Finally, a GOOD hatchery experience!

Discussion in 'Chicken Breeders & Hatcheries' started by 4H kids and mom, Mar 10, 2007.

  1. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    I just wanted to post about our recent experience with ordering this years batch of chicks. First of all, I live in Wisconsin and its roughly 22 degrees out right now.

    Our children are in 4-H this year and wanted to give raising poultry a try, so our first big choice was the hatchery to order from. Obviously, Murray McMurray comes up first and they are supposedly 'the best'. My children wanted a specific breed, and McMurray's prices were beyond the means of a first and second grader (they wanted to buy them). They're price for the order we wanted was $56.25 plus shipping of $9.25 for a total of $65.75. So, I began looking at other hatcheries.

    I was warned by others that the 'smaller' or 'family' hatcheries had 'lower quality chicks' or that they'd had 'poor shipping experiences'. I went on anyway.

    I came across Sun Ray Chick Hatchery and decided to give them a try. We ordered 25 St. Run Americana chicks on a Tuesday. Our cost was $27.50 plus shipping of $4.50 for a total of $32.00, which was still far less than McMurray's price. We were told they'd arrive by Thursday, and so we waited. On Wednesday, the post office called and told us our babies were there! We drove to pick them up early that morning. It was VERY cold.

    When we arrived, we noticed several other boxes as well as our own, and I decided to be nosey. Of the 5 other boxes, 4 were from McMurray and one was from our local feed store. The chicks in the feed stores box were healthy and pipping. In THREE of the 4 McMurray boxes, all but a few of the chicks, poults, ducks, or geese within were perished. The vent holes on all boxes were left wide open for cold air to blow right through. There was a few pieces of long hay on the bottom of the boxes, but nothing else. The fourth McMurray box contained a mix of ducks, geese, chicks, and poults (and possibly guineas?) and most were dieing. The live geese were picking at the dieing chicks. Very sad.

    Anyway, our box had tape over most of the vent holes and contained shredded paper for warmth. At first glance, all chicks appeared healthy, minus one that had been at the bottom of the pile and was no longer living. We collected our box and headed home.

    When we removed each chick to place in the brooder and counted them, we realized that Sun Ray had sent us 30 chicks instead of 25 at no charge! Minus the one lost during shipping left 29. Over the next few hours, two that had appeared weak from the box began to show distress and despite my best efforts, we had to put them out of their misery. We now had 27 healthy chicks.

    It has been a week. All 27 chicks are live, healthy, and growng quickly! The variety of colors is amazing too! Some are growing ear tufts, some have beards, some have neither, and some are rumpless. We are quite pleased with their varieties! We were so pleased with our experience with Sun Ray that we intend to use them again, as well as tell everyone looking for a hatchery to give them a try. Due to what I saw in the McMurray boxes at our post office, I doubt I will ever order from them. Poor babies.

    If you've had any experience with Sun Ray, please tell me about it!
  2. CountryMama

    CountryMama In the Brooder

    Mar 10, 2007
    West Michigan
    I have never tried that hatchery. I did a local pick up for Townline Hatchery in Michigan though. I really enjoyed my experience. I still received 2% extra for warmth despite the fact they werent going to be shipped. So I ordered 100 and got 108. I lost a few when we had that ice chilly wind storm a few days ago but I still have 99. They really seem to be a decent hatchery and I plan to do more business with them in the future.
  3. gamebirdsonly

    gamebirdsonly Crowing

    Mar 5, 2007
    where is sun ray located?
  4. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    Sun Ray is located at 106 North Main St, PO Box 300, Hazleton, Iowa 50641 Their phone is (319) 636-2244 and here is the link to their website
    They will also brood your chicks, ducklings, goslings, or poults for 0.03 per day after hatch if you don't want to brood them yourself. They don't carry everything, but they carry enough for most of us chicken folk! They also post pictures of their breeding stock for each breed (chicks only) which I've never seen a hatchery do. You can see the mamas and papas your chickies will come from. I liked that. Here is a listing of the breeds they carry and some prices for comparison:


