Buying New Chickens
This is our page designed to help anyone looking to buy hens.
There are some fundamental things to ask, observe and understand BEFORE you set off on your chicken buying visit to any seller/breeder.
We are not into the 'hard sell' when it comes to poultry, we love all our birds, and treat them respectfully. You do not have to buy birds from us, but if this information can educate you in what to look for, then we are happy to have helped.
OK, so you have decided it's time to buy some hens, everything at home is set up and you're very excited.
"Buying Fever" can result in your own "Flock Plague". Be wise. Pity purchases often end in tears.
Consider WHERE you are looking in terms of adverts. A reputable seller is happy to pay for advertising, they are happy to display a landline number and most have some form of website, like this.
Free classifieds are a mixed bag and it is often difficult to discern the good from the bad.
WHO are you dealing with? Go with your intuition on how you feel about the person you are speaking to/emailing about their stock.
Whilst on the telelphone or email ASK about the CONDITIONS the birds are kept in, reputable sellers are not offended. Their type of feed, routine (e.g. free ranged, barn or in pens) and any vaccinations or worming programme, plus anything else you may feel is important to you.
AS A POINT FOR CONSIDERATION ~ THE EXTREMES OF WEATHER: EXCESSIVE RAINFALL DURING END OF 2012 AND INTO 2013 - BIRDS KEPT IN CONFINED OVERCROWDED OR OVER USED GROUND WILL BE STANDING AND SCRATCHING IN TERRIBLE CONDITIONS. BIRDS IN THE HEAT WAVE OF SUMMER 2013 NEED SHELTER AND PLENTY OF SPACE.
I have seen horrendous conditions of birds cramped into an allotment on heavily poached ground, and riddled with parasites both internal and external. I know this because afew years ago I purchased them out of pity. None made it through quaratine and our treatments, and one was blind through bullying. They all displayed negative behaviours as a result of extreme stress, e.g. feather pecking/eating.
Are the pictures of the birds the sellers own photos? BACKGROUND of any photos will give you some idea, when you visit - are you seeing what you saw in the photo/website? It doesn't hurt to ask that very question when you ring someone to enquire about birds.
There is nothing wrong with a seller who buys in birds to 'grow on' and sell, in this competitive market it is almost impossible to hold parent and grandparent stock to produce the hybrids to the market price point, or the productivity of the commercial birds.
Most hybrids are bought from a main grower at either 'day old' or pullets to sell on.
HOWEVER where things start to become acceptable or not, are the conditions the 'reseller' chooses to keep them.
Piling high into a dirty barn or crampled allotment is not the best stewardship for any living creature who naturally likes to graze, scrat and forage. This will give you an idea of what is important to the seller - profit or the welfare of the birds.
Are the hybrids you are viewing stuffed into a barn with no access to sunshine (Vit D), fresh ground or space to exhibit natural behaviour? - You could be taking home negative behaviours which in extreme cases are impossible to stop.
Do they appear stressed and very skitty? (Skitty birds are often a result of stressful surroundings but some breeds are more 'lively' than others)
What state are their feet in? Standing in unclean, never mucked out conditions, can result in loss of toenails or even worse their toes. CHECK THEIR TOE NAILS!!!
Clean houses, fresh water, good quality food and OUTSIDE ON GRASS will produce the best, biggest and healthiest birds. As Creation intended.
We are happy to open up a poultry house and allow our customers to see inside, we have nothing to hide. Houses are mucked out thoroughly once a week, PERCHES SCRUBBED with F10SC (vet disinfectant) every week regardless, clean water everyday, and the hens checked health-wise everyday.
Of course selling poultry is a business and needs to make money, but there is no excuse for poor conditions or bad stewardship of the birds.
This page, like all our articles is a work in progress and I hope found to be useful.