Hatchery questions


Nov 19, 2020
I’m worried that the chicks might end up being boys or die along the way.

You will pretty much find the same stories (good and bad) for all the established hatcheries. When you hatch 80,000 to 100,000 chicks each week in season and ship a lot of them, some things will go bad. But a lot will be good or they won't stay in business. Each hatchery is different since each is a small business, often family run, with different people running them. But you should be able to order with the same confidence from any hatchery that has been in business for several years.

Major hatcheries have experts that can sex chicks by looking in the vent. These people may vent sex tens of thousands of chicks on a hatch day, so they are working very rapidly. Sometimes the differences between boys and girls aren't that clear. They don't always get it right, especially working at that speed and after many hours or sexing chicks. Most hatcheries give a 90% guarantee, that 9 out of 10 will be sexed correctly. From my experiences they do better than that, they are right more than 90% of the time. But others have different experiences. There is a bit of luck involved. If I want boys I order boys. If I want girls I order girls. They are pretty accurate but there are mistakes. I ordered five Delaware pullets and got one cockerel. In the same order I ordered ten Black Australorp pullets and got ten pullets, no boys. So 14 out of 15 were correct. My other experiences have been in that range.

With certain chicks you can order sex linked chicks. These are not breeds but are crosses. If you set up the parents genetics correctly you can tell by down color what sex they are. All major hatcheries have them. They often have marketing names that include "comet" or "star" but can be called something else. If you are looking at a specific hatchery if you let us know which we may be able to tell you which ones are sex links. You can be really assured of getting the right sex with them.

As far as them dying during shipping, it can happen. I've never opened a box and found a dead chick and I've never had one die a day or two after they arrive. But any time you deal with living animals you take a chance of dealing with dead animals. When I hatch them myself I can occasionally have a dead one with no shipping involved. That's the way life works.

The big problem happens when there is a delay in shipping. That usually has nothing to do with the hatchery but does with the post office that does the shipping or the airlines that fly them. One of the things you can do to reduce these shipping risks include avoid ordering around postal holidays. Another thing is that delays happen in extreme weather. Try to avoid ordering when you are likely to experience a blizzard along the shipping route. Nobody can predict when tornado will shut an airport. You typically don't have a good forecast when you order so try to pick better times of the year. There is some luck involved in this.

I don't know where you live but try to pick a hatchery fairly close. They will fly chicks from the east coast to the west cost, which isn't totally horrible, but the more stops along the way the more opportunities there are for something to go wrong.

The way it should work, the chicks will arrive at your local post office and they call you to come pick them up. When they call, go get them, don't wait around. Have the brooder ready when you get home with them. The first time I was expecting chicks I talked to the people at the post office to find out what their procedures were. The chicks often arrive before the post office is open. Find out what you need to do if that is the case. With mine I had to go to a back door and ring a bell so someone could let me in to get them. I I had not talked to them ahead of time I could have been confused. Make sure the hatchery has your correct phone number so they know what phone number to put on the box.

Any time you deal with life things can happen. A huge majority of shipped chicks arrive fine, but some don't. The further down the distribution line your local post office is the more opportunities for something to go wrong before they get to you. Bad things can happen, but they usually don't.
Thank you! That is a lot of info. I didn’t know there were such good odds in the sex! This definitely will help me decide!!


Wattle Fondler
May 23, 2017
Greenville S.C, formerly Noneya U.S.A
Now see this is a perfect example of everybody has different experiences with some hatcheries.
Meyer was great but I used Hoovers last year as a test and had zero issues.
Meyer Hatchery is phenominal. Best experience is with them. McMurray is good too. I would stay away from Hoovers. I have now had three bad experiences with them.

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