How does your favorite mail-order hatchery stack up? After months of research, I compiled a list of what I feel are the top five hatcheries. I contacted and research sixteen well-known hatcheries, polling chicken lovers all over the country through forums and social media to acquire the consumers’ hands-on experiences, as well as my own experiences.
Out of the sixteen hatcheries directly contacted, only three chose to take part in any communication with me. Out of those three, only two were willing to partake in my request for information. One even sent me nine free hens to review, since I had personally never used their company. With any consumer-based business, you find people with varying experiences with the very same company. What one customer may feel might be the polar opposite of another.
Top sixteen well-known hatcheries:
- Welp Hatchery
- Murray McMurray Hatchery
- Purely Poultry
- Townline Hatchery
- My Pet Chickens
- MtHealthy Hatchery
- Ideal Poultry
- Hoover’s Hatchery
- Meyer’s Hatchery
- Ridgeway Hatchery
- Stromberg’s Hatchery
- Cackle Hatchery
- Chickens for Backyards
- Country Hatchery
- Poultry Hatchery
- Ultimate Farm Chicken
From the original sixteen hatcheries, I was able to narrow down further to the top eight. I took into consideration the following criteria reviews, website, customer service, the price per chick, shipping cost, consumer polls, breed variety, specials, rare breed pricing, quality of peeps, miss gender statistics, minimum order, and deformation statistics.
The top eight in no particular order:
- Chickens for Backyards
- Cackle Hatchery
- Meyer’s Hatchery
- Hoover’s Hatchery
- Ideal Poultry
- Townline Hatchery
- My Pet Chickens
- Purely Poultry
From the top eight hatcheries, it became more difficult to pick just five. I made the criteria much more stringent and consumer reviews became number one amongst the criteria. I’ve personally ordered from three of these hatcheries. After re-polling the masses, the top five hatcheries were chosen.
So, what does it all mean?
For me, I had the best overall personal experience with Cackle Hatchery. Their customer service department is out of this world! When asking about hatcheries in different chicken forums and groups they received the best feedback overall. The quality of their chicks is above average in my opinion, no deformations. Their price per chick is amongst the best; their shipping, however, is on the higher side. They are the only hatchery that chose to embrace taking part in this review. They did not question the set criteria. I believe they are aware of having superior service, in return had nothing to worry about. They have won my future business hands down. I would rather pay a bit more and receive amazing service and a quality product. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the weekly specials and deals! Cackle easily earned the blue ribbon.
Ideal Poultry has the best pricing hands down. They always include extra chicks to help warm the others, even though they are normally roosters. The quality seems to be good as well. They have great specials and sales if you pay attention to their Facebook page. Their customer service is amongst the best I have encountered. Quick to respond and remedy any issues or questions is sure to make them a top pick. Their website is easy to maneuver through and their information is easy to comprehend. They have a great selection of breeds and colors, some you would have trouble finding anywhere else.
My Pet Chickens came up a lot during polling and consumer reviews. The consumers love their ability to sex bantams and allow small orders. I have only heard good about their customer service. I myself have not purchased through this particular hatchery. Their prices are easily the highest among the online hatcheries but, that doesn’t stop their supporters. Not being able to pick an exact delivery date, has always been a turn off for me. I like to know when mine are coming way ahead of time. So, I have everything prepared for the chick’s arrival. They have a great selection of birds to choose from. You better order early though: special breeds sell out fast!
Hoovers Hatchery impressed me with their outstanding customer service. Last year, I had the pleasure of using them for the first time. When my chicks got lost in the mail they were right on top of it. They called the postal facilities and found them very quickly. They called and stayed in touch with me throughout the whole incident. Even after a three-day ship, during a cold snap, they all arrived alive. Within two days I lost one chick who was weak from the start and I had one that acquired spraddle leg. I love that the price of their birds includes the shipping and I find their website easy to use. They always seem to add an extra chick or two to help cover any losses during travel.
Meyer’s Hatchery seems to be a mixed bag. The consumers either love or hate them. Their customer service department could use a bit of retraining. The last thing any business should do is belittle their customer’s knowledge. I myself have ordered them a few times including recently. I have experienced both good batches and bad. The birds I have purchased through, they have lived long lives and are amongst my oldest girls. When I’ve encountered problems, their customer service department eventually made it right; however, a pleasant experience would have been nice. The worse situation I had with them, was when I received six roosters instead of pullets. However, I’m sure this is a rare occurrence for them and I was compensated for five of them.
