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 how do you buy healthy chicks 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.
The first step to buying healthy chicks is to put in the time to research the company they are coming from, whether mail order or from a local store or farm.
Need help deciding where to get chicks? Check out our post for all the pros and cons of each method!
Before ever heading into a store, take the time to read online reviews and ask questions from fellow chicken keepers about each company you’re considering.
When you arrive, take note of the general vibe of the store or farm. 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.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to hand pick which chicks you’d like to take home, you’ll want to select the most healthy birds available. But 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 brooder
Red Flags to look out for
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.
Signs of Unhealthy Chicks:
- Bleeding or wounds
- Weeping or oozing from the eyes, nose, mouth, 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.
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 call the Humane Society 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!