If you have decided that buying chicks is the route for you, then congratulations! There’s nothing cuter than a bundle of peeping fuzzy chicks, and they will grow up into egg producers for your family.
Deciding where to buy your chicks is an important choice, as you are making an investment for your family, and you need to know that you are purchasing healthy chicks which will grow into healthy birds.
There are three easily accessible options open to you for purchasing chicks; buying from a hatchery, from a farm supply store, or from a local breeder.
From a hatchery, you will generally get a good price, with the added benefit that the chicks will be delivered right to your local post office. You will have the widest choice of breeds available to you, but you will also probably have a minimum order of birds – often 25 – which may be a little overwhelming if you were just planning on having a handful of birds. Shipping day old chicks is not usually risky, but some chicks can do worse than others and may not make it. Chicks from a hatchery are often vaccinated against certain diseases, or an additional fee can be paid for it to be done.
From a local feed store, you can buy as few chicks as you want. However, if you were looking for a large run of birds, for example for meat, the feed store may not have as many as you need. The variety of breeds will be lesser, but you will be able to see and touch the birds you are buying, and can avoid any that look like they may have suffered in the process of shipping from the hatchery to the feed store. The price per bird may be slightly higher than at a hatchery, but you will save on shipping costs.
From a local breeder, you should be able to not only see the chicks themselves, but often the parent stock and raising conditions too. If the conditions look poor, or the parent stock look sickly, then this should raise a red flag, and you probably shouldn’t buy from them. Prices can vary greatly; some people will be selling low-cost chicks from basic backyard hatchery stock, others will be selling high quality birds from breeder and show stock – and the cost generally reflects this. Chicks will usually be unvaccinated. The bonus of buying locally is that many will offer advice and ‘after-sales service‘ where they will assist you with any questions or problems you might have.
The route you choose for your first chicks will be the one that best suits your family and circumstances, and the one you feel most comfortable with. Choosing the first birds to bring into your family is a happy event, enjoy!
Hoegger Farmyard Contributor
Happily returning to her farming roots, Katy raises Nigerian Dwarf and Angora goats, chickens and Dutch rabbits in North Georgia – alongside an ever-expanding four season garden. The goal of sustainability and complete self-sufficiency is never far from her mind, and she seeks to share the love and inspire others to get closer to their food and provide for their families from their own back yard.