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Where to Get Chicks this Spring
Whether you’re planning out your poultry order months in advance, or going for the impulse Tractor Supply buy route; chick season is almost upon us. This post will give you a comprehensive list of different places you can get chicks this spring.
(If you’re still on the fence about getting into chickens, you should check out this post for some of my favorite benefits of having homestead chickens)
I am not getting paid or asked to promote any of these businesses- this is purely my own recommendations based on my experience as a long-time poultry keeper.
About Ordering Online
Ordering chicks online like they’re just another Amazon box probably seems bizarre. (And the people at your local post office may think so too) But It’s actually a really great option.
Online orders give you access to a much, much wider variety of birds to choose from. You can order chicks of any breed or variety you can imagine, plus all sorts of different species like peafowl, turkeys, ducks, etc. Ordering hatching eggs could give you even more options.
Ordering chicks through the mail also allows you to get discounted prices with bigger orders. This can be quite a savings if you have a big flock. Or go in with some homesteading friends to get the discount without drowning yourself in chicks.
Another great reason to order online is how far in advance you can plan your flock. At the same time that we’re sketching out the garden and setting goals for the year’s harvest, we can be planning, and purchasing, our flock. If you’re going to be raising meat chickens to sell, or you have a 4-H’er in your life, having control over the hatch dates can be vital. I tend to order our chicks in January so that I can plan our spring around their arrival- and so I’m not stuck scrambling from feed store to feed store looking for the birds I need.
Chicks are resilient little guys, and they can usually handle the mail system with no issues. But wild weather can, and does, affect their shipping. This can delay their arrival, or force you to reschedule entirely. And, even without weather events, a day or 2 delay can mean higher mortality. We lose, roughly, 2 chicks per order in the first 72 hours. Most hatcheries will include an extra chick or 2, but you should always plan for some losses and adjust your order accordingly.
Where to Get Chicks-Online
My number 1 hatchery recommendation for years has been Cackle Hatchery. They have a wide variety of birds, start shipping early- in February, and generally have the best prices. I’ve raised several hundred of their birds over the years and am very happy with them. They also have good customer service folks and have been easy to work with. Their website.
This hatchery is a great one for ducklings and goslings. We’ve ordered both from them in the past, and I have no complaints. Free shipping, plenty of breeds to choose from- if you want waterfowl or gamefowl, check them out. They start shipping in January. Their website.
Murray McMurray hatchery has an unbelievable variety of birds available. They ship any quantity of chicks- starting at the end of January- and have a 48 hour live guarantee. Their website is filled with pictures of beautiful birds, and the chicks you receive grow to be the same. Their website.
Mt. Healthy Hatchery
I’ve only ordered from this hatchery twice. But both of my orders from them were healthy, quality chicks. In getting the link to their website this morning, I found a pretty good sale going on. May be time to order from them again. They start shipping in January. Their website.
This is another hatchery with a wide variety of birds and breeds. They sell chickens, ducks, turkeys, and game birds, so you could get multiple flocks delivered simultaneously. You can also order started pullets from them if you were really wanting to get eggs in a hurry. Their website.
About Buying Chicks Locally
Buying chicks locally is another great option for starting, or growing, your flock. One big benefit of buying locally is that you can pick out each individual chick that you purchase. You can evaluate, before they get to your brooder, if they seem healthy.
Another benefit of buying locally is how easily it connects you to other poultry-keepers in your area.
Where to Get Chicks-Offline
Every spring, around the beginning of March, Tractor Supply Co. stores are filled with the sounds of peeping. TSC’s annual chick days are a common source of chicks for first-time buyers. I’ve had a fair amount of success finding pullets at TSC. I’ve also purchased broiler chicks at a steep discount (they’d started outgrowing the brooder).
The only con is that the availability here is extremely variable, everyone and their brother is visiting Tractor Supply during chick days. (Myself included)
Your Local Feed Store
An alternative to the TSC chain is your locally-owned feed store. We’re fortunate to have a handful of good ones in the valley west of us. Hawe’s Farm, Palo Cedro Feed, Shasta Farm, Jone’s Feed, etc. Having so many feed stores around means that someone will have some chicks when we’re ready to buy. Some feed stores will even make bulk orders (to save on shipping & chick costs) and pass some of those savings along to their customers.
The local guys are also a good source of information. They live here too. And they probably know who owns what and who might have something for sale. Stop by and ask around.
I am a diehard Craigslist fan. I’ve been scrolling the Farm & Garden section religiously since I was about 12? I’ve been selling birds and goats on their almost as long. Some folks think Craigslist is dead because of Facebook marketplace… They seem to forget that Facebook has an explicit policy against animal sales while Craigslist does not.
Anywho. Your local craigslist may be a little slow or a little lacking in the farm and garden ads department. That’s okay. Post a wanted ad in the farm section. Or peruse the craigslist sites of nearby cities.
I mentioned it above, but Facebook technically has a ban on the sale of animals through their website. “Technically” because people still sell animals on Facebook all the time. You just have to word your posts a little cryptically, or only discuss prices over direct message.
My recommendation would not be to scroll Facebook marketplace. I’d suggest joining local farming, livestock, and poultry groups. Even if no one makes a post directly advertising chicks for sale, they may make a post talking about hatching chicks or a post that mentions needing to downsize a flock. This is a good way to network and ind local poultry keepers and breeders in your locale.
Breeders & Poultry Clubs
If you’re looking for a rarer, specific breed of chick, you may have some luck reaching out to a poultry club. I’m not in the showing business any more, but when I did exhibit poultry, it was obvious how much care goes into breeding and keeping show birds.
If that suites your fancy, start by looking at the American Poultry Association’s website for a breeder inventory. Or google the specific breed that you’re looking for, followed by “club” or your state. Breed-specific (or state-specific) Facebook groups are another good resource here too.
4-H & FFA kids
If there are 4-H clubs or FFA chapters nearby, you can almost guarantee that they’ll have a source for poultry. Reaching out to the FFA advisor, 4-H club leader, or cooperative extension office can help immensely.
When I was in 4-H, we were primarily buying chicks from hatcheries online and from local feed stores. But this can still be a good source for poultry information specific to your area.
Bonus- Hatch Them!
Notice that this post is called “where to get chicks” not “where to buy chicks”? That’s because buying isn’t your only option.
Whether you already have an established flock or not, hatching is a fun way to get chicks.
If you have productive hens and a rooster, you can hatch your own backyard eggs without much fuss. In 21 days you’ll be delighted to hear that those eggs are now peeping balls of fuzz.
If you don’t have chickens yet, or are lacking in the rooster department, you can buy fertile eggs for hatching. Many of the same sources for chicks will also be good places to look for eggs. Placing a wanted ad online (whether Facebook or Craigslist) is a good idea too.
(Read more about the basics of hatching chicks here!)
I hope that this post has helped to get the wheels turning on where you can get chicks this spring. Whether you’ll be shopping online or looking for a local deal, planning ahead is instrumental in ensuring your chicks survive and thrive. Be sure to have your brooder set up before bringing the chicks home, and have a longer-term plan for how and when you’ll transition them outside.
PS With chicks on the way, you may be wondering what chicken keeping is going to look like in the future. You can find my month by month breakdown of everything from chores to egg production in this post. For more information about what it takes to raise chicks to maturity, check out my post all about brooding chicks, here.