The sixth a Barred Rock, Mr. Rock, still lives right here on the farm being my favorite rooster of all times.
In the end, I believe all the hatcheries try to offer a quality product for a fair price. Yet, some may succeed a bit more than others. Customer service truly is the key to a customer’s heart as well as their future business. After polling hundreds of chicken enthusiasts most choose service over price. Overall, enthusiasts agreed that Cackle Hatchery and My Pet Chickens have the best customer service departments. Ideal hatchery comes in right below them in polling, the consumers love the great deals they offer. Meyers did not get near the recommendations as the other hatcheries. They do, however, offer a great selection at a fair price. Hoovers Hatchery has always done right by me. So, I was a little surprised by their lack of customer recommendations. I hope this helps you to pick the perfect hatchery for all your chick needs.
These are my opinions and not Community Chickens’.
Wants pullets of some ornamentals in paskistan do you help me to know which hatchery is best for overseas shipments
I want to order some duck
When I was deciding between online hatcheries, the first thing I did was look up Araucana and Ameraucana chickens . If the hatchery had an incorrect description or either, or had a breed called “Americana” (with an “i”), I cross them off of my list, because that means the hatchery folks are either lacking in knowledge about what they sell, or are sneaky.
The next things I check are if they offer Mareks vaccinations, and if they sell sexed chicks. If either of those are a no, then that hatchery is crossed off of my list!
You have listed some hatcheries that I have never heard of, so I am going to check them out!
I’m surprised to see McMurray didn’t make it into the top 8. I have not ordered from any of them yet but I’ve been doing a lot of researching, reading reviews, comments and discussions in many multiple chicken and poultry groups on FB, watching YouTube videos, etc. McMurray seems to me to be one of the best. My impression of Cackle while not bad has been much lower than most…
So far my top choices would be McMurray, Meyer, Ideal, Cackle and Hoover. Haven’t seen or heard much of the others…
My experience with Hoover was a disaster. 3 BCM pullets were all cockerels – no fun trying to rehome them. Speckled Sussex (13) all arrived dead and actually stunk – in 2 day shipping they smelled like they had been dead for days. Welsummers (9) were all very weak but with much attention, etc. they actually pulled through. 1 of them is actually mixed with RIR or New Hampshire as far as I can guess. Quality is sub par of these chickens.
Ordered for end of March delivery in Georgia which has unpredictable weather but nonetheless them coming from Hoover’s in Iowa it is still cold and they had no heat pack in the box!
When I spoke to another hatchery about the situation they said the Speckled Sussex were probably shoved in a corner at the hatchery or post office with no air flow and so traveled the entire trip dead. Also this was NOT the 1st time they have heard about no heat packs being included in the box from Hoover.
Meyer’s is a hit or miss hatchery. Seems alot of people I know have experienced sudden death for no apparent reason (like a few months in). They (Meyer & MPC) also state that when ordering splash breeds that you will get either splash, blue, or black. Other hatcheries state you will get splash. Why would I want to pay for a splash only to possibly receive a blue or a black? Meyer’s prices are ridiculous on some breeds.
Example: Lavender Orpington: Meyer’s & MPC: $24.55, Cackle: $12.95, Mt. Healthy: $10.00. Their Orpingtons aren’t anything special to justify the price.
Mt. Healthy had salmonella issues several years ago but they have good stock and they are Salmonella monitored since that incident. An outbreak can happen in any hatchery, at least they were open and honest about it.
Cackle has good stock. Only downside is that you have to order minimum of 3 of each breed if ordering females. Their customer service is superb.
Any hatchery can have a customer service rep. with a bad attitude. Just hang up and call back to get someone else or tell that bad attitude rep. you want to speak to the supervisor.
I agree with poster who stated order the older established breeds (Australorp, RIR, Rocks, etc) if ordering from Murray McMurray.
To me, it is less important how much I pay at the beginning, but how true-to-the-breed the chicks are and how they turn out to be in a year or two. I have bought from two companies so far, Myers and Ideal, I am reasonably satisfied with both.
Heey I know my family hatchery isn’t on this list BUT please try my dad out, we know Hoovers and do business with them, he has been hatching since he was 16 and is 65 ..we stay in waterloo wi and ship every where! Look us up
I know this article is a few years old, but I prefer McMurray Hatchery and wanted to share why. They are a family-owned business and their owners really care about what they do. My Pet Chicken isn’t a real hatchery, they are just a broker. Hoover’s has been bought our by a large corporation and ships to all of the TSCs. Ideal is a large operation and the small poultry owners are not their bread and butter. Meyers is a good option, but they also have a core business of providing started birds to the commercial poultry industry. I prefer the small business focus of Murray McMurray Hatcher and how they remain focused on their core customers. Just my two cents.
