Time to Order Your Chicks

Woodman
By Woodman on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - 12:09am

Anyone ordering chicks or thinking about it?  Now is the time of year to start planning.  

Check locally at your local farm/feed stores - they often carry chicks. If you live in the Northeast, contant your local Agway to see when they might be getting a shipment so you can reserve some.

Or place an order from a hatchery like Murray McMurray Hatchery. Note some breeds may be sold out for a month ahead so plan accordingly.

I had good luck last year with a batch from them. I got about 28 chicks, kept 12 for myself, and sold the rest on Craigslist to folks who wanted just 3 or 4 birds. I made all my money back and got to try some new breeds not available locally, and met some new people into chickens also!

If you are getting chicks this Spring, post photos here. Will be fun to see how each of our baby flocks grow over the next few months.

And if you're a first-timer, be sure to read Peak Prosperity's Raising Chickens wiki. It contains much of what you need to know to get started, including an overview of the do's & don'ts of caring for chicks. Don't be shy about asking us more experienced folks for advice in the comments below.

Note: If you're reading this and are not yet a member of Peak Prosperity's Backyard Chickens Group, please consider joining it now. It's where you'll find lively discussions on how to raise these fun, feathered fowl. We've got great posts to help first-timers get started, plus regular discussions to keep more experienced hands learning. Simply go here and click the "Join Today" button.

12 Comments

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 3083
Good reminder, Tom

The start of Spring is a great time of year to start or increase your flock with baby chicks, especially if you live northward with the coldest temperatures now behind you.

Chicks are surprisingly easy to raise and extremely cute. They're great to raise if you have kids, who will actually enjoy the chore of feeding these guys because they're so darn endearing.

We raised chicks when we started our flock and it was a lot of fun. The benefits of chick-raising are long-lived: I've found the adult hens we raised by hand are much more docile and easy to handle than chickens we got as pullets (3-months old), who tend to be a lot more skittish.

If you're a first-timer, my quick advice is:

  • Determine how many hens you'd like, and then buy 20-30% more chicks. Nature likes to cull your flock (either by predators, neighborhood dogs or sickness), so plan on some attrition before the flock reaches adulthood.
  • Don't just buy 1 chick. Chickens are social animals and don't do well in isolation.
  • If possible, get an assortment of breeds. It's fun to see the different personalities of the different breeds emerge as the chicks mature. You'll likely decide you prefer certain breeds more and can gravitate towards more of those as you expand your flock in the future. And egg size, color and patterning differs across breeds - giving you nice variety when they start laying. Also, it makes quickly counting your flock by eye easier if they all don't look the same.
robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1182
get a few

 of the "broody" breeds as it'll reduce you're need to buy chicks later. They'll hatch their own peeps and are excellent mamas. However, getting the eggs you want from a broody hen takes courage best displayed in the self defense thread.   robie( game hens will set on a golf ball till titlest is imprinted on their...)

westcoastjan's picture
westcoastjan
Status: Platinum Member (Online)
Joined: Jun 4 2012
Posts: 572
my chucke of the day...

... was seeing the headings of the recent comments and seeing this gem, which can appear to have a different meaning to the unknowing... LOL!

get a few

Time to Order Your Chicks

Could not help but laugh!

Jan wink

westcoastjan's picture
westcoastjan
Status: Platinum Member (Online)
Joined: Jun 4 2012
Posts: 572
my bad, should be "chuckle"

LOL!

Nervous Nelly's picture
Nervous Nelly
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 23 2011
Posts: 209
Ohh you lucky dogs (chicks) !!!

I've been living at my boyfriend's house for 3 years (no garden, too many trees)and I was renting my house to my youngest son and his girlfriend where I had a good garden but the by laws prohibit chickens. So in order to have more resilience I've decided to to sell it and find another house in an area where I can have it all !!!  It's going to be difficult not having a garden this yearfrown.  I feel like a drug addict struggling with withdrawal symtoms.  I'll go mushroom hunting. 

To all have a wonderful season with your brood!!!!

Sonya

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 3083
Coyote attack

Guess I really tempted fate when I wrote this yesterday:

Determine how many hens you'd like, and then buy 20-30% more chicks. Nature likes to cull your flock (either by predators, neighborhood dogs or sickness), so plan on some attrition before the flock reaches adulthood.

Less than an hour after writing those words, I heard my hens making a loud racket in the yard. Something definitely had them panicked.

I ran outside in time to find a coyote hungrily pursuing them. Fortunately, I was able to chase him off before he caught any of my birds. But it was an immediate reminder of my warning that nature loves a chicken dinner.

 

lunableu22's picture
lunableu22
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 19 2011
Posts: 41
Chicken breeds

There is much variation in "personalities" of different breeds of chicken.  I've found that americaunas are very cute, though they tend to be much more skittish,even after hand-raising.  Rhode Island Reds are more aggressive (esp the roosters) than other breeds.  My favorites are Australorps (big eyes, very calm, gentle) and Buff Orpingtons (calm, gentle, pretty).  Buff roosters have silky-looking feathers near the base of their necks and under their wings.  Both Australorps and Buffs are good steady layers with good sized eggs and, if you need them for meat, they are big enough for food.  And bantams are great if you want a chicken that goes broody easily.  They'll set and mother any size chicks, even ducks!  (They do get a bit upset when the ducklings start swimming)  :)  Caution:  Seabright bantams are aggressive.  My neighbor had one seabright rooster that somehow got up high enough to attack his face!

 

I've heard that Naked Necks, aka Turkens, are a great dual-purpose chicken.  (Good for both eggs and meat).  Though I haven't actually had first-hand experience with them, so I don't know how they are for aggressive.  Those who have them, however, rave about them.

 

Enjoy.  Chickens are fun.

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 1019
Turkens

Not aggressive at all but are slow growing. The hens seems to be on the smaller size compared to other breeds but that just might be due to a lack of feathers.  The males we raised for meal birds didn't seem aggressive and they grew to the ripe old age of 23 weeks. 

Our lone Delaware rooster (Pollo Loco) has become aggressive and attached my son last week.  Now the family does not like to go harvest eggs and so we will be having Pollo Loco burritos on Sunday for dinner.  A little step backwards on the chicken resiliency side of things with having to remove our rooster but safety of the family comes first.  And the landlords for the place we rent will probably appreciate the new peaceful mornings.

Enjoy all those baby chicks - so much fun. 

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1182
Jason

I've been at chicks for alotta years and once a rooster crows HE IS tough. Let us know how your rooster crows.There are times where a pressure cooker is insufficient.  robie

Woodman's picture
Woodman
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1028
chicken breeds

I agree Buff Orpingtons in my experience are one of the most gentlest and prettiest breeds.  Anectodally, this trait may be while they seem to be the first ones to get picked off by predators though/  My Americaunas are more active and tend to stray farther from the coop and will go out in the snow when the other hens won't.  Their eggs are easy to tell apart from the others by the blue green color. We can also tell when our rose comb leghorn is laying by her white eggs, as opposed to brown eggs by all the other hens.

We kept one RI Red roosterthat was the most gentle but alert of the six hatched last fall here, and so far he's doing good watching the flock and doesn't crow too loud.

 

Grover's picture
Grover
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2011
Posts: 843
Pullet Surprise

I just got 3 chicks to add to my flock (Welsummer, Blue Wyandotte, Black Astralorp.) My Buff Orpington is a very mellow girl, but a friend has one who is skittish. My mellowest ever was a Barred Rock, but another Barred Rock I had was flighty and mean (her last act before meeting the hatchet was pulling an eye out of a duck.)

Certain breeds may be mellower or more independent, but I think the curve is pretty broad and overlapping. If you get different breeds, you can keep track of them easier. I once got 10 Ameracaunas. A few were identifiable, but they shared enough characteristics that it was tough to identify them when one caused trouble (eating eggs.) Also, if you add to your flock each year, you'll minimize the winter egg laying slowdown.

<Bad joke alert>A young hen is called a pullet and the first egg she lays is a surprise to everyone. That first egg results in something that sounds like a pulitzer prize.</joke>

Grover

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 1019
The Rooster lives on!

That is one lucky bird.  Pollo Loco will be taking up residence with some friends of our and their expanding flock.  They don't have any children to worry about and the added flock protection will be an added bonus for them.  So Robie, no update on his toughness - that will be for another time. 

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