We've had chickens for a few years now. My 12 yr old daughter even started selling eggs to the neighborhood - hence our awesome username Unfortunately, three weeks into her new business we had to kull all 30 of our chickens. In our effort to boost our egg supply (hey, we had a wait list!), we bought some pullets off Craigslist. Within a few weeks of bringing what appeared to be healthy chickens in, half our flock was showing signs of some kind of respiratory infection. We separated, treated and continued the cycle for what felt like forever. I finally gave up when our recovered birds started getting sick again and we went from over 3 dz eggs a week to none (we stopped selling long before that of course). During all this I called Texas A&M Poultry Science Necropsy department to see about having one of our sick chickens tested. The DR spoke with me and was a wealth of knowledge! In the end we decided it wasn't worth the cost when the outcome would likely be the same...killing them all and starting over.
The DR said I should never buy from anywhere but a large scale mail order company and to buy hatching eggs or day old chicks only to avoid having to go through this again.
Now my daughter wants to give hatching eggs a try. She got an incubator for Christmas and is eager to start her first hatch. My problem/question is, I've read about the low success rate of shipped eggs so I thought I'd try to go local and pick them up myself but I can't find anything online that appear to be a large scale hatchery with sanitation procedures etc in place in our area. Do I go back to the dreaded 'Craigslist' for hatching eggs or risk mail order? Which is better? We're in Austin TX and willing to drive a few hours if need be if you know of any reliable hatcheries.
We've already got a flock of 2 month old chicks that we purchased as day-olds through mail order. The thoughts of bringing in another virus makes me a nervous wreck. I know it can't be eliminated, but I'd like to reduce our odds as much as possible while still having a chance at a successful hatch for my daughter. I appreciate any input you might have!