Why Do People Buy Live Chicks From Breeders and Farm Stores‭?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Shadrach, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    About‭ ‬11‭ ‬years ago I went with a person who wanted to raise chickens to a number of breeders in Somerset,‭ ‬a county in the UK.
    I had this idea that buying chicks from a breeder would mean that a hen had reared the chicks until they were fully feathered and ready for‭ ‬sale.‭ ‬At the time,‭ ‬I thought this far better than buying eggs and incubating them because,‭ ‬rightly,‭ ‬or wrongly,‭ ‬my feeling is chicks need mums and dads.‭ ‬I should point out that this‭ ‬feeling was based entirly on zero evidence and minimal experience.

    What I found was the chicks never even saw their mums and dads.‭ ‬The eggs from the breeding hens were taken and put in batch incubators and in these machines the chicks were hatched.‭ ‬Once hatched they were transfered to a special coop where they were kept until fully feathered.‭ ‬Once able to withstand the weather the chicks got transfered to a run and it was in this run we were able to view the chicks and make our choice.

    We visited‭ ‬3‭ ‬breeders.‭ ‬At two of them we were allowecd to handle the chicks.‭ ‬The breeder would catch the chick we showed interest in and pass it to us so we could examine it and then put it back in the run with the others.
    The third breeder wouldn’t let us handle the chicks.‭ ‬We were told that this was in case we carried an infectious disease.

    None of the breeders had footbaths for disinfecting footware before you came into contact with the chickens.‭ ‬None supplied latex gloves or facemasks.‭ ‬None supplied overalls.‭ ‬There was no biosecurity.

    Naturally the person I accompanied fell in love with every chick they saw and would if I hadn’t dragged them away gone home with a carton full of chicks.

    I eventually persuaded this person that the risk of getting a‭ ‬problem‭ ‬chick were too high and they should consider either incubating,‭ ‬or better still, try to find a pair‭ (‬male amd female‭) ‬from a local farm or smallholding.‭ ‬It took a few weeks,‭ ‬which was probably a good thing because we had time to think carefully about the implications of‭ ‘‬getting‭’ ‬chickens‭; ‬coop size and building,‭ ‬local food suppliers e.t.c.

    I don’t know what the breeders and hatcheries conditions are like in any other country but I surmise that they probably aren’t much different.

    We knew a smallholder in the next county who kept bantams.‭ ‬They were free range and he allowed natural hatching and he was delighted that he wouldn’t have to make those hard decisions that I have come to understand in my time here in Catalonia.‭ ‬I’ve found out many years later,‭ ‬you can’t give pairs away,‭ ‬here at least.

    We took home a brother and sister,‭ ‬gorgeous looking young bantam pullet and cockerel‭ ‬reared by a mother and already aclimatised to outdoor living.

    I could give away maybe ten pairs a year here,‭ ‬healthy,‭ ‬used to the climate,‭ ‬some predator knowledge,‭ ‬already plant and bug wise and this would mean I could let more hens sit which is what they want to do.
    I’m sure there are lots of people who keep chickens who would be only to glad to let you take hens or cockerels off their hands who have healthy free range chickens that you could probably choose and check for good health over a few weeks‭; ‬I know I would.

    Failing the above,‭ ‬why not buy eggs and incubate‭? ‬There are some vertically transmitted diseases but the risk of infecting the flock you already have,‭ ‬should you have one,‭ ‬is far less.
    It seems that quaratine is a dirty word even for those who have the space,‭ ‬Yet on this forum there is one post after another where people have bought chicks and they’ve turned out to be diseased, stressed to death in transit incorrectly sexed. I realise that at the right age one may be able to tell the boys from the girls but from what I’ve read the reality is somewhat different.‭ ‬Incubate‭ ‬6‭ ‬fertile eggs and‭ ‬50%‭ ‬of those that hatch are likely to be males.‭ ‬Below‭ ‬4‭ ‬weeks I still have trouble telling the males from females‭; ‬I’m getting better at it but I still get the occasional surprise.

