Where To Buy Chickens
by Isabelle Esch
Welcome to where to buy chickens, an article in my series Raising Chickens for Beginners.
In this article we will go over the many different ways to buy chickens, where to buy chickens, how to find out if they are quality chicks, and is it easier to hatch your own?
So, Are you ready to buy chickens?
That helps to narrow down the search quite a bit because not all hatcheries or breeders will have what you need and want.
The Feed Store
One of the most common places to get chicks is at a feed store, however, those chicks have likely been handled far too much to be healthy.
It seems appealing but the stress of being moved again will cause them to have trouble eating and fighting sickness.
However, if you do decide to purchase from a feed store you should definitely be sure to put electrolytes in their water to help strengthen their immune systems.
It’s also best to call ahead and see what day the chicks are delivered. The day they arrive at the feed store is the best day to buy them because they have not been sitting in the store as long.
If you choose to purchase chicks from a large chain feed store be sure to do research on the chain store to get an idea of the survival rate of chicks as well as how they are shipped to the store.
For example in 2021 Tractor Supply had issues where they were accused of mistreating chicks and ducklings. They also experienced higher death rates than usual when implementing new “tower” brooders.
United Poultry Concerns was involved in urging Tractor Supply to end thier sales of live animals. The article by this organization can be read here.
If you are looking to buy chicks from a chicken hatchery, there are pros and cons.
If you order from a larger chicken hatchery, chances are they won’t have a place for you to come see the chicks before purchasing them, however, a few of them do offer money-back if a lot of your chicks arrive dead or die soon after you receive them.
If you order from a larger hatchery, you can usually order more than if you bought from a small breeder, however that also means if you want ten or less, it’s harder to buy from a larger hatchery.
A few hatcheries I have had a good experience with are Murray Mcmurray, Meyer Hatchery, and Cackle Hatchery (as of 2017).
When you are buying chicks from any hatchery, be careful and look for people who have already bought from them.
If your friends or neighbors have chickens you can ask where they bought theirs, and they can tell you about their experiences. You can also check out google reviews for many hatcheries.
Personally, when I’m buying laying hens, I prefer to have more than one breed, and that’s when I love to find local breeders.
I like to go see the chicks and pick a few myself. I love to discuss with the breeders, because chances are, they probably have a favorite new breed, and it helps me to find out about new breeds.
When I’m ordering birds for meat, a hatchery works well, because I can order as many as I want, and its usually cheaper.
And remember, ask around, usually you can find someone who has bought locally before and ask where they bought from and how their experience was. It’s good to use other people’s experiences.
Incubation and Swaps
Did you know that you can hatch your own chicks, even without having hens?
You can purchase a small incubator and buy eggs from breeders, or even your friends.
If you happen to have friends that already have a full flock then you can also discuss with them buying chicks or fertilized eggs to incubate. This will probably be lower cost and you will be able to see the adult versions of the chickens before raising them yourself.
When one person in a community purchases chickens, they can earn a little extra money and help others out by offering to sell chicks.
If none of the people around you happen to have the kind of chickens you want, you can always look online for an animal swap near you.
There people will sell chicks, eggs for incubation, and trios of birds. A trio consists of one rooster and two hens.
When you are buying adult birds ask the owner what breed they are, pull out your phone, and look up what the characteristics of that breed are, make sure none of them have faulty cones, check their feet for mites, and look at their wings for anything out of the ordinary.
Trust me, you don’t want to bring a disease home.
If you intend to add new chickens to an already established flock it is best to “quarantine” new chickens away from the rest of the flock for a few weeks. This way you can observe them for diseases and temperament issues and so that they can adjust to any changes in feed.
Bringing them home
When you bring chicks home they are very fragile, they need heat whether that is a heating pad, a light, or in your in-home heating.
You should observe chicks carefully for their first few days, and adding sugar, Gatorade, or vitamin and electrolyte powders made especially for chicks. For more Chicken Health tips click here.
When you bring home adult birds if you want to free-range, I wouldn’t release them the first day, or even the first few weeks, let them get used to you and make sure they know where the feed is.
Thanks for reading! Check out the articles in my series Raising Chickens for Beginners and I wish you good luck on your chicken raising journey.