It’s extremely important to start off your chicken rearing experience with the best livestock you can possibly get. Healthy and happy chicks will turn into healthy and happy hens that will live long lives and provide plenty of delicious eggs for your family. But you may be wondering how to buy chicks that are healthy if you’ve never done it before?
How to Buy Chicks that are Healthy
There are several measures you can take as a consumer to make sure the animals you’re buying are the best you can possibly get.
Research your chick source
The first step to buying healthy chicks is to put in the time to research the company they are coming from, whether it’s an online hatchery, a local store, or a farm.
Need help deciding where to get chicks? Check out our post for all the pros and cons of each method!
The first thing we like to do is take the time to read online reviews and ask questions to fellow chicken keepers about different chick supply companies. Everyone has their favorite places to buy chicks, and asking around can give you a good consensus on which places are most trustworthy.
If you’re buying from a local store or farm, it’s a good idea to take note of the general vibe when you arrive. Are the employees friendly and helpful? Is the place clean? Are there any foul smells?
Stores and farms that take good care of their livestock also take good care of the rest of their space. If this place isn’t putting a high priority on cleanliness, friendliness, and safety, you can always take your business elsewhere.
How to pick out healthy chicks
The benefit of buying from a brick and mortar store or a farm is that usually you can hand select which chicks you want to buy. This gives you a huge advantage so you can choose the best chicks of the bunch.
But first you need to know… how can you tell a healthy chick from a sick chick?
There are many signs that point to the general wellness of a bird, and we’ll guide you through them so you know exactly what to look for when you choose your chickens!
Signs of Healthy Chicks:
- Bright eyed
- Smooth leg scales
- Perfectly aligned beak
- No crossed toes or crooked legs
- Clean, dry brooder
- Vent and surrounding feathers are clean and clear of poop.
Red Flags That Chicks are Not Healthy
Just as there are clear signs of healthy and happy chicks, there are also signs of chicks that are ill, injured, or poorly cared for.
Keep an eye out for these red flags, and if you see any of them, certainly don’t choose that chick, but also consider buying from a different store or farm. If even a few of the chicks are unhealthy, and the store is still trying to sell them, they’re likely not a trustworthy source to buy your chicks.
Here are the things you want to look for when buying chicks, if you see any of these, walk away and buy from somewhere else!
Signs of Unhealthy Chicks:
- Bleeding or wounds
- Weeping or oozing from the eyes, nostrils, beak, or vent
- Crooked toes/legs
- Wheezing, sneezing, or heavy breathing
- Slow moving
- Head or wings drooping
- Head or body shaking uncontrollably
- Filthy, wet or smelly brooder
Chicks up for sale should all be perfectly healthy, and it should be clear they were well cared for. If you notice any of the red flags above, ask an employee about them. You should walk away from the transaction if the birds appear unhealthy in any way.
Don’t ever purchase chicks because you feel bad for them or want to remove them from a bad situation. Bringing home sick chicks is a huge mistake, and one which you shouldn’t have to deal with.
Taking home unhealthy chicks can lead to a lot of heartbreak and problems for you down the road. These chicks are less likely to thrive or even survive their young lives. If they do survive, they could suffer from disease or impairment for the rest of their lives.
The biggest issue with taking home unhealthy chicks is the risk to the rest of your flock. Many diseases and viruses that chickens get are highly contagious, and these chicks could easily spread whatever ails them to the rest of your flock.
Another good reason to avoid buying unhealthy chicks is that you just plain should not financially support businesses that don’t treat animals well. They do not deserve your money, and buying from them will only encourage them to continue their bad practices.
The old term “vote with your wallet” applies here, you can directly affect change for future animals by not supporting bad businesses.
If you do notice chicks that are living in poor conditions, or are noticeably injured or ill, notify the store or farm manager. You can also report it to your local ASPCA or comparable group if the situation calls for it.
I do hope this article helps you to choose the perfect healthy chicks to begin your chicken keeping journey! As always, if you have questions, pop them into the comments below and I’ll get back to you!