Anyone in NH/MA/VT have extra eggs or birds that want to live in Boston?

Discussion in 'Chickenstocks, Shows, Meet-Ups' started by Gypsylion, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. Gypsylion

    Gypsylion Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hiya!

    Some of you may know that I live just north of Boston and do a LOT of backyard chicken outreach in the area. As the go-to chicken person for all of my friends, and quite a few of their friends (and now friends-of-friends and not-even-friends!), I'm starting to do a lot more "chicken consulting".

    As such, I'm starting a new "chicken concierge" aspect of my business to help folks who want to keep their own small flocks in the city! :D

    I find that most urban chicken keepers really have no interest in going to the swaps or shows, but I do (and therefore already know a lot of you), so as a big part of this business, I want to do more to link all of them with all of you.

    How?...

    EGGS:
    Timeline: Can start now!

    I'm CONSTANTLY getting requests for home-grown eggs and I can't possibly fill all of the requests, even with 9 hens. I have a database I use to rotate through my requestees to be sure that everyone has a chance for some fresh eggs, but I'd love to be able to fill more of those orders. I also know that at least some of you sell your eggs locally, but I wonder if you have access to enough of a market for however many eggs you're producing. So would any of you be interested in being on my list of egg producers?

    The way this would work, I think, is for me to come to the swaps/shows and buy however many dozens of extra eggs from you (based on supply from y'all and demand from my list), and then distribute them to egg-eaters back here in Boston. I've been selling a mixed dozen (bantam and LF) to friends for $4 - if you're fine with that price, great, if not let me know and we'll see what we can work out!

    They don't have to be "organic" (mine aren't), bantam eggs are fine (even the tiny ones!), and it doesn't matter if they are fertilized or not. I'd prefer that they're still coming from a "hobbyist" farm, rather than a larger commercial-type operation, but I think most people on here qualify in that regard so I'm not too worried about it.

    I know many of you keep your eggs to hatch, so I'd love to get a virtual "show of hands" to see how many extra eggs there are and therefore whether this will even be worth it... If you're interested, can you let me know, and include the number of eggs you would be able to provide on a weekly basis?

    BIRDS:
    Timeline: starting within the next few months

    Most of the people I talk to are ordering chicks from hatcheries or getting them from the feed store (which usually come from the bigger hatcheries). I'm all for supporting My Pet Chicken and other small-batch specialty hatcheries, but I know that a lot of you often have extra birds (odd mixes and mutts that would be fine as someone's pet egg-layer, or maybe have purebred birds that don't quite fit into your breeding programs, or some of the more rare breeds that people might like, etc.) so I would love to connect all of you local breeders with the people I'm meeting who want chicks, pullets, or hens!

    I don't have a ton of space, so while it would be great for me to be able to buy extra birds outright and keep them locally for people to come pick and choose, that's not quite feasible for me at the moment. Instead, I'd like to keep a list of what you have available during any given week/month, and I'll figure out what specific clients are looking for and put the two together. Then I'll come buy the birds from you (either come to you to pick them up or meet at a swap), and get them to their new homes closer to the city.

    I'm also working on a "Rent-a-Coop" program (maybe "rent-a-hen"? Still working on the marketing details.) where people who aren't entirely sure they want to make the commitment can rent a chicken tractor and 2-3 hens for a month to see what the reality of chicken keeping actually feels like. Again, I don't have the space to keep many extra hens around, so this would be another situation where I'd assess the demand, then come to you all to find the birds to fill it. (Given that I expect people to fall in love with the birds they start with, there will definitely be a "rent-to-own" option! However I won't rent longer than 3 months in an attempt to avoid people just renting for the season and giving them back in the fall.)

    Questions for you:
    1. Do any of you have any comment on this idea in general? Do you think it's helpful and needed, or are you already connecting with people closer to the city on your own? Do you know of anything that would make it really not work in the long run? Anything that would make it better for you? Anything else?
    2. Would you like to be included on my list of egg and bird providers? If so, please reply on this thread with a) how many eggs you could provide per week/month and b) whether you think you'll have pullets or hens available in the next few months and of what breeds.

    Thank you so much for any input and feedback you can provide on this new endeavor!
    ~Khrysti~
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  2. BlacksheepCardigans

    BlacksheepCardigans Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds super cool! I hope you can make it work.

    The only thing I'd add is that MPC is not a small-batch hatchery. They're a drop-shipper from Meyer and other hatcheries. If you want something closer to a small-batch hatchery (that's also no-kill, which is important to a lot of buyers), send them to Sand Hill if they can handle 25 at once and don't mind having to find homes for roosters.

    Also make sure that people understand about health and that this is a buy-at-your-own-risk proposition. That's a bit clearer at chicken swaps, and there's a more direct line of responsibility to a seller. If you're acting as concierge, you need to do a lot of education about what good condition means, about picking and damage, about mites, and eventually about egg diseases (binding and peritonitis). Many times people will sell (and are allowed to sell; there's nothing illegal or even immoral about it) chickens at swaps that are not exactly in the pristine condition of pampered pet chickens. That's what you'd be dealing with as well, so you'd either have to have expectations very clearly spelled out to sellers (you only want chickens that are beautifully feathered and in good weight, with no evidence of disease or parasites, who are laying daily or almost daily - and then convince them to sell those hens to you instead of keeping them themselves!) or very clear to buyers.
     
