For those new to raising chickens, the topic of buying chickens often comes up. Where do you find healthy birds to start your at-home flock? The good news is there are several ways to get your first set of birds. Let’s look at some of those now.
One of the most common ways to get started with your own flock is to buy chicks. This is also one of the best ways to get started. Starting your flock with chicks offers many benefits that you do not get when you buy adult birds or fertilized eggs that must be hatched.
A prime benefit you get when you start with chicks is they are alive! Attempting to hatch fertilized eggs (which you can also buy) often results in many dead chicks. This can be especially true for those who new to hatching eggs. When you purchase chicks to start your flock, you have a, normally, healthy set of birds to start off with.
Buying older birds to start your flock can have some pitfalls as well. One of them being that it will take a lot of time for the older birds to adjust to one another and to you and your family. When you buy chicks, they more or less grow up with the other chicks and with your family. This makes them much more social and docile as they age.
Before you shop for chicks, consider what type of breed you want. There are over 60 breeds to choose from. You should also consider the purpose of the birds. Are they for egg laying, for table meat, to be pets, etc. The term “dual purpose” bird means it is suitable for both egg production and for meat.
Ordering your chicks is easy. Search for hatcheries that have the breed you want and simply order the number you need. Most hatcheries require you to buy a minimum number at one time, but this is not as bad as it sounds. Chicks need company anyway, so you are just providing them with they need when you buy several.
You will normally have better luck if you shop for your chicks in the Spring time. Having your chicks at this time of year allows them to gain weight and strength before the winter sets in. Most people prefer to buy females; if this is true with you as well, make sure you order females, also known as pullets.
Once you order your chicks, make sure you have clean, warm place for them to stay. Brooder boxes are very inexpensive and a good heat lamp can be found cheap as well. You will need both of these once you get the chicks home. Normally, they need to stay under the lamp for at least a few weeks.
You will also need to have a watering system in place for the chicks. These can be purchased online and generally you want at least one, 1-gallon system for every fifty birds you have on hand. Some old-timers like to add about one teaspoon of sugar into the water as this helps boost the chicks energy levels.
Chick starter feed is the best option for your new birds. Feed this to them for at least two months. A feeder system that is two feet long will handle up to twenty-five birds.
When buying chickens online don’t be surprised if you have to pick them up at the post office. This is normal. The Post Office will notify you when they come in and you should get them that same day. In some areas, they may be delivered right to you door, but be ready to go get them just in case.