I have had good experiences with Murray McMurray also.
Id recommend NEVER buying from Tractor Supply or Cackle Hatchery.I bought from Tractor Supply Mail Order and instead of getting Leg Horns I was sent Cornish Hens.Also I bought 10 turkeys from them only 1 lived and grew up but was always sickly and died in a year.Tractor Supply wouldn’t make good,so they basically ripped me off.Cackle Hatchery were were rude ignorant people to me.
Hi, just wanted to let you know that we ordered barred rock chicks the first week of july and they have all made it so far. They are growing and are so pretty. We would highly recommend you
I’ve raised chickens for almost 50 years now and the only hatchery I’ve ever used is Murray McMurray. I have never received any dead chicks in an order and they’ve always been lively healthy chicks. Customer service is top shelf too. My only suggestion is to stick with their Reds, Rocks, Leghorns, Australorps etc. and if you are considering a specialty breed contact a breeder that specializes in them. 5 stars and thumbs up for Murray McMurray!
Thanks for the great review … we are first time chick purchasers and found this information very helpful! Much appreciated!
I have ordered from Meyers a 3 – 4 times with mostly mixed results, specifically with regards to chicks not meeting breed standards, for instance, Delawares with barring that was almost nonexistent and crooked toes from day one. However last year was the final nail in the coffin. I had ordered Pilgrim geese early in the spring with a June arrival date. The plan was to raise them as a project with my granddaughter so imagine my dismay when I went on their website to check my order the evening before their expected arrival only to see that it had been canceled. A call to customer service the next morning revealed that while the young lady couldn’t tell me exactly why, it was likely that there weren’t enough goslings to fulfill all of their orders which led to my question of, “At what point did they know that there weren’t going to be enough?”. By June your chances of ordering any waterfowl for that year are virtually nonexistent. Two lessons learned, granddaughter got a lesson in handling disappointment and my take away is to buy local from now on where I know what I’m getting and if I’m going to get it.
I agree, Myer does not have good genetics and doesn’t need bred standards. I received 4 Jubilee English Orpingtons – u have been breeding long enough to say they just fall so short of the standard that Mayer’s should be embarrassed!
Have you ever heard of California Hatchery?
We placed an order with CA Hatchery for the first time at the beginning of this month, for an end of the month shipment. Although what we ordered was listed as available, we received an email advising they would be shipped the end of August. They gave us the option of 4 other breeds, that were “now” available for July. We chose one of those, and received an email they were shipped 2 days ago. The USPS tracking indicates a label was printed-but they have yet to receive anything from the hatchery. I emailed them this morning, and have not heard back yet (although there is a 3 hour time difference). Forget calling their number – it is an automated message that tells you they are not available, and to contact them by email. So far, I would say, we have not had a good experience with them.
I order Cornish from Welp. They are always the cheapest. I am not sure why you said Ideal had the best prices. Maybe I have my information wrong. If I can save money please let me know.
Thanks for this rundown on hatcheries. I have never ordered any but am looking to order several and your info was outstanding. And I love you included everything, from truth to opinion!
Sorry I ordered from Cackle last year and all were DOA. I called them for replacement and they put me at the bo of their list even though I placed my original order in February! Called Hoover’s and got some very rare breeds in a week! All healthy and fluffy! Love Hoover’s!
My pet chicken is a middle man of Meyer hatchery. Most are middle men. I like cackle and Meyer hatchery s. Great choices!
I agree. I think My Pet Chicken should be more up front that they are just a broker.
I had a terrible experience with “my Pet Chicken/Meyer “ I didn’t know my pet chicken wasn’t a hatchery. I ordered 14 Black copper Marans and three died on arrival from weakness. The 4th died just after the 48 hour adjustment period. Then, they started getting sick with what I thought was pasty butt. I continued to loose them when I called my pet chicken a week later, I had 6 left. They were super helpful and told me use corid. If I knew they were sick and stated corid sooner I might have saved them but only the biggest strong little rooster is still living. I know they were infected from the hatchery and they were really expensive! It was sad to see them die and also to loose the money. I’d never order from them again. Even paid for the vaccine they offer.
as far as cackle hatchery goes, in my opinion other than the price is good i had no customer service and the chicks were poor at best.