  3. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    How many people that close to Boston are looking for small flocks? Do they want bantams or LF?

    I have no problems selling LF birds of either sex locally, but cannot get rid of bantam hens.
    Bantam roos, no problem. I've even held off on hatching any bantams so far this season
    because I don't need a bunch of extra girls to feed. But if there are people looking for some
    bantam layers I'd be happy to put some eggs in the incubator. I have bantam blue/black/splash
    Faverolles, with an occasional white throwback. Blue Favs are extremely rare in the US. Only
    2 other breeders have them.
     
  4. Gypsylion

    Gypsylion Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you SO much for that feedback. I definitely had thought about a few of those points (and what to do when a buyer inevitably decides they don't want a bird or something happens), but not a few others (like about egg diseases). Ideally, what I'd like to do is keep small groups of birds in quarantine at my place for a week or more before handing them over so I can give a better guarantee (after checking them thoroughly when I purchase them in the first place, of course) and get a better idea of their behavior as well. Good point about MPC too... they are currently the go-to for most of the people I'm dealing with b/c they are the sort who want to get 2-4 pullet chicks of a particular breed and have them as pets for however long they live, and that is currently one of the most straightforward places to pick-and-choose like that. Side note: Did you notice that MPC is now selling pullets for ~$75? Whew!
    Lots! I had 12 people at my barely-publicized seminar the other night, and have personally come across another dozen or more people just in the past 2 weeks who are thinking about it or know someone who is. I can only imagine that number will increase if access to birds and coops is made slightly easier, eh? If you have some "extra" LF or bantam Favs I think they'd be a great choice for this! They are unusual and pretty and have such great personalities... :) I'll be looking for both bantams and LF but DEFINITELY only pullets and hens. We're talking about *tiny* urban/suburban flocks of about 2-4 birds and most of these folks won't want to deal with trying to re-home roosters they've already fallen for (though of course I'd help with that). I've actually thought about a future part of this program involving some extra egg incubation of particular breeds that may be in demand, so maybe we can coordinate... :D I was so sorry to hear about Dutch, by the way. I still miss my baby girl (coonhound mix) and I know it will take a special pup to fill that void whenever I'm ready for it. I'll definitely miss seeing that fluffy shadow of yours at the swaps. :-/
     
  5. vnsseed

    vnsseed Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds interesting!

    Right now we can barely keep up with eating egg sales, so for us, that's out. But birds might be an option. We typically hatch weekly from March thru June. We have all Heritage breeds (not hatchery birds).... American Dominiques, Speckled Sussex, Red Dorkings, Nankins (bantam), and a couple of cross projects we are working on. One is a black sex link that is winter hardy and a good forager, the other is the historic dunghill fowl project for museums. We usually have extra chicks from the hatches and we either grow them out and keep, sell, or process them... or sell them as chicks at Westford or Tyngsborough.

    Keep us posted.
     
  6. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    One good thing about the LF salmons is I can sex them by the time they are 10 days old, and often even sooner. That may be an option for someone looking for chicks. If they want young laying hens I can be sure they aren't getting a loudmouth. I have a few that like to hear themselves non-stop.

    Dave, can the Dorkings be sexed early also?
     
  7. Gypsylion

    Gypsylion Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 30, 2009
    Boston, MA

    That sounds perfect! I will definitely keep you in the loop... thanks! :D


    Oh! That's awesome. And also sounds perfect for what I'm looking for. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
  8. NancyB22000

    NancyB22000 Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm really new here, so please excuse me if I've misinterpreted what you are doing. We are just getting ready to have our first chickens ever, which we are getting just for their eggs - not for meat. I only want 3 or 4 hens, but I've just learned from our local feed store that in MA you have to order at least 6 chicks. I don't want 6, and don't know anyone to whom I could give them. Could I get just 3 or 4 female chicks from you? Or, if I order the 6, could you take the extra 2 or 3 and find a home for them? I'm thinking of either Rhode Island reds, or Barred Plymouth Rocks, or both. Hens only.

    We are in Marshfield, south of Boston, but I 'd be willing to travel a bit to either buy the chicks or give our extras away.

    It sounds like you've hit on a really good idea! I wish the best of luck!!!

    NancyB
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  9. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    Welcome!

    First suggestion I would make is to get extra chicks in case you lose one (or more). You may get 6 chicks, but only 4 may make it
    to maturity. (I would keep a minimum of 4 hens.) So a 6 chick order from the local feed store isn't such a bad deal if they have the
    breeds you want.

    If you happen to have all your chicks make it to adulthood you can easily sell extra pullets on craigslist.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  10. NancyB22000

    NancyB22000 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the suggestion - I had an idea that might happen. At what age is a chick considered old enough to think of as having "made it". I understand there are no guarantees, and anything (accident, illness, predators, etc) can happen. I've been around newborn puppies & kittens, but chicks will be a whole new world for me! I can't wait to get started!!!

    Thanks again -
    NancyB
     

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