Purchasing From Hatcheries and Breeders 101 For Dummies

Discussion in 'Chicken Breeders & Hatcheries' started by StephensonC, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. StephensonC

    StephensonC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been contemplating and researching the possibility of purchasing some chicks from a hatchery or breeder in the spring. However, I find it to be a little confusing, since I've always purchased mine locally. What kinds of things do I need to look for? What would be a red flag warning to let me know not to use a particular hatchery? Do they all vaccinate or just certain ones? I've seen there are some more popular ones here on BYC. What makes them stand out from the rest? If I want to get a "true Blue Ameraucana", where would I need to look? I worry about getting an EE instead. What else do I need to know? I won't be using them for breeding or showing, they would just be my eye candy. Thanks! You guys make chicken keeping so much easier for me!

    Please let me know if I've posted this in the wrong place so I can repost, as I would like to get as much feedback possible.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You can look at the top of this section for some comparisons. Read those carefully though. A whole lot of the complaints are about things that happened after the chicks left the hatchery, either in shipment or by the people getting the chicks not knowing what to do with them. If you ship 80,000 to 100,000 chicks a week there are bound to be a few mistakes, but the vast majority of the time they get it right.

    Mt. Healthy has been reported to have had a salmonella problem each of the past three years. That’s a red flag to me. I don’t know anything that would stop me from using any of the other major hatcheries but maybe some people have something to say about that. The different hatcheries have different minimum shipping levels and different pricing methods. It’s not just about the price per chick. Shipping and boxing charges can make a difference. Not all have the same breeds either.

    Vaccinating costs money. Hatcheries are not going to vaccinate unless you pay extra for it. Different hatcheries offer different vaccinations and have different pricing methods.

    Each hatchery is different. They offer different things, have different business models, and have different people running them and selecting the birds that are allowed to breed. You can generalize on a few things but for many I don’t have a good way to see many differences until you get chicks from them. The same breed of chicks can look different form different hatcheries.

    Each breeder is different. Boy are they! Some breeders breed purely for show. The only things they worry about are things the judge sees. Some breed for show and also production, or maybe show and behavior, or maybe all of these. Some breed for production and/or maybe behavior and don’t worry that much about show qualities. Some that call themselves breeders get hatchery quality chickens and sell those when they don’t even know what the SOP is. Some are not worrying ab out a specific breed but are trying to create their own designer chickens. I got some hatching eggs from a lady working on a new color/pattern of Ameraucana.

    The only way I know of to choose a breeder is to first decide what you want, then talk to them. Try to find out what they are breeding for and if they know what they are doing. It can be really rough.

    You will not get an Ameraucana from any hatchery. Any truly pure chicken will have to come from a breeder. Every hatchery I know uses the pen breeding system. That’s where they put maybe 20 roosters and 200 hens in a pen and hatch the eggs. The randomness of them breeding means you won’t get many that are that close to the SOP no matter how well they choose the breeders. Even top quality breeders that carefully select one rooster to mate with one or two specific hens hatch a lot of chicks that don’t qualify as show chickens.

    If you are just looking for eye candy, go to a few shows in your area and talk to the people that have chickens you like. Even their rejects ae likely to look pretty good.
     
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  3. jtn42248

    jtn42248 Overrun With Chickens

    You will pretty much do o.k. if you stick to one of the larger hatcheries that have been in business for a long time. They have not survived by doing schlock work or selling sick birds. As for vaccination...Some hatcheries offer vaccination for an additional fee while a couple vaccinate all their birds. You want to make sure which you are getting because if you choose to vaccinate you will not want to use medicated feed as one will essentially cancel out the other and will be a waste of money. I do not buy vaccinated birds nor do I use medicated feed. I do watch, quarantine before merging, etc. all the things you should do anyway. And I have had no problem. If you have and maintain a small flock you may find that the need to vaccinate is not essential. You can always call the major hatcheries and make sure they do what you request.

