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 buy chicks from a variety of places, the three most common are: local breeders, professional hatcheries and feed stores. In this 3-part series, we will discuss the pros and cons of each of them.
Of course, breeders, feed stores and hatcheries 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. Today, we will discuss some of the pros and cons that you should consider before buying your chicks from a local breeder.
Buying Chicks from a Local Breeder or Chicken Keeper
Local breeders vary greatly in both their knowledge of chickens and the quality of chickens that they breed. Some breeders may have intensive breeding programs while others might do it purely for fun. Many breeders will focus on a certain breed or style of bird. Because of this, the first step in finding a breeder to fit your needs is knowing what you want! Assessing your flock goals will help you determine what type of chicken breeder you should work with.
Here are some other things to keep in mind if you are considering buying chicks from a local breeder:
Pros of buying chicks from local breeders:
- Age Variety: Local breeders often have various ages of poultry available for sale, including hatching eggs, chicks and pullets.
- Breed variety and quality: If you want a high quality or specialty breed chicken, a local breeder can be a great option. They can often provide high-quality and even show-quality chickens. They may also specialize in heritage or specialty breeds that can be difficult to find elsewhere.
- Local resource: A knowledgeable breeder can be an invaluable resource for questions about all aspects of chicken keeping.
- No shipping: Because the breeder is local, you can pick up your chicks and bring them home right away, without having to go through the shipping process.
- You may be able to view facilities and breed stock: A local breeder may let you see their facilities and the chicks/chickens that are available for sale. While it is nice to be able to view the facilities and the animals, be aware that different breeders may have restrictions due to biosecurity risks. They may even have standards as to where you are able to go on their property. This is actually a sign of a responsible breeder who ensures that his/her poultry are kept safe from diseases that can be easily spread from one farm to another.
Cons of buying chicks from local breeders:
- May not be licensed: A local breeder may not have national or local certifications and inspections. Regulations varies by state and often isn’t required for small operations. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does require that the buyer do their due-diligence to ensure that the breeder is producing high-quality, healthy chickens.
- May or may not be vaccinated: Unlike large hatcheries, a local breeder may or may not provide vaccinations for their chicks. If vaccinations are important in your area, talk to the breeder to see if they provide vaccinations or if they can show you how to order and administer your own.
- Chicks may or may not be sexed: Some breeders are very good at sexing chicks; however, there is always room for error! Other breeders may only sell chicks as a straight run (meaning that they are unsexed). Talk to the breeder to see if they sex their chicks and to see if they have a return option if sexed hens turn out to be roosters!
- May or may not be true to breed: Depending on the breeding program, the chicks may or may not be true to a certain breed. If you are okay with mixed breed chicks, local breeders may even offer a discount. However, if you want chicks that are true to a breed, ensure that you find a breeder who can verify that there has been no cross-breeding.
Where to locate local breeders:
- Facebook groups
- Facebook Marketplace
- Word of mouth
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.