUSINESS OF
GROWING REPLACEMENT PULLETS
By N. R. MEHRHOF
Head, Poultry Department, University of Florida
Fig. 1.-If given proper management, pullets can be grown
quite successfully in permanent houses.
Consider These Factors
1. The Chick
2. The House and Equipment
3. The Feed
5. The Disease Problem
7. Cost of Production
Growing replacement pullets is the most important phase of
commercial egg farming. It is from these pullets that poultry-
men expect to secure economical and profitable egg production
the following year.
Many factors must be taken into consideration if quality pul-
lets are to be placed in the laying house.
This circular briefly discusses these 7 factors: the chick, the
house and equipment, the feed, labor, the disease problem, man-
agement and cost of production.
Pullet chicks purchased become the potential money makers
during the laying period. It is important to select the best chick
available of the breed and strain desired for the egg farm.
The chick selected should possess an inherent ability for:
(1) high egg production, (2) large egg size, (3) good egg qual-
ity, (4) high livability, and (5) efficient utilization of feed. All
chicks should come from pullorum-typhoid clean stock.
Buyers of chicks should study reports from random egg-
laying tests and the performance of birds on neighboring farms.
They should secure a list of Florida hatcheries cooperating in
the National Poultry Improvement Plan to help in making the
In planning your chick purchases consider the performance
first and the initial price second.
Start with healthy chicks to help reduce the chance of dis-
ease attacking the flock.
Sexed pullet chicks are usually preferred.
Most poultrymen are using either Single Comb White Leg-
horns, Incrossbreds, or Crossbreds of the lighter weights on
their egg farms. In some cases some of the heavier breeds
(particularly Single Comb Rhode Island Red) or Crossbreds
THE HOUSE AND EQUIPMENT
The second factor to consider is the poultry house and equip-
ment necessary to handle the chicks from the start until they
are placed in the laying house.
The house should be comfortable for the chicks and the
growing pullets, convenient for the operator, and constructed at
a low cost.
See Cir. 202, on Houses and Equipment for Growing Replacement
Sufficient space to allow the chicks and pullets to grow nor-
mally is important. Provide at least 1/2 square foot of floor
space per chick at the start and 2 square feet per pullet later
during the growing period (6 to 8 weeks of age). Do not crowd.
The equipment must be ample and of the right size to do a
satisfactory job. It should include:
1. A brooder for each 300 to 350 chicks.
2. Feeders.-At least 1" per chick for the first 2 weeks,
1.75" per chick through the 6th week, 3" per chick through the
12th week, and 4 to 5" till time of housing.
3. Waterers.-At least 1/2 to 1" per chick; additional wa-
terers should be used during warm weather.
THE FEED 2
The chicks and pullets must be fed a well-balanced diet ac-
cording to a definite schedule, if they are to grow normally.
A common practice at the start is to place feed on egg flats,
papers or cut-down chick boxes in addition to the feed placed in
the chick feeders. After the chicks learn to eat, remove egg
flats, etc., and keep feed hoppers not more than half full; this
will tend to prevent feed waste.
Keep feed and water available at all times.
TABLE 1.-FEED CONSUMPTION BY 4-WEEK INTERVALS AND CUMULATIVE,
AND WEIGHT PER PULLET.-
Light Breeds I| Heavy Breeds
Weeks Cumulative I | I Cumulative I
Feed Feed Weight Feed Feed Weight
I (Ibs) (Ibs) (lbs) (lbs) (Ibs) (lbs)
0-4 1.15 1.15 0.49 1.30 1.30 0.56
5-8 2.85 4.00 1.44 4.20 5.50 1.97
9-12 4.00 8.00 2.41 5.00 10.50 3.32
13-16 5.00 13.00 3.07 5.50 16.00 3.95
17-20 5.00 18.00 3.68 6.00 22.00 4.78
21-24 6.00 24.00 4.23 6.00 28.00 5.35
In general, commercial egg producers are using an all-mash
system of feeding. Variations from the all-mash system will be
found, including the use of crumbles, pellets and/or mash and
During the entire growing period it is essential that a well-
balanced diet be fed, whether it be all-mash, a pelleted feed, mash
2 See Cir. 203, Feeding Replacement Pullets.
and grain or a combination. It should be available in open type
hoppers. Clean fresh water is a must.
Table 1 gives approximate feed consumption for light and
heavy breeds at 4-week intervals, the total amount of feed con-
sumed and weight of pullets. This table should serve as a guide
in your feeding program.
Labor is an important item of expense in growing replace-
Location of buildings, distances traveled between buildings
and in feeding and watering, types of equipment, and arrange-
ment of equipment are factors which determine the amount of
time required to manage replacement pullets.
Study your operation to see if the several chores could be
handled more efficiently.
THE DISEASE PROBLEM
By purchasing healthy chicks, you have made a start in the
right direction to keep losses at a minimum.
The poultry house and all equipment should be cleaned be-
fore the chicks arrive and then a sanitation program followed to
keep them healthy throughout the brooding and rearing period.
Adopt a vaccination program to avoid or reduce losses from
Newcastle, infectious bronchitis and fowl pox.
If a disease appears, secure a complete diagnosis immedi-
ately. Contact the Diagnostic Laboratory in your area, the
county agent or service representative. ACT AT ONCE.
Poor management practices as well as disease may result
either in mortality or in placing inferior pullets in the laying
house. A sound program must be adopted and followed through-
out the entire growing period.
