Friday, August 2, 2013

Beginning With Chicks Series: Ordering Your Chicks

Hello Chicken Raising Chicks!

Today's post is the first part of our new blog series Beginning With Chicks. If you're reading this at a later time, the rest of the series may have already been published. Please view the series announcement post to find links to all available posts.

Today I am going to talk about ordering your chicks.

There are four main ways to do this. 


The first way is directly through a hatchery. There are many to choose from. But there is one thing you need to be aware of. Most hatcheries have a minimum order or 25 chicks. Not all of them, but most do. This is to ensure the safety of the chicks as well as lower shipping costs. But unless you want, and are prepared for, a large flock, this can be a problem. That's where the second option comes in.

* Some hatcheries offer a free chick bonus when you order.

* Not always will you have room for 25+ chickens.

I can't truly give very many pros and cons because all hatcheries are different. If their is a certain one you are leaning towards try searching online for reviews.  

Feed Stores

Ordering through feed stores is often the best way if you want a small amount of chickens. Not all feed stores order chicks, but there are quite a few that do. If you are unsure about your local feed store just give them a call.

Feed stores usually order from hatcheries as well, but since they meet the 25 chick requirement through their own standard order of chickens (usually Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucanas, Orpingtons etc.), you can order as many as you'd like.

*You'll be able to see the chicks at the feed store before you actually purchase them.
*You can order a small number of chicks and it shouldn't be a problem.

*Not all employees know what they're doing. We had one person who worked at a local feed store send us home with the wrong chicks.
*If you are ordering bantams and the are in the same shipment as regular chickens there can be a bully in the mix.

Local Farms or Chicken Raisers

The third option is not always available and often depends on your location. If you live anywhere near a chicken raiser or a farm you might be able to purchase chicks from them. Feel free to stop by and ask, the worst thing they can say is no.

If they do sell chicks you may want to ask their price so you can compare it to that of a hatchery or feed store. You'll also want to make sure they have the breed(s) you're looking for.

Another thing you should ask them is if you will be able to pick the chicks out yourself. Many people won't have a problem with you picking out which chicks you want yourself. If they don't want you picking yourself you may want to ask around to see how reliable they were about giving you the correct breed.

*Most people selling the chicks will let you pick which ones you want. This is often a fun things for kids to do, as well as adults.
*You can personally see how the chickens are being cared for. When you order from a hatchery, you don't always know what's really going on.

*In a farm where a lot of chickens live together, it is often hard to be positive about the breed of the chick. So if you want a very specific breed and won't settle for a cross-breed, this may not be your best option.

My Pet

The fourth option is a great website called

This is basically the same as ordering through a hatchery, except for one great thing.

You can order (depending on your location) as few as three chicks. So if you really want to order by mail, but just don't need that many chicks, this is your best option.

We have never ordered from them ourselves, but have heard great reviews from people who did.

*Small minimum requirement
*They are the only company in the nation that offers sexed bantam chicks.
*They have a great "live chick rate" and only 1 out of every 100 chicks has a problem during shipping. And even if you are one of the rare people that does receive a chick that has died, they will reimburse you for it.

*They are not a hatchery themselves, but a brokerage for Meyer Hatchery. Some people have a problem with this because the feel that My Pet Chicken isn't very upfront about this.
*They have had some negative reviews about not sending the correct breeds.
*Shipping costs can be expensive.

I'm going to walk you through the first and second option, as you can probably handle the third option on your own. (If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email, or leave a comment below.) And the fourth option will relatively be the same as the second when it comes to ordering.

Whether you decide to order from a feed store of hatchery, the first step would be to obtain a catalog from the hatchery you'll be ordering from, or the hatchery your local feed store uses. You can also check online to see if the hatchery has a website. This is so you can look at all of the available breeds and colors they offer and decide what you like. You may also want to research the breeds and check their temperament, egg production rate, and typical life span. And, if you want meat birds, you'll want to know which breeds are best for that.

After you have decided on which breeds you like and how many of each you want you can place you order. Keep in mind that not all breeds, or certain colors, are available year-round, so you'll want to call the hatchery and confirm that your choices are available.

For most hatcheries you can order online, by phone, and by the insert that comes in the catalog.

For most feed stores you can order in person and by phone.

When choosing the amount of chicks you order it is always a good policy to order a couple more than you want. Not all chicks make it through shipping and even if they do you could still lose some in the next few days. This is completely normal and isn't something you did wrong or didn't do right. It happens to everyone.

Whether you order from a feed store or a hatchery you will probably get an estimate for when your chicks should arrive. Sometimes these estimates can be off a day or two, so be prepared.

If your chicks are coming in the mail, you will usually get a call from the post office that they have arrived. When you open the package it would probably be good to do so away from your children (if you have any) because, as I said before, some of the chicks may not have made it through shipping.

Thank you for stopping by to read our new series Beginning With Chicks and I hope you'll come back next week for our new post Beginning With Chicks: Preparing For Your Chicks.

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