Newbie needs help starting flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Yellow Snow, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. Yellow Snow

    Yellow Snow Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 4, 2011
    As a newbie I have a few questions about ordering chicks. I've noticed there's a big difference in price between some popular hatcheries (McMurrays, MPC, etc) and others like Sand Hill. Why the difference? Is it worth it? I'm not planning on showing my chickens but would like birds that are true to type and of high quality.

    I'd like to establish a flock of about 12 bird total with several different types of Orpington (Buff, White, Black) as well as Red Sussex. I've only found one source that has all of these types (Sand Hill). I'd like to order them all from one place due to the complications of dealing with minimum order quantities when I only want 12 birds. I live in a very rural area and I'm unaware of any local breeders. Any advice regarding the best source(s) to acquire my birds?
  2. Buck Creek Chickens

    Buck Creek Chickens Have Incubator, Will Hatch

    Nov 26, 2008
    Neenah, WI
    Quote:the big difference is the quality of the birds, the big hatchery birds are usually poor quality, the only one that's better is Ideal I will only order now from Sandhill or private breeders, but it all so depends on how fast you want the birds, Both sandhill and private breeders do not run on a fast time schedule, rember chickens are live animals, breeders have a limited amout of hens and they do sometime go broody, if you are not in a hurry go with sandhill or someone like them, but if you are in a hurry for your first birds, start with Ideal then go from there
  3. onecent

    onecent Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here in NC where i live, our feed mill ordered from ideal, I got good quality breeds my silkies were beautiful! and i had several other breeds that were nice. i don't know if you have ever looked on craigslist or not, might be a breeder in your area or close by also.
  4. peacockfarmer1

    peacockfarmer1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 11, 2010
    north MS
    cackle has got better deals than mcmurray but not as much selection
  5. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    As a newbie I have a few questions about ordering chicks. I've noticed there's a big difference in price between some popular hatcheries (McMurrays, MPC, etc) and others like Sand Hill. Why the difference? Is it worth it? I'm not planning on showing my chickens but would like birds that are true to type and of high quality.

    several different types of Orpington (Buff, White, Black) as well as Red Sussex.
    There's a brand new Sussex Club which just started. American Sussex Association. You can join for free.
    Do take time to read the book "The Sussex Fowl" by Sharpe which is in the on-line library at the Club's website. Sharpe was a legendary Sussex breeder. He goes into detail in explaining that each of the Sussex colors was bred for a different purpose within the proper confines of the Sussex breed. As you read that, you may discover that one of the other colors meets your needs better than the Red. or you may decide the Red is perfect for your needs. I'm a real fan of the Sussex. Plus they have a wonderful literary history to teach anyone interested in the breed. There are several folk who are members who breed Red Sussex. Don't buy Red Sussex from a hatchery. You will be dissapointed. The color is very rare in America. Breed type is of utmost importance in Sussex. More important than their qualities in egg production or in meat production. The Sussex is a dual purpose fowl. Therefore breed type must be maintained to make sure it succeeds equally well as both a meat and an egg bird. Never one or the other.
    Don't know how to advise regarding the Orphingtons except to quote my teachers who told me to start with birds from an established strain. One with proper breed type which has been that way for generations by way of proper breeding program which included line-breeding and/or in-breeding. Don't worry about inbred chickens. This species can handle it much better than dogs or cats or other mammals. If you decide you want to breed the chickens later on, ask the person you got them from for advice. It's much easier and cheaper than trying to reinvent the wheel, smile. There is a National Orphington Club which should have a list of members so you can find one in your area. In poultry, it is very acceptable to buy from an established strain and continue line-breeding that strain.
    All the best wishes for success with your birds! ,
    Best Regards,
    Karen Tewart
    Director of Archives,
    Marans of America Club
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  6. abhaya

    abhaya Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    ideal doent have a min nubmer of birds to order and they have pretty good quality and variety
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I am not going to get into the quality of chickens from different hatcheries. In my opinion, if you want birds that are true to type and high quality, you need to get them through breeders that specialize in that and know what they are doing. Not all breeders are created equal. Not all nurseries are created equal.

    One reason for the difference in price is the shipping and handling. Chicks can get cold during shipping and die. If you have a certain number of chicks, they can huddle together and keep each other warm. Some hatcheries go with a minimum number of chicks to keep each other warm, some 15 and some 25. Hatcheries that ship fewer chicks package different and will normally include a chemical heat source. There is also a bigger risk of something going wrong and they need to re-ship. The MPC's that do that usually do a real good job of packaging, but it is a consideration. That extra packaging, handling, and risk is what you pay for.

    You can go to the breeder's section and try to find sources in your area. You can go to chicken shows and meet people that raise good quality birds, many of whom will sell you chickens or hatching eggs. You can get hatching eggs through the mail and hatch your own. Of course, you don't know what sex they will be so you will have to have a plan to get rid of the unwanted chickens. Sexing many breeds at hatch is difficult unless you really know what you are doing. Many breeders and Sand Hill don't even try.
  8. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Before you buy chicks I suggest getting on the chick raising section of the forum and doing a lot of reading as to what you will need to take care of them from brooder to coop. While it's been a while since I bought any books on the subject there are several beginner books available through BYC get at least one and read it thoroughly. I'm sure there are a few on here that will recommend a good one as a bible.

    As far as birds are concerned. Since you're not interested in show quality birds and only want a few the best thing is to check around at the local feed stores to see if any are selling chicks in the spring. If there is a Tractor Supply Co. in your area they certainly will. This will do a number of good things for you. First it'll save you money because the shipping on small quantities of chicks is outrageous. Second it will allow you to pick healthy chicks that have been acclimated from shipping. This is where most are lost. Third, depending on the store, you can get a variety of breeds from a reputable hatchery. Finally, the store will set you up with what you need to feed, water and heat the new chicks--although be aware if many employees are not exactly chicken experts. Once you've cleared this step keep asking questions on here as there are people on this forum with a wide range of knowledge that will help. Good luck.

    ETA: If you would be will to give your general location you might find someone on here that will offer you a decent price on chicks. Just be aware that there are breeders and then there are breeders. For a newbie it is tough to know whether what you're being offered is good quality or not, you may be buying problems. In which case you're going to be stuck.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011

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