waiting to order hatchery chicks & lots of newbie questions


11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
Livingston Parish, LA
I'm amazed how hard it's been finding any local sexed chicks... none of the local feed stores are selling chicks. People I've talked to that have hens, don't usually have roosters I guess. It never dawned on me how hard it would be to find a couple of pulleits locally, or even day old chicks. (a neighbor has some gorgeous hens and a couple of roosters and the hens occasionally take the new chicks on walks around my yard... but turn out they are fighting birds.. I don't know and don't ask what they do with all the little chicks)

Back to my concerns...

The online hatcheries that will sell just a few chicks aren't taking orders... heck, none of them seem to be.

I'm new to the forum but have been following a few posts... and have been researching hens online, reading about 5 books concurrently on keeping small flocks of backyard hens.

I keep learning new things every day... and it's narrowed down my choices for my area (in the deep south) and due to the heat and humidity I shouldn't get one of the hens I've had my eye on, I guess... the heavier black australorp... (7-8lbs) and what about the (buff) orpingtons who are just as big & who both lay large brown eggs. I also like the looks of the Brahma's. Guess I just like the the looks of large birds... dunno.

Maybe I can order the americana? since she's lighter in weight. Is she popular here with any of you?

I talked with an LSU poultry guy who said the university works primarily with Leghorns. He personally has backyard hens that tend to be the most common in our area (for backyards) because they can hide from predators well because of their coloring. He said he had both Dominiques and Rhode Island Reds.

He did say that if I'm ordering day old chicks and only want 2-3 (like I'd mentioned) that I should order at least 10 sexed chicks or I'd be wasting my money, because they won't all make it. There is a small chance to get a rooster in the batch.. and he said that chicks survive best when brought up in larger groups.... and that if I only got 3 chicks, that I might be disappointed. he was really, really kind and spent time talking to me. I'm not trying to pick apart what he told me, because I DO understand that his experience has been dealing with large flocks. But I guess what I'm saying is that from "keeping chickens" the author says that raising 2-3 chicks is fine.... that she doesn't even give them medicated feed, and the survival rate would be high because having such few chicks you can be meticulously clean, etc.... so less chance of losing any. (I do have a fear of coccidiosis especially because I have a 3 yr old beloved house rabbit that could pick up something like that... if the chances were anything but really low than I'd have to get keeping chickens out of my head, because I love my bunny like a child) any advice on that would be appeciated.

back to birds... understandably shipping can be stressful, so if one or two got here sick or weak, that would be hard to turn around. So is the poultry science guy right? I'd already changed my mind not to order pullets, because I DO want the opportunity to bond because these would be potential backyard pets that would under supervision have free run of my fenced yard. I'm still in the process of building a small hen house and just figured out how I'm going to section off a side section attached the the hen house.. kind of like a large run under a shade tree. Very little grass to be had there.. weeds yes... and an oleander back by the fence where it gets light, and I'm unsure if I should move it? Would they eat at it?

The kind poultry man told me he would gladly take any extra hens that survived. I guess that could work out, then I could just pick my favorites to keep. But I do fear that I might get too attached. I fully understand that alot of people keep chickens for meat AND eggs. I've always gotten my pets fixed (including my house rabbit) because it would break my heart to have to find home for pets I'd come to care for. I'm open to growing in this area and try not to get too attached, since I know for a fact that more than 3 would be a crowd.

So these are my concerns and fears. I'd hoped that some of you might have some input and words of wisdom while I'm trying to figure these things out. Sorry this is so long... I'm kind of obsessed right now. And I'm quite serious, that if my bunny could get sick and die then I'll have to forget about having laying hens. So many questions... hope to hear from ya'll real soon...


Premium Feather Member
12 Years
May 7, 2007
Forks, Virginia
Welcome to BYC.

I read alot of concern in your words and a lot of caring. Any chickens you get will be just fine under your watchful eye and caring hands. Don't be afraid to just jump in and hit the ground running. Get some chicks and go from there. You'll be really glad you did!

One thing to keep in mind what ever you decide to get - you can be too clean. Chickens need to develop a good immune system that means being exposed to some dirt. Don't get me wrong clean coops are nice but you don't want them overly clean. I also do not feed medicated feeds.

There is always the chance you will loose a chick or a chickens. Mortality rates are very high in the first month. Of those that make it not all will make it to 1 year and beyond. Sometimes chickens die for no reason whatsoever. They simply die. There is nothing you can do to prevent it. Sometimes they get sick and die. Many times there is nothing you can do to prevent that either because there are many chicken diseases and illnesses that have no cure. This is a fact you have accept even if you want a few chickens as your pets. Most vets won't treat chickens so your on your own pretty much. We all have been there and had to learn how to treat and tend our flock. You will be fine. the chickens will tell you if something is wrong.

You can have the orpingtons and the autralorps in the deep south. You just have to pay attn to their needs in the heat of summer and offer them ice water or even the breeze of a fan. It is that way for ALL chickens. Extreme heat and cold are hard on them and you have use your best judgement and provide for those needs at the time. Los of people here are int he south and raise all sorts of chickens.

It is very hard to sex day old chicks. There is a margin of error that hatcheries make and you end up with a cockeral in the mix. It is very common in getting chicks and something you have to accept. you can try to rehome a cockeral but sometimes they can be hard to get rid of. The man you spoke to gave you very sound advise about ordering chickens. You might want to check with mypetchicken.com. you can buy a smaller number of chickens from them but you pay a higher price for the warming packet and such that is needed to get them to you healthy. Shipping causes stress and you still could potentially suffer a loss.

You could go to your local feed store or co-op and look on the bulletin boards and seek out people with new chicks. I am sure you could find someone with lovely chicks especially this time of the year. You could even post a wated thread in the buy sell trade area here on BYC. You never know if someone is your neighbor and may have a few chicks ready now.

