Tips for purchasing chickens
If you've never purchased chickens before, you might not know what to look for or what to get. We've compiled some tips that will help you make an informed decision when starting your flock.
If you're new to hens, dealing with a reputable breeder or hatchery is the easiest. Go online and read some reviews from past customers. A good breeder will only sell the best birds and make sure you go home happy.
What age of birds?
There are 3 ages of birds you can purchase:
Day old chicks: These birds are straight-run meaning they aren't sexed, so you could end up with roosters. Unless the bird is a sex-link variety, it's not possible to tell a male from a female. These chicks will require special care and will not be able to live outside in the coop for a few months.
Started chicks: These birds are a little older (age depends on the breeder) but still need some extra care and time before going outside.
Ready-to-lay: These chickens are guaranteed to be hens, so you won't have a rooster crowing you awake every day! They are usually 16-22 weeks old and are either laying or just about to come into lay. These birds are the easiest to start with as they can go straight out into the coop.
Birds that are over a year-and-a-half old are sold off quite cheap as their most productive laying period is coming to an end and they are going to start slowing down. These birds will still happily lay eggs for you, but they won't as vigorously as a young ready-to-lay will.
When purchasing birds, give them a once over. Bald patches, cuts or sores, scaly legs are all signs of health issues. These birds may be sick, have parasites or have begun pecking. Look for birds with clear eyes, good comb colour and clean flat feathers.
Bring a box
When you buy chickens, they don't come packaged up. You need to bring an animal carrier or cardboard box that the breeder will put your hens in so you can transport them home. A cubic foot per bird is ample. In the bottom of the box it helps to put down some pine shavings or an old towel to stop them from slipping.
Avoid getting a rooster if all you're interested in is egg production. Hens lay eggs without a rooster around. Your neighbours will thank you for stick to hens only.
- Four Legs or Wings Pets