    Part of chicken keeping is knowing that you will have to manage your flock and if you don’t want roosters then you’ll have to kill and if you wont eat them I’m sure you can find someone who will.

    I’ve seen a few posts here from people wanting to rehome chickens but a surplus chicken page might be an idea.

    So,‭ ‬what is the reason people buy chicks when the risks are so high and there are better ways of starting or enlarging a flock?
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
  3. HenOnAJuneBug

    HenOnAJuneBug Crowing

    May 20, 2015
    Ease and convenience. My co-op chicks became fantastic chickens. They advertised pullets, and 100% of them were. Very pleased. I'm in the US.
  4. CCUK

    CCUK Free Flying

    Jan 21, 2018
    North Notts, UK
    My Coop
    I've never bought chicks but I have bought POL pullets. The only time I've hatched it's always been a task to deal with the roosters. Luckily I have always managed to rehome them rather than cull. I think that disease prevention and control in UK has definately had a kick in the preverbials. Since the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001and the annual onslaught of bird flu, people are alot more aware and cautious of communicable diseases. I wouldn't worry too much about hatcheries as they do have a vested interest in keeping and maintain a clean and healthy business. Too much money too lose through lax biosecurity. Auctions on the other hand...ive only been to two and they were both real cesspit where all the excess and ill birds seem to be disposed of for a quick buck rather than do the right thing. This is just my opinion but I don't think I'm far wrong.
  5. 2 many chickens

    2 many chickens Songster

    Jan 14, 2017
    Cool. Not everyone wants to incubate eggs. I guess that's your answer.
  6. Dona Worry

    Dona Worry Crowing

    Jul 5, 2018
    1: Zero desire to buy shipping eggs and ship them to me.
    2: Because no local breeders in desired breeds
    3: because I am a grownup and I wanted to.
  7. Mosey2003

    Mosey2003 Crowing

    Apr 13, 2016
    NC IL
    Incubating isn't like popping a pot pie in the oven and waiting for the timer. There are MULTIPLE factors that can impact a hatch greatly.
    Do you have a quality incubator? (hint, just because it's for sale doesn't mean it's worth a crap). Do you have it dialed in to the proper temperature and do you understand how to adjust humidity? Do you have to worry about power outages at all?
    And then the eggs: are the parents fed an appropriate diet? Are the eggs too large or too small to incubate well? Were they laid in a clean environment, did you sanitize them properly, what temperatures were they at before being collected and then after? Have they been handled roughly? Did you have to buy them and have them shipped? It's quite easy to have a miserable hatch, or no success at all, and quite challenging to maintain anywhere near a 100% hatch. If you're really looking for quality, healthy, robust birds, you can't just chuck eggs into an incubator and hope for the best.

    If you're wanting something specific, it is much, much wiser to actually buy chicks that are already hatched. At least then you know you'll actually be in possession of a number of chicks, guaranteed. It's up to you to do your homework in verifying that breeders have healthy flocks.
  8. Texas Kiki

    Texas Kiki Egg Pusher

    Jul 31, 2015
    Houston, TX
    My Coop
    Buying chicks from major hatcheries in the US is safe. These major hatcheries do practice biosecurity and are regularly tested for some diseases.

    Some backyard breeders do practice biosecurity and have testing done too and then you have nasty people who knowingly sell sick birds. Disgusting.

    Everyone should research the seller before hand and if the seller lets you handle their chicks...walk away.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  9. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    I pleased things have changed. I haven’t been to a breeder in the UK for many years.
    I can see that the foot and mouth outbreak may have kicked the backside of many breeders and farms regarding bio security; the farm I spent my youth on was apparently decimated by the disease.

    I’m going to visit a breeder here in Catalonia next month. They have a good reputation and I’ll be interested to see what their bio-security is like.
  10. Texas Kiki

    Texas Kiki Egg Pusher

    Jul 31, 2015
    Houston, TX
    My Coop
    They shouldn't even let you any where near their birds.

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