Suggestions in developing a good brooding and rearing pro-
3 These represent average values; therefore, considerable variation from
these may be obtained due to the energy content of the feed (see Cir. 203),
Table 1, footnote 1).
1. Clean the house and equipment before chicks arrive. Ar-
range equipment properly.
2. Brood quality chicks. Keep chicks comfortable at all
times. Start chicks at 90 to 95 F. and drop temperature as soon
as outside temperature and feathering will permit. Artificial
heat may be required for 3 weeks in warm weather or as long
as 6 or 8 weeks in cold weather. IMPROPER HEAT results in
piling up or chilling.
3. Start chicks at season of year to secure maximum returns.
To keep production more evenly distributed throughout the year,
more than 1 brood is desirable.
4. Keep brooder houses clean and chicks away from old birds.
5. Dry litter-shavings, cane pith (bagasse) or other ma-
terials-is desirable. The cheapest one is the best to use. The
majority of Florida producers are using shavings.
6. Guard-install a chick guard around brooders about 1
foot high and 18 to 24 inches from edge of hover. This will
prevent floor drafts and teach chicks to find the source of heat.
7. Roosts may be provided at 4 or 5 weeks of age.
8. Lights.-All-night lights well distributed may be used to
help keep chicks from piling. Don't use too much light.
9. Ventilation.-Provide plenty of fresh air without drafts.
10. Adopt a proven feeding program.
11. Keep everything clean.
12. Watch for parasites (external and internal).
13. Develop vaccination program-see Circular 169 and
write Dept. of Veterinary Science, University of Florida, Gaines-
14. If a disease condition makes its appearance, secure com-
plete diagnosis immediately. Contact Diagnostic Laboratory in
your area or county agent.
15. Watch the growth and development of pullets and re-
move unthrifty pullets at once.
FACTORS INFLUENCING TIME OF LAYING
Time of hatch-fall-hatched birds come into production about
2 weeks earlier than late Spring birds, due to increasing light as
maturity is reached.
Disease conditions slow dates to maturity.
In general, birds come into production at about 160 days.
(See data from Florida Random Sample Poultry Test.)
COST OF PRODUCTION
Growing pullets is expensive. Poultrymen should include
all items of expense to determine total cost of growing pullets.
Items of expense include feed, chick, labor, use of land, building
and equipment, interest and miscellaneous items.
Poultry producers should keep a complete record of all ex-
penses and receipts, both cash and non-cash, to know what it
is costing to grow a pullet.
Records indicate that feed is the most expensive item. Ap-
proximate percentages of the different items are listed in Table 2.
TABLE 2.-CosT OF GROWING REPLACEMENT PULLETS.*
All other costs 10
These percentage figures will vary from farm to farm within the same year, and on
the same farm from year to year. Changes in feed prices, chick prices and labor efficiency,
as well as production efficiency, will alter these approximate percentages.
FACTORS AFFECTING COSTS OF GROWING
Some of the factors influencing the cost of raising pullets are:
1. Number of pullets per man.
2. Mortality-number and time.
3. Feed efficiency.
4. Cost of chicks.
5. Price of feed.
The following group of figures may be of assistance to the
beginner and to the poultry raiser who is not keeping complete
records and analyzing his costs.
1. 1 sack (100 pounds) of feed will feed 4 to 5 pullets until
they start production.
2. 1 pullet eats about 20 pounds of feed up to 20 weeks; 25
pounds up to 24 weeks. (Varies with diet, weight, and produc-
3. Pullets-at 4-week intervals, the feed consumption is 1,
3, 4, 5, 5 and 6 pounds to 24 weeks of age.
4. Chicks needed: 110 to 125 sexed pullet chicks for each
100 pullets to be raised. The number of chicks started per 100
pullets housed will be influenced by number of cockerels, acci-
dental losses, mortality and culling during the growing period.
It is better to figure conservatively in ordering chicks to in-
sure full use of laying house. Some producers order only 100
chicks, anticipating that the extras included with each shipment
will take care of cockerels and losses. It is better to have a
few extra ready-to-lay pullets to place in the laying house rather
than too few.
5. Formulas to estimate cost of growing pullets.
(A)-Price of 100# feed X feed consumed per pullet
100 = feed cost
(B)-Price of 100# feed X feed consumed per pullet
100 X % feed is of total cost = total cost
ing a pul-
6. Quick method of estimating approximate cost.
(C)-Price of 100# feed divided by 4 or 5 = feed cost per pullet.
(D)-Price of 100# feed X .4 or .33 = total cost of producing pullet.
Examples of use of formulas.
(A)-Feed Cost per Pullet
feed $5.00 per 100 lbs.
feed consumption 20 or 25 lbs.
$5.00 X 20 or 25 = $1.00 or $1.25
(B)-Total Cost per Pullet
$5.00 X 20 or 25 = $1.67 or $2.08
100 X 60%
(C)-Feed Cost per Pullet
$5.00 divided by 4 or 5 = $1.25 or $1.00
(D)-Total Cost per Pullet
$5.00 X .4 or .33 = $2.00 or $1.65
NOTE.-Poultrymen should use their prices and records to
estimate feed and total costs. A change of 1 cent per pound of
food will change feed cost per pullet 20 cents. A change of 1
pound of feed required to raise a pullet will change feed cost per
pullet 5 cents. (Based on $5.00 feed and 20 pounds of feed.)
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida,
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. O. Watkins, Director