If raising or keeping backyard hens is a dream you are now ready to realize, you’re definitely in for a great adventure. After doing all the research, selecting a coop, and feed for your bird, you are probably at the stage of acquiring a little flock of your own.
As an aspiring owner of backyard hens, it may be difficult to know where to buy backyard chickens. Let us help you with this short guide covering the key places where you can buy backyard chickens and how to select the hens that will be right for you.
Before you buy – key considerations for buying backyard chickens
There is more to sourcing chickens for sale than a cash purchase of a few birds out of the boot of a car and hoping for the best. First, settle on the age and characteristics of the chickens you will be raising and keeping.
These key factors will not only determine where you buy your chickens but also their suitability for your coop or yard:
. The age of the chicken you are going to buy.
Purchasing day-old chicks is a completely different experience from buying a point of lay hen. If you are purchasing chicks you will need to raise them to maturity yourself. This is an intensive task as young chicks and pullets have specific feed and environmental needs that have to be met precisely for them to survive.
. The breed of your hens
Breed will determine not only the physical characteristics but also the productivity (egg-laying) and temperament of your birds. It is important to know the breed as if space is limited in your coop you may have to have fewer of a larger breed.
. The sex of the chickens
The noise, aggression, and territorial nature of rooster means that many owners of backyard hens will avoid keeping them.
. The number of eggs needed
Most laying hens will produce on average one egg per day, which can be a helpful guide to the number of hens you will need to supply your household.
. Are the chickens for pets or productivity?
People don’t just keep chickens for eggs. You may be a fancier, keeping a specific breed for shows, or just enjoy keeping some hens as the family pets.
5 of the best places to buy backyard chickens
Here are the five main sources for purchasing chickens for your backyard. Research is key. Also, be prepared to travel to find a trustworthy vendor who sells healthy and well cared for animals. If they are a responsible farmer or breeder they will be bothered about who you are too.
Hatcheries provide a controlled way of getting the specific breed of chicken that you want. These agricultural facilities specialize in supplying day-old chicks that are hatched using artificial incubation.
Select and purchase the chicks you want online, and you will receive them boxed by next-day delivery. You must be ready to receive your new chicks with food and water as they will be hungry and fatigued after their journey through the mail.
- Classifieds like Craigslist etc.
Classified ads are a great source of poultry of all ages and if you are not too fussy about the breed or age, you may be able to buy some beautiful birds.
As with other purchases via the Want Ads, there is the potential to be scammed. Do your research, never meet sellers alone, and always view your new hens in person before buying.
- Animal rescue charities
You may be able to re-home ex-caged hens via an animal charity that specializes in caring for them. Ex commercial laying hens make great pets and usually provide a few eggs too!
All you need to provide is a voluntary donation to the shelter you get them from.
- Local farms
Getting in touch with a local farm is another way in which you can find quality, productive poultry. You may be able to find out about farms or homesteads that have hens for sale at your local farmers market or farm supply store.
Specialist breeders are an expensive source of hens for sale but if you are looking for a exemplify specimen of a specific breed, a certified breeder is the way to go.
In the US, a certified breeder will be registered with The National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) and have exemplary health, quarantine, and biosecurity practices.
Before you hand over the cash… Last-minute tips for buying backyard chickens.
- Buy in person: We can’t emphasize enough the need to purchase your chickens in person. There are scams aplenty and you do not want to be left with chickens that are sick, deformed, or not what you envisaged.
- Handle your hens in good light: You must check your hens over as much as possible before taking them home. Look at the condition of their feathers, combs, and wattle. Check the vent too. Feel the hen for any protruding bones that may indicate that it is underweight.
- Observe the chickens: If you are selecting your new hens from a flock, observe their behavior. Inactive, quiet of huddling chickens are likely sick or diseased.
- Determine the sex and health status of the hens before you leave: Finding out that you are raising a flock of roosters is a shock that few owners can handle! For backyard hens vaccination status is not a priority, but the seller should be able to tell you if this has been done.