I ordered 15 chicks from Estes , 3 each of 5 different breeds, delivered on Aril 2nd. The chicks all lived and are in excellent health. Really pretty no deformities, and they gave me 14 pullets and one cockerel as ordered. The ONLY issue is I ordered a Buff Orpington Cockerel and received a Speckeld Sussex cockerel, no big deal really. Shipping was around $37.00 I believe, and was about 1/3 of the total order.
Two years ago I bought several Buff Orpingtons seems like it was 6 or 8 from Orscheln in Ozark/Springfield MO and they were really healthy hearty great chickens and I had a really excellent survival rate... until some friend chick sat for us at their place and a predator killed them all.
This year, April 4 I picked up, directly from the Estes Hatchery, 25 chicks... 4 pullets and 1 cockerel for each of 5 breeds: Welsummer, Buff Orpington, Black Australorp, Easter Egger, and Rhode Island Reds. Again, a really great survival rate of 100%. They even threw in an extra Rhode Island Red which turned out to be a second Roo, so he made a fantastic huge pot of chicken and noodles. I loved him a lot... a fine beautiful HUGE young 3 month old, and I was torn about the relationship (and if there should be one) between livestock & pets...I cried and loved on him and thanked him and prayed over him and, maybe this is insane, tyrannous, ludicrous, etc., but I prayed I'd see him again in heaven... UH... even if I do, maybe that's not so wise... but that's just me, and obviously that's a different story.
The one odd detail regarding the survival of my little flock is that during an unusually crazy busy couple of weeks after I had transitioned them from inside the brooder in our garage at night to leaving them out all night, I was having less, daily handling of them... whereas, up to that point, I had been handling and loving on each of them at least twice a day when I'd move them from the brooder to forage outside for the day and then bring them back in and place them back in the brooder.
After a couple of weeks, once I was again able to pay more one on one attention to them each day, I noticed that at least one welsummer wasn't showing up in the evening to roost in their coop. At dusk when I shut them inside an unlit coop, it's a little hard to tell when 26 (25 plus the bonus RI) are all huddled and churning and sometimes being flighty whether or not each and every one is accounted for... but, night after night I could only seem to count 4 Welsummers.
One day when I finally had the chance to let them out one by one, taking special note of each breed, I determined that, sure enough, only 4 Welsummers... BUT... ASTONISHINGLY, I was now counting SEVEN Rhode Island Reds.
YEP!!! 4 pullets... AND instead of TWO roos, I now counted THREE!!!!!!!! My Welsummer TURNED INTO A RHODE ISLAND RED!!! NO... I'm NOT JOKING!!!
Well, as any of you "experienced Welsummer moms and dads" already know, Welly's feathers had transitioned from the finely stippled brown pattern all over to more of a solid mahogany with some black tail feathers some black in the chest and necklace, and the rare shimmering burgundy feather dotted sparsely over his back. HAHAHAHAHA!!! I had to GOOGLE images of Welsummer Roosters to believe that my formerly evenly speckled Welly had begun to look more like the RI's than the rest of his Welsummer family.
A few weeks more have passed and it's obvious he's not an RI... His head and hackles have a lovely metallic copper sheen, his tail feathers are ALL black, his chest is mostly all black all the way down to where the little feathers on his legs end at his knees, and his back and midsection have a beautiful and more generous sprinkling of the vibrant burgundy feathers dotted among the mostly mahogany ones, and his comb is ever so slightly more of a coral color than the blood red comb of the RI roos.
So... ESTES HATCHERY? YEAH... HECK YEAH!!! 100% survival (at what is now 3.75 months old) of my 25 ordered chicks, plus a weeks worth of chicken noodle dinners for two or three. Even if my Welly Roo did temporarily turn into a Rhody for couple of weeks... LOL!
Up date on ESTES Hatchery chicks. All are wonderful, no health issues or deformities and good layers even through the winter. The speckled Sussex Rooster is a real joy! Very good to his hens and non agressive so far. He even tollerated a Silkie roo for several months. One of my Buff orpington hens is broody and setting on 8 eggs that are going to hatch next week. I ordered BO's, Wellsummers, Australorps, Speckled Sussex, and Silver laced Wyandottes. I guess the Wyandottes are supposed to have rose combs and I have one with a "regular" comb. That is the worst thing I see with them though. Over all super happy with my chickens from Estes.