Purchasing your chickens??


12 Years
Apr 14, 2007
Let's say, that you are going to a poultry sale (or to someones farm). You see the very breed/var/color hen you are looking for. The price is with in your range. You have the cage to carry her home in... Now, you pick her up and start to examine her... Tell us--what you are looking for/at! Do you take the hen out and look at her? Her vent? Do you look at her legs? Comb? Eyes? Do you carry your reading glasses so you can see if she has bugs (mites, scales etc) ? What questions do you ask the breeder/Salesman ? OR does the salesperson handle the hen/bird?

These questions may seem silly to those of you who have done this before but for us newbies it would be a great help.. It could mean the difference in getting home and being happy or 'kicking' ourselves in the morning! Thanks for any and all help...Dixie


BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
15 Years
Jan 11, 2007
NE Washington State
Look for bright eyes, sturdy legs. Look for glossy feathers that are not broken. If they are laying hens, look at the vent. It should be moist and relaxed and should be making "kissie" motions. Hard to describe but you will know when you see it. The comb should be full and red.
The scales on the legs should be smooth and close to the skin. Part the neck feathers and look for bugs. This is not a deterrant if there are a few. Mites on chickens happens. But if it is a heavy infestation or if you see white blobs on the feather shafts near the skin, take a pass.
The crop should not be pendulous, but slightley full is ok.

I am sure I am missing something and others will add to the list.


12 Years
Jan 2, 2008
Midwest U.S.
All I would stress is that you really do look at the legs and feet. As Terrielacy says, the scales should be smooth and healthy looking, not raised or misshapen. One of the most common newbie mistakes is buying birds, especially feather-footed ones, with scaly leg mites. It's easy to miss in some breeds, like Brahmas, Cochins, Silkies, etc.


12 Years
Mar 19, 2007
Jonestown Pa , Columbia County
Terrielacy is right but if you are buying at auction often you can not remove the bird from it's pen. You just do you best to look it over and see that it is healthly in the pen.

If you have the opptunity talk to the person selling the bird. But sometimes they do lie, it is a nasty fact. Most breeds should have a bright red comb but some have a different shade of comb. I like to carry a chicken catalog with me like from MM or where ever so that I can compair the pics to the birds and chicks I am looking at if it is a breed I an not familar with.

I buy alot of birds from the local farm auctions and local farmers. It is amazing what you find at auction some times. Both my phoneix roos came from a local auction and I had a chance to get three more. But I lost the bid errrrr. Anyway it can be alot of fun if you know what you are looking for and at.

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