So you are interested in backyard chickens? Well, it might be easier than you think! You can raise backyard chickens for eggs in a rural yard, suburb and even the city! Not to mention, it is a fun project for the whole family and a very rewarding one when you can enjoy farm fresh eggs – as fresh as possible! This is part of a series that will walk you through Raising Backyard Chickens step-by-step. This is step #1 – What you need to know when buying chicks…so that you can run a successful backyard chicken farm from the beginning!
There are a number of places you can obtain chicks, what the best choice is depends mainly on how specific you want to be about breed and such things. Your first option is a feed store.
Pros of a feed store:
• There is likely one pretty close to your home, so no long drive.
• You pick them up yourself, so no shipping cost.
• You can examine chicks yourself at the store to make sure you’re getting healthy ones.
• Chicks are most likely vaccinated against Marek’s disease
Cons of a feed store:
• Feed stores cannot 100% guarantee the breed of the chick. They have them roughly sorted, but accidents happen and you can end up with a mixed breed or an entirely different breed than what you wanted fairly easily. This isn’t a big deal, usually, but if you absolutely have your heart set on a particular breed, you may want to look elsewhere.
• Another breed-related issue is that feed stores tend to have a pretty small selection. They will have the common breeds, like Rhode Island Red, Silver-Laced and Red-Laced Wyandotte, Red and Black Star(alternatively known as Black/Red Sex Link), Leghorn, Ameraucana and Barred Rock. If you are wanting anything more than these, you will probably have to go another route.
Your second option is buying from a hatchery.
Pros of buying chicks from a hatchery:
• They will guarantee the breed(if they are a good hatchery, which I am assuming for the moment. I’ll talk more about that later.).
• They can guarantee the sex of the chicks, usually.
• You can get pretty much any breed you can imagine, most hatcheries are pretty versatile.
• Chicks from a good hatchery will be vaccinated against Marek’s disease .
Cons of buying chicks at a hatchery:
• You can’t see the chicks until you’ve bought them.
• There is a chance that your chicks will be DOA(Dead On Arrival) as mailing is stressful for chicks. However a good hatchery will have methods to prevent this from happening most of the time.
• Shipping costs can be high.
Your third, and least preferable option is buying chicks off KSL or a similar site, from an individual(instead of a hatchery)
Pros of buying online:
• Once again, you pick up the chicks yourself so no shipping cost.
• Just like with a feed store, you will be able to see the chicks before you buy.
Cons of buying online:
• No guarantees. The sellers are not usually experienced and in many cases don’t know what they’re doing. This isn’t always the case, but don’t assume anything.
• Chicks from a random seller may not be vaccinated against Marek’s disease, a deadly contagious disease that can affect entire flocks.
• You can’t look up reviews to see if the person is reputable.
• You can’t know what breed you’re getting for sure, nor can you be sure about the sex as the seller is not a professional.
I think that’s about it! Next article will be about caring for your new chicks.
This article was written by Erin, a pro at raising her own chickens and eggs in her family’s backyard! She’s just a teen, but loves animals of all kinds and wants to be a veterinarian and is studying to do so. In addition to raising chickens, she raises ducks, geese and bunnies in her family’s urban backyard!