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/chicken keeper and from a professional hatchery. Today, we will talk about buying chicks from a local feed store.
Buying Chicks from a Feed Store:
Feed stores are one of the most common places for new chicken keepers to buy chicks. If you’ve been to a feed store during the springtime, you’ve probably heard chirping and have seen troughs filled with adorable yellow chicks! Admittedly, it can be hard to resist bringing home a few of them!
Chick sales vary greatly depending on the feed store. Most feed stores offer chicks for sale in the early Spring. Some stores offer only a few standard breeds. However, some feed stores have special “Chick Days” events where they offer special breeds and even bring in trained volunteers/staff to help you pick out your new chicks!
Before rushing off to the feed store to bring home your new fluffy chicks, here are some things to consider:
Pros of Buying Chicks from a Feed Store:
- Ease of buying: It doesn’t get any easier than driving to your local feed store to pick up your new chicks! You can also buy your feed and other necessary supplies at the same time, which can be very convenient for new chicken keepers.
- Ability to pick out chicks: At a feed store, you will be able to see and pick out the exact chicks that you want to buy. This can make the process of getting new chicks very fun, especially for new chicken owners!
- Affordability: Feed stores offer chicks at very affordable prices. They may also offer discounted prices towards the end of the sale season, which can be a very economical way to buy a large number of chicks.
Cons of Buying Chicks from a Feed Store:
- Limited breeds: Feed stores usually offer a limited number of breeds for sale. These breeds are usually the most popular breeds for egg layers, such as Rhode Island Reds and ISA Browns. They may also offer a meat breed like the Cornish Cross.
- Limited sales period: Chicks are usually available at feed stores only once a year for about a month in the Spring. Because of this, it’s important to know when to expect chicks at your local store so that you don’t miss the sales period.
- Breed and sex may be mislabeled: It is very easy for chicks to be placed in the wrong bin or moved to an incorrect bin after handling. This can cause confusion about the breed of the chick, especially if it looks like any of the other breeds being offered. There is also a chance that chicks could be incorrectly sexed.
- Staff may or may not be knowledgable: Generally, feed store staff members are not trained on how to care for chicks or other aspects of chicken keeping. If you have questions about chicken keeping, it may be best to find a local mentor or other source of information.
- Chicks may be stressed or sick: Depending on the feed store, chick pens may be accessible to customers. This often leads to people and children handling the chicks. While it can be fun to play with the chicks, it increases their risk of becoming ill or stressed. Before purchasing, you may want to ensure that your feed store has protocols in place to keep chicks as healthy and stress-free as possible.
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.