Although it doesn’t seem like it right now, spring is on its way, and you know what that means? It’s time to re-up the flock! Whether you’re looking to buy chickens that are freshly hatched, or well into their laying years, this guide will help you to make an informed decision.
Where to buy chickens
There are many options when it comes to buying chickens, it’s up to you to decide which is right for you and your family.
The easiest way to get the chicken breeds that you want most is to mail order. Places like Meyer Hatchery and My Pet Chicken have practically every chicken breed and even carry some rare breeds you can’t find elsewhere. Keep in mind that ordering chicks or eggs through a website means they’ll need to be mailed to you, which increases risk of loss.
Local farms can be the best place to go to add new chickens to your homestead. Farms are usually reasonably priced and carry chicken breeds that are appropriate for your climate. Ask around and keep an eye out for advertisements in the paper for local farms that sell chicks.
Some large pet shelters have chickens and other livestock looking for a good home. Many shelters that don’t have farm animals still have bulletin boards or online listings for people looking to re-home chickens. Call around to your local shelters to see if they offer these services.
Craigslist can be a great place to buy chickens, but proceed with caution. You can find great animals for sale on Craigslist but you really need to beware when buying chickens here. There are many reasons that people may sell or giveaway their chickens. Some of those reasons are fine, such as moving to a new home, or simply having too many birds.
There are, however, many bad reasons that people may sell their birds on Craigslist. The birds may be sick and the owner doesn’t have the heart to cull them. They may have bad behavior. They could come from bad breeding stock and give you problems down the road. For these reasons you need to be extra cautious when buying chickens from Craigslist. Ask a lot of questions, spend some time with the birds observing their behavior and make a thorough examination to be sure they’re healthy.
Farm supply stores like Tractor Supply usually have chicks for sale every spring. This can be a convenient location to buy chickens, as most people have a farm store locally. Farm stores tend not to carry as many breeds as mail order hatcheries, but taking the ‘mail order’ part out of the equation means chicks that are less stressed when they arrive home. You can also buy many of the supplies you’ll need to raise chicks at your farm store, and the knowledgeable staff are there to help you find what you need.
Things to look for
No matter where you get your chickens, make absolutely sure they were well cared for and the facilities are clean. Never buy chickens from a facility that is filthy, or unsafe for the animals. If you see untreated wounds on any animals, sick animals, or animals living in filth, walk away.
It’s never going to be worth the risk of bringing home a diseased chicken or one that will suffer forever because it wasn’t cared for. Don’t support companies that don’t treat their animals well.
If you’re buying from a mail order site or a well known farm store, be sure to read reviews for their operation before you buy. The more informed you are, the better off you’ll be when buying chickens. It’s especially important to do your research if you’re ordering chickens online. You can’t be there in person to examine the birds before you buy, so you have to rely on the experiences of others. Pay close attention to online reviews so you can make an informed decision.
How to spot a healthy chicken
No matter where you buy chickens from, it’s an absolute necessity that they are as healthy as can be. Healthy chickens have the following characteristics, be sure to look over them well and if your prospective chickens don’t have these traits, take your business elsewhere.
Nostrils are clear and clean. There is no discharge or fluid running out of them.
Eyes are bright and clear. The skin around the eyes isn’t swollen or bright red. There is no discharge coming from the eyes. The eyes aren’t droopy and there’s no excessive blinking
The scales on the chicken’s legs are smooth and the plates are flat. There’s no strange coloring or open wounds on the legs.
The bottom of the feet is free of wounds or infection. The nails lay flat against the toes, and aren’t too long or crooked.
Feathers are smooth and flat, or fluffy and dry if you’re buying a chick. There are no bald spots without feathers. Bald spots, especially around the vent could be a sign of pests such as mites or lice.
The beak is even and closes fully. The top and bottom beak are not bent or broken.
The chicken is able to stand without limping or gimping. The neck is strong and the chickens stands up tall. The head isn’t drooping, the chicken isn’t shaking its head, and there are no body quakes.
There are no wheezing, coughing, sneezing, or rattling sounds coming from the chicken.
We hope this article will help you to find the perfect additions to your flock. Be sure to read our post on introducing new chickens to the flock before you bring them home!
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