I'm going to preface this with a bunch of these, before starting in on my rant, so that perhaps my current frame of mind may be explained a little better... And now that you may have an idea of how this is going to go, you have the opportunity to continue reading, or go back to the tool bar and click "recent posts" to be taken away from this thread. This was your fair warning, I am not responsible for your feelings if you continue to read. With all of that being said, I feel the need to address a few issues that I see popping up at an alarming rate this time of year. It is of course hatching season, and poultry keeping is growing at an alarming rate. With the combination of these two circumstances, many people often look to breeders for "show quality" or "breeder quality" birds, and often they want them at a very cheap price. As much as ANY of us would like to just GIVE AWAY our birds, at some level this is business, and as with any business taking a loss is just not an option. Losses are bad business, and with too many of them said businesses usually come to a quick end. There are three ways of raising birds (in my opinon) that I have observed. The first requires an area big enough to put a chicken coop in, and a few birds with the right parts. This particular way doesn't require a specific breed, color, or characteristics. The females just have to lay eggs and the roosters just have to fertilize them. This is whats commonly referred to as a "barnyard mix." These so called barnyard mixes, are usually the cheapest birds you will find, and if you are only interested in eggs, meat, or the companionship of a featherd friend then this should suffice. It's affordable, and provides a means to the product that should suit your needs. The second way of raising birds also requires a space or area big enough for a coop, but a little different approach on the birds. This particular way pays attention to the detail of the actual BREED of bird or birds that the breeders works with. They may all be of the same breed, and color, and have the characteristics that you are looking for, but often TYPE is not given the proper attention. These birds, are usually all of the same making, run free, breed, and produce chicks that appear similar to the name which they are called. These are usually a little more expensive, since after all they are more specialized than the 'barnyard mixes.' This way of breeding is commonly called the 'backyard breeder.' The third way of raising birds, as with the other two, requires space for coops, but this space is usually carefully planned and thought out. It's usually fairly expensive, and EXPANSIVE. It will usually span the area of an entire backyard, or the full area of a barn. In addition to the space, the cages and pens are usually meticulously cleaned, kept, and sanitized. The feeding regime in this particular way of raising birds, is often better than the diets the humans in the household eat themselves. Custom mix recipes, hand grated ingredients, and highly nutritious supplements ensure that birds will LOOK their best, and be at the tip top of the health pyramid. Medical care is also of the utmost importance. Regular testing ensures that the birds are free of diseases, and regular treatment ensures that the birds are free of internal and external parasites. Breeding strategies are carefully thought out and planned, and each bird put into a breeding pen is carefully evaluated for areas that may need improvement. When those areas are identified, that bird will be specifically paired with another bird of equal or higher quality, so that subsequent offspring will hopefully have improved type. When the resulting offspring are hatched, the process starts all over again. Starting with cages and pens, feeding, healthcare, parasite treatment, testing, and eventually another strategic breeding. This entire cycle repeates itself year after year after year. This style of raising birds is often referred to as the 'professional breeder.' So as you can imagine, as compared to the first two styles of raising birds, this particular style will dictate that birds produced will be of a higher value, and thus a higher price. When you (generally speaking, not you personally) decide that you want to raise poultry, a lot of thought should go into WHAT you are wanting to raise, as well as the QUALITY of what you want to raise. If you simply want the cheapest, most affordable birds for meat and eggs, then obviously the 'barnyard mix' would be a proper fit. If you want something a little more specialized, that will still serve the meat and egg purpose but look a little more uniform, the 'backyard breeder' may have something that will fit your budget a little better. And if you are looking for something of the utmost quality, that will or can serve the purpose of meat and eggs, as well as take to you a show or two, or give you something to brag to friends about, then the professional breeder is usually your best bet. But no matter which person or style of breeding you choose to obtain birds from, you should take into consideration all the factors behind that style of bird, and expect to pay for, and recieve the kind of birds associated with it. Is it cheaply manufactured and easy to come by, or is it specialized but still affordable, or do you want the top of the line? When you make that decision, dont expect to pay anything less than what those birds particularly are. I said somewhere in another thread that buying birds is like buying a car. Would you randomly drive down the street and pull into any dealership without researching said dealership beforehand? Probably not. You'd want to buy a car from a dealership with an established reputation for knowledge of the car they sell, as well as customer service. And along the same lines, if you're buying a car, you wont get a Cadillac for the price of a Kia. It just wont happen, and if it does its usually from a used car lot, or 'previously owned' situation. Moving on, alot of people tend to snub "pro breeders" because the price of our birds are usually outside of their budget, or complain that we dont offer any 'help' or advice. They tend to judge the 'pros' as people who think they are better than and above the rest. In fact it is usually quite the opposite. 'Pro breeders' dont sit around and devise plans and strategies to keep others from enjoying the hobby that we so passionately love. On the contrary, we often try to 'recruit' new people to share our passion, so that they too can reap the rewards of a constructive hobby. It just so happens that when we try to offer advice or help, it is usually what you (again generally speaking) dont want to hear, or the advice given will require too much financial output and/or time, energy, and effort to complete. It could easily be compared to a college student not doing the homework that a professor has assigned. If they dont do the homework, how are they expected to learn. And on the same token, whats the purpose of the professor teaching, if the students aren't intersted and only hear what they want? After time, and time again of being told that we are wrong, or it can be done a different way, or just plumb refusal to listen to our advice, why would we continue to offer more? Its rather frustrating and disappointing when you work this hard to learn as much as you can and do the best that you can, only to be told that you know nothing, and/or are ridiculous for doing something the way its been done for years and years. So before you (generally speaking) expect to buy a Cadillac at the price of a Kia, judge others based on erroneous facts, proclaim to be excluded from the 'group,' or complain that you aren't getting the help that you request, take a look at your goals and approaches and really evaluate them for accuracy. Are your expectations outweighing your budget? Is your need for information more than you can comprehend? Are you exerting the necessary effort, and self initiative to attain your goal without the silver platter? And are your thoughts and opinions based on facts, or distorted views based on the small world around your backyard? The above is written from a personal observation and opinion. If you dont agree with it, it is perfectly acceptable, since you are just as entitle to your opinion as am I. The point is not to change the world, but hopefully inspire some thought and ongoing evaluation. Like I said, I gave you a fair warning in the beginning. With that, I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. I feel much better, and its a great day outside (at least in Texas). If you dont want to think about the above, again click "recent posts" and find something a little more intersting and appropriate for the weather. Better yet, go outside, clean a coop, feed a bird, and enjoy the hobby!