Raising Chickens – Purchasing Chicks

Spring time is chick time at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home. This time of year the hatchery and brooders are fully populated with baby birds getting ready to join the rest of the flocks on the farm.

So you may be asking yourself where one gets chicks if they don't already have chickens. You can order them through a mail order hatchery, purchase them at a farm supply store or pick them up from a local hatchery.

Here are a few pointers to help you through the process.

Know the Breed

Before you start shopping do your research and get familiar with the different breeds. Much like dogs, every chicken breed has unique qualities. Leghorns are good egg layers, Wyandottes are calm and Orpingtons adapt nicely to confinement. You want to match your chicken to their environment and your needs. Here is more information about individual breeds.

Where to Get Your Chicks

Baby ChickensBaby chicks are available through mail order, farm supply stores and local hatcheries. To ensure success get your chicks from a reputable hatchery. Check with your extension service for local sources. You can expect to pay around 2 to 4 dollars for day old chicks depending on the quantity, sex and breed.

Mail Ordering : You can order as early as January and schedule delivery for later in spring. Early ordering is a good idea if you have a specific breed in mind because the selection gets slim fast. I've ordered from Stromberg's with good results. You can order all female, all male or a "straight run," which is a mix. As you can imagine chicks are very hard to sex so expect a few males/females in the batch even if you specify one sex. Most often the minimum order is 25. This is the number of chicks needed to keep them warm enough to survive transit. There are a few places that will ship fewer.

Vaccines

Make sure your chicks are vaccinated for Marek's disease. This is an optional vaccine, but worth having. Marek's is a virus that is extremely common and easy to catch. The symptoms include paralysis, drooping wings, thinning and blindness. Besides being painful and often terminal, a flock may be contagious without every showing signs of the disease. To be effective it is important that chicks are vaccinated as soon after hatching as possible. It will add a small cost to the price of each bird, but it's well worth it.

Be Ready Before Your Chicks Arrive

It's important to have everything in place before you bring home your new babies. They'll need to stay in a heated brooder until they are well feathered with bedding, water & feed. Click here to read more about taking care of chicks.

Good to Know: Chick Days

Check out your local Tractor Supply Company's Chick Days promotion. Baby chickens and ducks are available until April 13th, 2012. Visit their website to find a store near you.

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