I live in Round Rock, TX, so the drive to Burnet is a pleasant treat for us. We use Hill Country Poultry exclusively. I have to say, I think they are wonderful. They are very helpful (most chicken people are) and if you have questions and want to talk to a live person, you are always welcome to call. It is a difficult place to find, we also drove by a couple of times, but this is "small town" Texas, what you would expect. Our birds did come with some "pecking" issues on their backs as well, but that said, I think they were much less stressed than had I received them in the mail. My husband and I addressed the pecking behavior immediately, took it very seriously, as these injuries can lead to disaster with your flock. So we doctored the girls tails, with some purple, voodoo, camphor, nasty goop (technical terms here) we purchased at Callahans Feed in Cedar Park - who also have chickens - but no where near the selection in breeds. The goop worked great! The girls absolutlely hate it, we doctored once/twice per week for 3 weeks, and they stopped. The worst of the pecking was directed at the two Speckled Sussex, I believe because of their markings, those speckles were just way too enticing! Some on the Barnevelder's too. We bought 16 chickens from Hill Country, 8 different breeds, all of them have thrived. The birds were already to go into a coop, (no brood lamp needed, a few less things to buy, but more expensive/older chickens) and accustomed to the outdoors. However, we did bring them into garage at night for a couple of weeks, because it was still pretty cool in March.
I pulled up this blog, because today we are headed out to Hill Country Poultry again! Our dogs killed 4 of my girls two weeks ago. A design flaw, they pushed the gate in on the chicken run. We have fixed the gate to now swing out, with a sturdy 2x4 to stop it from ever giving way to the dogs and swing in. I was pretty upset that it cost me (and them) so dearly. I love "my girls"! Today, I will be buying a pair of Silver & Gold laced Wyandotes, White Leghorns, Mottled Java's, and Buff Orpingtons. I am so excited - I love getting the different breeds, they have such unique personalities, behaviors, and attributes! My goal is to have 20 - 24 hens, mostly brown eggs. I want to barter eggs at the Farmer's Market for produce. But honestly, I would do it just to have the ladies, they are so sweet, I just love the sound of them, so calming. Backyard chickens are a GREAT hobby, and make great pets!