    JUMBO CORNISH ROCK BROILERS- Pullets 0.72 Cockerels 0.85 St Run 0.75
    HYLINE GOLDEN COMET BROWN- Pullets 1.25 Cockerels 0.55 St Run 0.75
    BLACK BEAUTIES- Pullets 1.25 Cockerels 0.55 St Run 0.75
    WHITE ROCK- St Run only 0.80
    RHODE ISLAND RED- Pullets 1.25 Cockerels 0.55 St Run 0.75
    BARRED ROCK- Pullets 1.25 Cockerels 0.55 St Run 0.75
    NEW HAMPSHIRE REDS- Pullets 1.25 Cockerels 0.55 St Run 0.75
    BUFF ORPHINGTONS- Pullets 1.30 Cockerels 0.65 St Run 0.80
    W-36 HYLINE WHITE- Pullets 1.25 Cockerels 0.55 St Run 0.75
    CALIFORNIA WHITE- Pullets 1.25 Cockerels 0.55 St Run 0.75
    AMERICANAS- Pullets 1.55 Cockerels 0.85 St Run 1.10


    PEKINS (White duck)- 2.50 ea
    ROUENS (Colored duck)- 2.50 ea


    EMBDENS (White goose)- 5.00 ea


    WHITE TURKEYS- 3.50 ea
    BRONZE TURKEYS- 4.50 ea

    They send out far more than the usual 2-4% in extras too. I ordered 25 and they sent 30. Thats 25% in extras! Twenty Five Percent! NO hatchery I've ever heard of does that! I plan to use them when we place our waterfowl order later this spring (for ducks- probably Rouens -and maybe a turkey or two) if anyone here would like to go in on an order with me? You have to have an order of a minimum of 15 ducks or turkeys and we dont need quite that many! Anyone in Southern Wisconsin, or near the Ill border, or Northern Ill?
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2007
  5. ssledoux

    ssledoux Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    I've only heard positive things about Murray McMurray. I better not get dead chix in my boxes this weekend!
  6. wolfpack62001

    wolfpack62001 Songster

    Mar 6, 2007
    New Brockton, Alabama
    I have to Defend McMurry!
    Ive had nothing but good to say about them, yes they are pricey, but the service you get is Top Notch.
    Another good hatchery is Cackle Hatchery, they offer smaller numbers for shipping thus cheaper, plus a great selection.
    Hope this helps
  7. 4H kids and mom

    4H kids and mom Cooped Up

    Mar 10, 2007
    Southern Wisconsin
    I just want to say that I'm not bad mouthing McMurray. I had heard good things too, and have talked to several people that had a good experience with them. I just wanted to post about my own experience, and from what I saw in the McMurray boxes when I picked up my chicks. I dont want anyone here to think I'm trying to shut them down or anything! lol I'd never seen a dead chick before (since I'm brand new to chickens) let alone dead ducklings, goslings, and poults. It shocked me that they weren't protected at all from the elements. I heard someone here before say something to the effect that if we 'cant wait until the weather warms up enough to order them and insure survival then we shouldnt order them'. Some of us dont have the luxury of being able to wait. Such as those of us involved with 4H who have to have chickens with a certain hatch date in order to use them in our local fairs or for showing. Also, the hatchery I ordered from looked at the weather report for the time of delivery of my chicks before shipping them, saw that it would be cold, and made sure they were well insulated and protected from drafts. I'm sure McMurray probably has an excellent reputation, but from the boxes of carcasses I saw, I am sure I wont be one to buy from them. Thats just MHO.
  8. blue90292

    blue90292 Songster

    Jan 30, 2007
    Rosharon, TX
    that is strange about mcmurray's packaging. when i got my chicks from them, they had put in styrofoam walls for extra protection from the cold and there were no vent holes to speak of. someone there must have messed up on the packaging thinking spring was here.
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    They do have good prices and I'm glad you had a great experience. I just wish they knew how to spell the names of the breeds they have, LOL!
  10. beejay86

    beejay86 In the Brooder

    Mar 15, 2007
    Western Massachusetts
    I prefer to get my chickens at 4-6 months so I don't need to bother with raising them from babies. I get mine at Brookside Farms located in West Townsend Mass. It's a little drive for me, but it's the closest I could find. Someday I might try them from babies but for the price, I can't argue!!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: