Caring for Chicks
Carrying for chicks (baby chickens) can be difficult, especially for those who are new to the world of chickens. However, it can be so rewarding! I personally love having chickens and love having fresh farm eggs every day.
You have a few different options when purchasing chicks for the first time. You can either buy hatching eggs, day-old chicks, or chicks. We will briefly cover all of these options in today's post and I will let you in on my inside source so you can obtain more information!
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You can purchase hatching eggs from a local breeder or online sellers. They are commonly sold by either a half dozen or a dozen, however, a lot of sellers will put in a couple of extra eggs in case some break during transportation.
Locally obtained eggs are the way to go if you ask me. Not only are you supporting your community and its local farmers and ranchers, but you are more likely to get better quality chickens and they tend to hatch the best. Eggs don't travel well and the expected hatch rates can be as low as 50% from "postal" hatching eggs.
Remember, you will need to have an incubator on hand and the knowledge of how to work it. If you are new to chickens, I don't recommend going this route. This way is for those who are more experienced.
Day Old Chicks
This is the most used and recommended choice for many experience levels. Not only can you select which breads you want and when you want them, but you can also buy sexed chickens eliminating non-productive roosters if that is the route you are wanting to go. Buying day-old chicks also lets you purchase as few as six hens, all different breeds.
These chicks are the ones you will see at local feed and farm stores. By the time you purchase them, they will be older than a day, but this tends to not be an issue. However, you will find that more often than not these chicks will be "straight run" meaning they are unsexed and you could be buying either hens or roosters.
You will also find that the selection of breeds is limited but are usually the best route to go for first-timers. The breeds include Barred Rocks, Sussex, Rhode Island Reds, and Sex Links.
A concern about buying chicks this route is the exposure to diseases and germs. They look healthy, but you are not sure if they will stay this way. Make sure they are vaccinated against any ailments such as Mareks and be sure to pick the liveliest chicks in the bunch. The quieter ones may be sick or weak which is something you don't want in your flock.
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If you're just starting out, I recommend purchasing chicks from your local feed or farm store. However, if you don't mind a little more work and are serious about being a chicken momma, I highly recommend purchasing day-old chicks from a local farmer, rancher, or breeder.
To learn more about the life of a chicken momma, my source is "Backyard Chickens: A Practical Handbook to Raising Chickens". I couldn't recommend this book more! It's a wealth of information and answers all your questions about owning and raising chickens.
Good luck new chicken momma! You got this!