Good luck with any new chicks you decide to get. In all of your concerns don't forget to have fun!

Texas Fluffy Feet

11 Years
Feb 20, 2008
Arlington, TX
Hi alalele! Welcome to BYC! This is the nicest, friendliest bunch of chicken loving folks and I'm sure you will get all the help and encouragment you need to help you get going with your chickens. I have.

I'm sorta a neighbor, I am in Texas- the DFW metroplex area and I know what you mean about the heat and humidity. I am a newbie to it all too and like you I did lots of reading and research before I got my chicks. However, I did go with the heavy breed I wanted- cochin. I planned my coop to have lots of ventilation and to be in a nice shady area. I will also freeze water bottles and milk jugs as well as use a fan on those 100 degree days. I have seen this breed of chicken at local petting zoos so I know they can thrive in this area with the proper care despite the books claiming they are better suited to a cooler climate.

Where I am the city ordinance is only 4 chickens and no roos. My local feed store leaves much to be desired so I decided to order from a hatchery. I chose Ideal because they are local and I felt my babies would spend the least possible amount of time in transit if I got them from someplace close. I ordered and recieved a total of 5 chicks. I know one more than the law allows LOL, but I thought better get an extra just in case something happened and one didn't make it. Upon arrival all 5 were healthy and happy. They were shipped in the sweetest little box with a little straw "nest" to keep them all comfy and cozy. They are only 3 days old now but they are all eating and growing and I am very happy with them. Of course I am attached to all 5 and can only hope that none of these little fuzz butts are in that margin of error for sexing Miss Prissy talked about.

As for your sweet little bunny I wouldn't worry to much about it getting sick from the chickens. I know there is one lady on here who is in Australia who houses her bunnies and chickens together.

I say keep reading, pick what you like, ask lots of questions here, research and build a predator proof coop and run and then enjoy the thrill of getting and caring for chicks who I'm sure will become just as beloved pets as your bunny has.


Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
14 Years
Nov 9, 2007
SW Arkansas
Hi alalele and welcome.
Miss Prissy gave you excellent advice, as she always does and wanna be was right on the money too. I just wanted to add that I am in Arkansas and I chose the brahmas. They are reported to be heat tolerant and I plan to make their coop as cool as possible by putting it in an area where they will have shade from the afternoon sun. In addition, there will be good cross ventilation from the windows (covered with hardware cloth), and we designed the windows so that we can attach box fans for the really horrible days in July and August.
Go with what you like, try not to stress out too awful much, and enjoy!


11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
Livingston Parish, LA
Thank you all for your quick replies today! It's so good to be able to hear from people who enjoy their chickens as much as this group does. Obviously the worry that had me up earlier writing came through loud and clear! I've learned so much from my pet rabbit AND in the first year, from simular forums as this and found invaluable advice. I definately remember that early learning curve when it came to taking good care of my bunny girl. Now things are so very easy and she has never been seriously ill, but I've learned the signs of upset tummies and what to do to help her through it, and even (with the help of the groups online) I was able to nurse a snip I accidently gave her during a grooming session (she's a lop-angora mix) and by the next day she'd made the small cut 5x bigger. We survived that... whew!

It took me a year and a half to track down a vet who would see and fix rabbits. She works on all animals from hedgehogs to horses. She was the third vet I took her to (that would actually SEE a rabbit)and trusted her enough to have my bun fixed. We have the LSU Vet school, but they reserve their services for cases that local vets can't treat. And I found a Naturopath Vet based in St. Francisville who is awesome. So I'm good on vet help for extreme cases... but as with buns, I'm thinking that we, as pet owners are and probably can be the best hands on care to them, since we live with them and what's been fascinating to me about farm animals is just how much knowledge is available and how we can do so much ourselves! That's something that appeals to me!

Miss Prissy, I will definately need to work on coming to grips with the natural cycle of life, and losing some chicks and pets. (it's always been hard on me emotionally losing a pet). The idea that even ending up with a rooster that I'd have to rehome, knowing full well he'll be dinner for someone... is definately something I need to toughen up over. You'd think being a meat eater I'd be better about all that but I've not been exposed to it directly and we all know how growing up buying foods all wrapped and cleaned buffers us from reality a great deal. There is a part of me that is attracted to self-sufficiency and in some ways know that keeping some chickens might be a baby step in that direction. I sure hope anyway... cause I'll be cooking with the eggs... I'm looking forward to the fresh eggs! I'll be reading your words again till it all sinks in.. thank you for your wisdom and understanding. I'm also hugely impressed by your incubator that you built and I saw some of your handywork on your website. Impressive! I love that kind of stuff! Oh, and yes, I won't be too overly sanitary... just am mostly afraid of cossidisis spreading and mainly want to keep the smell down, so that maybe came out wrong

Chicken-wanna-be.. very good to know about the larger breed chickens handling the south with some extra fans and such! That is simular to how people keep rabbits around here.... so very good point taken!

I ran out of time to respond, and have to get to head on in to my job now..
It's good to hear from other southeners, and heres a shout out to Gritsar... thank you both and hope to see ya'll on the boards soon. ohhh I'd better get going, I'll be late... thanks yall!


Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
You've gotten excellent advice here. Best of luck with your birds!

Cocci is everywhere in the soil so you don't have to spread it. It's already there. What you want is the birds to grow a good immunity to it as small amounts are fine, large amounts are deadly. expose them to a bit of your soil where the cocci lives before just putting them out on it. Cocci is a big thing up here since the ground is wet and moist nearly year round, so from what I hear, it is not as bad in dryer areas.

Oh, cocci and chicken lice are both species specific so your kids can't get them.

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