Small Breeders VS Hatcheries

Discussion in 'Chicken Breeders & Hatcheries' started by gardenmuse, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. As I understand and define these terms for myself:

    Hatcheries are more likely to be a large production, and not necessarily (or even usually) a humane operation in terms of how the laying hens that produce the fertile eggs are treated or the humane disposal of the roosters that comprise 50% of the hatchlings.
    Locally operated Breeders are in my experience a mom or pop type operation who's connection with the birds comes from a love for animal husbandry and therefore tends to be a humane operation overall.

    I try to promote using local breeders in all my backyard chicken advocacy work. (from my backyard chicken facebook group with 477 members to the annual coop tour that is going into its 6th year)

    Does anyone have comments that either support my understanding or refute it? And if you refute it, can you give examples of Hatcheries that have humane practices?

    I'm not trying to stir the pot of contention here, just trying to get a clearer understanding and knowledge of the reality of this aspect of chicken keeping.

    Many thanks for a thoughtful dialog.

    (p.s.- with Spring coming on and thoughts of increasing or starting flocks with new chicks, I'd love to give the facebook group some insightful info on this topic- thanks for your help!!)
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  2. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Many hatcheries offer less risk of unhealthy birds coming to you...

    A lot of small time breeders are not any better for their management.

    Your best bet is to either see pictures of their accommodations (the breeder) and get references from others to ensure less chances of coming into contact with diseased birds. If they allow you to enter their barn knowing full well you have chickens yourself without asking you to at least wear protective shoe covers or change shoes altogether - alarm bells.. They don't practice proper biosecurity.. I would walk (no run) away.

    I've never heard of anyone bringing CRD, Mareks or other carrier diseases from hatcheries.

    Some hatcheries have tours of their facilities via photos.. I can't remember which hatchery did this.. I remember commenting on it and was impressed with the room they provided for their breeder birds.

    However, I still go for breeder VS hatchery because I know how to look for proper breeders. Some people don't, and just assume all breeders are better than hatcheries. Some breeders are just using hatchery birds to breed. You need to do research before you buy.
     
    2 people like this.
  3. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

    3,495
    548
    318
    Mar 6, 2008
    Northern California
    NPIP testing is strongly recommended for those people selling birds. Most hatcheries are part of this as well as responsible private breeders. There are plenty of so-called private breeders advertizing their birds on forums and places like Craigslist who are not part of any program, will lie about origins of breeders, and take advantage of people's ignorance ( not knowing the importance of certain vaccinations, NPIP inspections, breed standards, etc.). Like Aoxa stated, the buyer should know what to look for in a breeder.

    Descriptions such as "hatchery birds" to describe lesser quality birds are often used by private breeders to drum up business for themselves. Those private breeders which have good reputations, speak for themselves and don't need to resort to that. They know what they have and take pride in their work. The same circumstances which compromise certain breeds of dogs take place with chickens. A breed becomes popular, unscrupulous breeders capitalize upon it, and bad stock remains in the marketplace. There exists the irresponsible and responsible among private breeders and hatcheries.

    Breed clubs that serve particular interests are a good place to start for beginners. There are some helpful and good people involved with some breed clubs.
     
  4. BGMatt

    BGMatt Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,031
    475
    208
    Feb 28, 2013
    Battle Ground, WA
    There's probably actually four groups, maybe more but that's what I can think of, and both aoxa and Michael Apple alluded to it.

    Hatcheries: Don't give a hoot about quality, just a bird that lays a lot of eggs it's first year and then gets replaced. These birds often don't match up very well with the Standards for the breed and indeed are often barely recognizable as the breed. Of course if that's all one cares about, they fit that role. Most hatcheries are the safest health wise since to ship to all 50 states they must meet the NPIP standards for each state (every state is different, some are stricter than others)

    "Producers": This is the word I'm choosing to represent private parties that only care about sales. They might have started with hatchery stock, or show stock, or whatever is trendy to try and cash in and make a quick buck. Their facilities may or may not be up to snuff. Often post animals for sale with words like "imported", "heritage" and "rare", whatever can drive up a price. This makes up a small but significant portion of the poultry owning population. They'll hatch and sell as much as they can with no regard for quality.