    As for getting a "true Blue Ameraucana" you may have to actually find a breeder. Most hatcheries cleverly word their descriptions to allow for EE's along with their so-called Ameraucana flocks. I would only trust a breeder if I was going for a "true" of any breed. You would usually get a better quality of the breed than from a hatchery. That said, I am very happy with my breeds (Wyandottes, Rocks and Andalusians) all of which are from hatcheries.

    Which ever direction you decide to go, hatchery, breeder or a little of both, you will find excellent recommendations as well as help here at BYC. You can always do a little research by searching for the breed you want and reading the threads associated with your results.

    Best of luck.
     
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  4. StephensonC

    StephensonC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just came across a breeder online that advertises and reads like the following:

    "Easter Egger also know as Ameraucana" and
    " The true Ameraucana or better described as the Easter Egg Chicken"

    This would be incorrect, right? Can they legally advertise like that? It is very misleading to someone such as myself, or anyone that's inexperienced. Wow......MUST BE CAREFUL

    Thanks for the warnings you all!
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    People say the wildest things about what their birds are and are not. Hatcheries are really no different, to be honest. Hatcheries for example, often attach pictures on their websites "borrowed" from poultry shows, to suggest that the "breeds" they sell are this or that. In reality, 99 percent of the hatchery birds would likely be DQ'd at a sanctioned show, by the poultry judge, as failing to represent the breed.

    There is no breed police running around handing out tickets so the burden is on the buyer. Buyer Beware, Caveat Emptor.

    To find birds faithfully bred to the Standard, you are much better off researching a "breeder" to be sure they are truly a breeder and not just running a backyard mill. The APA publishes breeders directories as does the national club for the breed in question. Propagation or reproduction is not breeding. Go to a major poultry show in your area and see the birds in person. Unless a person has a reputation that is reasonably well known in the fancy, you are not very likely to get well bred birds.

     
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  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    And now the flip side, if you will. I also do my due diligence when it comes to non-exhibition birds as well.

    I often purchase a flock of top brown egg laying birds, as chicks. I want the true, reputable birds, such as the commercial sex links from ISA/Hendrix Poultry. I felt confident knowing that decades of scientific research has gone into these top laying hybrids. I want the real McCoys, not some unknown, backyard concoctions that may or may not lay well and have good feed conversion.

    So, I don't mess around. I go straight to TownLine Hatchery, Zeeland, MI or purchase them through local retail outlet that I know for certain that TownLine supplies weekly with ISA Brown chicks. I know what I'm getting. I don't have access to HyLine or one of the other top commercial hatcheries to their egg laying birds. I do know that TownLines is licensed facility for the production and sale of ISA Brown commercial birds and that they get their parent stock directly from ISA-Hendrix.
     
  7. btguy

    btguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i went in going for 'purebreeds' not because i care anything about breed or shows but because i want specific egg colors (easter egg basket grin) even with that i have frequently not gotten what i thought i was both from breeders and hatcheries. sometimes that has been good (brown egg layers who lay pink or cream with dark speckles) and sometimes bad (repeated ameraucana who lay green eggs (including one ameraucana purchase that turned out to be easter egger and out of 6, 3 were roos, 2 were silkies, and one hen who should lay any day now)). id strongly suggest getting eggs to avoid bringing in disease and visiting the flock to see exactly what you are getting. once i get confirmed blue egg layers i will be set.
     
  8. jtn42248

    jtn42248 Overrun With Chickens

    Do a search on "are ameraucana and easter egger the same" and try to understand what all they are saying. It is more complicated than I think any human can fathom. They are not actually being fraudulent but unless you understand how the various breeds came together and how they are identified as unique from one another you can end up with something you don't want.
     
  9. btguy

    btguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Tho only original blue chicken egg gene is from araucana however the gene for their tufts are lethal when duplicated. Ameraucana were created by hybridizing them and eliminating the tuft gene. Ameraucana have very specific traits ... Same as creame legbar. Easter egger are any chicken with the blue egg gene which can be expressed as blue or green. While both ameraucana and cream legbar and even araucana are Easter eggers, only EE with those specific traits are actually ameraucana / araucana/ cream legbar
     

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