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?