Is buying from hatcheries a no-no?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Trish1974, Oct 9, 2016.

  1. Trish1974

    Trish1974 Crowing

    Mar 16, 2016
    North Central IN
    My Coop
    First of all forgive me if this question is in the wrong forum - I honestly had no idea where to place it. I am wanting to start a second flock next summer of mixed breeds. I am in a very rural part of Indiana where there is a whole lotta nothin', definitely no poultry breeders. I figured I would just order some chicks from one of the popular hatcheries however reading through different threads on this site I have seen many members comment "typical poor hatchery stock" or other negative comments regarding birds from a hatchery. What is the down side of hatchery stock? Is there one hatchery better than another? I am not looking to show or breed chickens, just have for eggs and my own personal enjoyment.
  2. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Crowing

    Sep 2, 2014
    Canton, Ohio

    So far 80% of my hens came from hatcheries (Meyer & Mt. Healthy both from Ohio) only a few from a local breeder. I got very good experience with them, good health and good layers within almost 3 years w/ hens am pretty satisfied w/ them, I still considered myself as a beginner poultry owner.

    There will always have a chance of bad stock on every hatcheries depends on the type of breed and and the parents stock. My first batch of hens of 10 Leghorns , Wyandottes & Plymouth Barred rocks I considered a beginnners luck for me. Since I consistently got 7-10 eggs from them for the first year. The following spring I added French Copper Marans from local breeder & some Rhode Island's from Mt. Healthy - Cincinnati, they are consistent layers but not as great layers as my first batch. I still have all of them except one that got out of the run and got taken by an aerial predator. The 3rd spring (this year) I got bolder and ordered Ameraucanas, Easter Eggers, Australorps, New Hampshire's & Black sex links and more barred rocks, which am pretty happy with, I might add more breeds next spring after I retire my first batch that are slowing on laying on 3rd season. I will be trying from Murray McMurray & My pet Chickens just to see how they're chickens are this coming spring, otherwise I will stick to my previous sources which I have good experiences with. By the way I always like ordering and raising them from one day hatched since I feed them organic. Hope this helps
  3. trudyg

    trudyg Songster

    Jun 3, 2013
    I had very good luck buying from Murray McMurray. When I first started, I got birds from just anywhere-even swap meets-- and then learned about diseases, etc. So, I decided that the prudent thing to do is go directly to the breeder/hatchery. I got exactly what I was expecting and was confident that the vaccinations had be administered. No complaints.
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Hatchery stock is unlikely to be show quality, a major complaint if you plan to show birds, except in something like 4H showmanship. HOWEVER, many of us order from hatcheries with great results, as far as having a nice home flock. I've ordered from MMcM, Meyers, and most recently Cackle, and am very happy to get healthy Marek's vaccinated chicks. A friend and I place one order in spring and share the birds, great for both of us. This April we ordered 40 chicks from Cackle, and 47 arrived, all healthy survivors. Wonderful! Some of these birds do match the breed standard too, a bonus. It's fun to get different breeds; there are so many choices! Mary
  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Also, in my experience, hatchery birds tend to be better layers, while birds bred for show may be pretty, and not so great inegg production. That's a huge generalization based on only a couple of experiences here. Mary
  6. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Songster

    Jul 18, 2013
    Kalispell MT
    What they mean about the birds being typical poor hatchery birds is that they are not show birds. They will not look like those ideal pictures you see. It would be great to go to a breeder who shows and has gorgeous birds, and pay the price for those show birds. However, I have a mixed flock so I could name each birds as they are more pets than anything. I don't need show birds to enjoy them.
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Since you don't plan on showing, hatchery birds are just fine. I order from Murray McMurray and have been happy with the birds I've gotten from them. If you just want a mixed flock, look into their package deals. MMcM has a Rainbow Layer package that will give you several different breeds and costs a little less than ordering specific breeds separately. I would think that whichever hatchery you choose to go with would have something similar.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I’m glad you mentioned your goals. Without knowing your goals it’s really hard to comment on a question like this. If you were breeding for show then I’d say hatchery stock is a bad idea. Hatcheries are in the market to mass produce chickens at a reasonable price. Each hatchery is a different business with different people selecting which chickens get to breed so there can be differences in the chickens you get from different hatcheries, even the same breeds. It depends a lot on what the selection criteria is from the individual people that select the breeding birds. Some might emphasize one thing, some another. Most use the pen breeding method, they may have 20 roosters in with 200 hens with mating being random. That keeps genetic diversity up but does not lend itself to producing show quality birds. In general hatchery birds often lay pretty well for the breed and generally look like the breed they are supposed to be, but very few of them are close enough to the breed requirements for showbirds to not be disqualified. For your goals hatchery birds should work out pretty well.

    Then you have the breeders. These are really varied. Some breed only for what a judge sees at a show. They study the SOP and gain a lot of experience so they can breed grand champion show birds. A lot of these people ignore any traits the judge does not see. These traits could be anything from egg shell color to productivity traits, how well they lay or how well they convert food to weight gain if you are interested in meat birds. A few breeders also breed for the traits, behavioral and productivity, that the breed is supposed to have as well as show traits. There are very few of these. One breeder who bred Rhode Island Reds said there were only three flocks of RIR’s in the US that met this criteria.

    You have some breeders that breed less for show but more for productivity, maybe egg laying or maybe meat. A few might breed for longevity of lay. A lot of hatchery birds are bred to lay really well the first two or three years but then the rate of lay can drop significantly. Part of my criteria is to breed for hens that go broody a lot. There are just all kinds of different things you can breed for. But you also have some people that take hatchery chicks and just breed them without having specific goals or any knowledge of how to breed for goals.

    If you can find a breeder that knows what they are doing and is breeding for your goals that’s a good way to go. For your goals hatchery birds are probably a really good choice. Another option, especially if you want started pullets, is to contact your neighbors on your state thread and see what they have to offer. I may be confusing you with someone else but I think we’ve discussed started pullets before.

    For your basic question, in my opinion most of those negative comments you read are either from people that have specific goals that require birds from breeders that know what they are doing and are breeding for those goals instead of the mass produced chicks you get from a hatchery. Or they are from people that have read those negative comments and repeat them without having the experience themselves. Some have had bad experiences with hatchery birds, but if you hatch 80,000 to 100,000 chicks a week you are going to have occasional shipping problems or problems with individual chicks. I had a less than great experience with chicks from a breeder, I didn’t quite get the exact genetics I expected. When you deal with living animals you occasionally get less than perfect results.
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    There is nothing wrong with a healthy live bird. If you are getting started, go with that. Good luck, you have years to play with this hobby, trying out different birds, different breeds. If you ever want to go with a bit higher quality bird, you might check out Sandhills Preservation. It is a mom and pop hatchery, I have had good luck from these people, and I think that their birds are a bit better genetically, a little higher quality bird.

    But if you want birds, go to the ag stores in the spring, and 10 to 1 you will do just fine.

    Mrs K
  10. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Songster

    Oct 16, 2015
    Also a Hoosier. You might check the Indiana BYCers thread. There are usually some birds for sale, maybe in your area. Not sure where you are. Most of my birds have come from Murray mcmurray. Like you, I'm not showing or breeding, and they're perfectly good birds.

    Hatcheries are just fine.

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