    Backyard Breeders: These are folks who mean well, but might be lacking the knowledge or facility or other factors to drastically improve breeds. They might not be NPIP members, and might not have the most biosecure flock (usually not from malice). You'll find both hatchery-type stock and breeder quality stock here. Most of these folk view their chickens as pets and don't raise large numbers. They'll sell the occasional batch of hatching eggs or chicks, etc. Probably 80% of people who own domestic poultry fall into this category.

    Breeders: These are folks dedicated to improving their breed. People who breed their stock to the Standard and cull heavily for those traits. The vast majority of them have the simple goal to produce the best specimen of their breed that can exist in all aspects. As far as healthy stock, this is probably your second best option, many breeders take healthy stock very seriously and will cull birds that show any sign of illness to breed a more resistant flock. A breeder often only sells adults, or juveniles and only rarely chicks or eggs because they want to guarantee that the bird you're getting is a good representative of their breed. These folk make up maybe 1% of the poultry owning population.

    You really need to do your research like the others have stressed. Just like buying a dog or a horse or any other animal. Ask questions, visit the facility if the person allows it. View the stock in person at a show if you can't visit the farm. Ask a lot of questions, of a lot of people. Don't rely on the internet, a lot of the greatest breeders alive today aren't online.

    Breed clubs are a great way to start, contacting the APA Director for your area is also a good idea.
     
    2 people like this.
  5. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

    3,495
    548
    318
    Mar 6, 2008
    Northern California
    That's certainly not true. I still have some hatchery hens that just reached 9 years of age and are still laying, just not as often as those first few years. Granted, the egg industry wouldn't keep a layer much over a year. Certain sex-link breeds burn out fast merely because they are small birds bred to consistently lay large eggs.
     
  6. BGMatt

    BGMatt Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,031
    475
    208
    Feb 28, 2013
    Battle Ground, WA
    That was my point. While your individual hatchery birds are doing ok at that age, that isn't common, nor is it something that the hatchery is concerned about is all. Like you said yourself in the last sentence. I'm glad we agree on something.
     
  7. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

    3,495
    548
    318
    Mar 6, 2008
    Northern California
    Which hatchery isn't concerned? Some hatcheries or all hatcheries? Don't you think hatcheries realize how much of their business comes from reputation? If they consistently sold bad stock and remained unconcerned, they wouldn't get any business. If bad stock is witnessed from consumers, they should call them to the floor on it. Breeds known for great egg production have been known to lack those qualities from show breeders who are willing to compromise that quality for a bird that looks appealing. Like I mentioned with white Rocks, coming from a titled "master" breeder who won the Plymouth Rock category at an APA show, that were large, poor egg producing, clumsy birds which lived less than two years, that doesn't mean I can paint all private breeder stock as bad quality. Because I witnessed a judge hand an award to a bad example of a Wyandotte doesn't mean I should write off all APA judges as idiots. I won't go on. I made my point.
     
  8. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    I've never had issues with hatchery birds living short lives. They live just fine. They just aren't a nice example of the breed.

    I know a lot of people with hatchery birds and have never heard of such problems.
     
  9. Vamvakas

    Vamvakas Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,090
    54
    168
    Sep 30, 2011
    North Branford, CT
    Yeah, making sure (the breeder) is NPIP is a good tip that his birds are clean. Not all small breeders without NPIP means there selling sick birds though.. I've heard people buying birds at shows from tested flock and then they come home with coryza, crd, or whatever.. That's why I'm scared about buying adults birds even if they look legit. I forgot who said it on the forums but that person said it's more common for chickens to get diseases from wild birds outside then from other chickens witch is true.
     
  10. BGMatt

    BGMatt Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,031
    475
    208
    Feb 28, 2013
    Battle Ground, WA

    NPIP is really only about Pullorum typhoid and in some states avian influenza. Your state agricultural department would have more information. Some states have other oddities too, like Washington State, unless you have more than 30 birds you cannot be tested and therefore cannot be part of the NPIP program.

    What you said about the diseases from wild birds and everything is very true. All that is a topic for another thread but unless you intend to keep your birds in a totally controlled environment that cannot be accessed by: wild birds of any type, rodents, flies and other insects and even worms can all be vectors of various diseases and ailments, then your birds will likely be exposed to various diseases and parasites. The best way to combat this is to breed for resistance or buy from those who do. This is one of the downsides of hatchery animals as well. Most hatchery breeding birds are raised in sterile environments and therefore do not have strong immune systems (due to their "line" never being exposed to anything).
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by