You’ve decided to purchase your first chicks! Or, maybe, you are adding some new chicks to your existing flock! Either way, it’s an exciting time in every chicken keeper’s life! Of course, you want to make sure that the experience is as positive as possible for both you and the new chicks. Because of this, one of the first things to consider is where you should purchase your chicks.
While you can source chicks from a variety of places, the three most common are local breeders, professional hatcheries and feed stores. These sources will vary based on your location and region. But, for the most part, there are some consistent factors to consider before you choose where to buy your chicks. You will want to be able to choose the option that best fits your budget and your flock needs.
Previously, we discussed the pros and cons to consider before purchasing chicks from a local breeder or chicken keeper. Today, we will take a look at some of the reasons that you may or may not want to consider purchasing your chicks from a professional hatchery.
Buying Chicks from a Professional Poultry Hatchery
Professional hatcheries are a great place to find a wide variety of chicks. While it may seem unconventional to have day old chicks sent from the hatchery in the mail, it’s actually quite common! Buying chicks from a professional hatchery can be a great way to acquire your first chickens or expand your current flock.
Here are some things to consider before ordering your new chicks from a professional hatchery:
Pros of Buying Chicks from Professional Hatchery:
- Breed variety: Many hatcheries offer a large variety of breeds for sale. They may also sell hatching eggs in addition to day old chicks. Hatcheries offer chicks that are true to their breeds and there is a very low chance of cross-breeding. Chicks are usually sold as either sexed or straight-run (unsexed).
- Licensing: Depending on their size, large hatching facilities may have to comply with certain state and national regulations and inspections. They may also have additional certifications (such as NPIP certification) which further shows their commitment to being a high-quality facility.
- Vaccinations: Large hatcheries usually offer the option of having your chicks vaccinated for a small additional fee. This is often much easier and more affordable than trying to vaccinate chicks yourself.
- Ease of ordering: Ordering is easy and many companies offer catalogs for your to browse. You can usually place your order online or over the phone and then the hatchery communicates directly with you once the chicks are ready to hatch and ship so that you know when to expect the chicks.
- Refund policy: Most hatcheries have some sort of refund or replacement policy if chicks die after arrival. They may also offer refunds or replacements for chicks that aren’t sexed accurately.
Cons of Buying Chicks from a Professional Hatchery:
- Chicks must be shipped: Day old chicks will be shipped to you from the hatchery using the US Postal Service. While most chicks handle shipping well, there is always a risk of chicks becoming stressed or sick, which can cause them to possibly die. You will also need to be prepared to pick up your new chicks at the post office when they arrive.
- Seasonal limitations: Most hatcheries do their hatching and shipping only during certain times of the year (commonly Spring through Fall). Because of this, buyers will usually need to place their orders in advance and wait until the proper hatching time for their chicks to be sent.
- Online reviews can be mixed: Online reviews are one of the best ways to gauge the quality of the hatchery before you order. Unfortunately, many online reviews are very polarized: some people rave about a certain hatchery while others only share negative experiences. This can make it hard to know which hatchery is the best fit for you.
- Unable to see facilities and chicks: If you order chicks from a hatchery, you won’t be able to pick out the chicks or even see the facilities. Even if a hatchery is local to your area, it’s unlikely that you will be able to see the facilities due to strict biosecurity regulations. Remember, these regulations are in place to ensure that transmittable diseases don’t spread through the hatchery.
Some Popular Professional Poultry Hatcheries:
If you decide that you want to order chicks from a hatchery, there are many to choose from! Here are some of the most popular hatcheries to start your search:
- Meyers Hatchery
- Cackle Hatchery
- McMurray Hatchery
- Hoover’s Hatchery
- My Pet Chicken
- Ideal Poultry
Kaylee Vaughn is a suburban homesteader, caring for chickens, goats, and a large garden on a little less than an acre. She and her family strive to create the most efficient homestead possible in the small space we have available. Her chickens are not only beautiful yard ornaments, but also a vital part of their homestead management practices! “We utilize them to produce manure, control pests, turn compost, and more.” Kaylee’s nick-named them “the gardeners” because they are always in the garden, working hard – and redecorating on occasion, too! You can follow Kaylee through her website.