I used to get my chicks from a larger scale hatchery but when I found out what their practices were with the males born it hurt my heart to support them. I get it, they are businesses and cannot use precious space or spend money on feed for males that most folks don't want but it is still a gruesome business.
I still wanted chickens of my own so I started with a small incubator then got inspired and upgraded to a cabinet and so the story goes - now we have around 300 chicks/chickens running around our four acres in individual pasture.
Everyone is locked safely at night in movable coops and is not caged or penned during the day - they get to free range within their poultry fenced pasture and all are rotated as fresh pasture is needed. All of the breeds we work with are rare and beautiful - rainbow egg laying breeds (French blue Copper Marans, French Black Copper Marans, Sweedish Isbar, Breese, Black Double Laced Barnevelders, Jill Reese Cream Legbar, Heritage Welsummers, Svart Hona, Pavlovskaya, and little Serama) that we sell at all stages to folks (hatching eggs, chicks, juveniles etc. etc.) All the while whenever a male is hatched and not purchased I raise it along with everyone else.
I call my small scale hatchery/breeding style "humane hatching and breeding" because no life is taken needlessly. What males are not purchased are given away to families who need food - it is not a perfect solution but at least the juvenile males get to have a longer life and serve a purpose of helping people eat. All animals are allowed to do what they want to do - take dust baths, run around in the sun and have access to sunshine!
This style of raising a large scale of chickens is labor intensive but it just makes sense to me if being humane is something important to folks. When I want out to an individual breeds coop and pasture they all come running to me - I get to see each breeds unique querks and note it for customers so they pick the right breed for their family/breeding program of their own.
We are in Northern California and ship nation wide come February, I am happy to give you all any more information!
Is anyone else out there doing something similar? :)