Where to Find a Small Order of Chicks

| 3/24/2009 11:47:28 AM

Tags: poultry,

Baby Chickens


If you’re hoping to get a few hens to keep in your backyard and want to start with baby chickens, you can order through the mail from a poultry hatchery. But the minimum order is usually 25. It takes that many chicks to keep each other warm while they’re traveling.

You could order some hatching eggs and put them in an incubator, but some of the chicks that hatch will certainly be males. You could also order 25 pullets (females) and split the order with friends and neighbors. To find the variety you want, check out our Hatchery Finder.

But don’t forget to check your local farm store, such as Tractor Supply Company or Orscheln’s. You can order just a few chicks or ducks of a certain breed and gender. The chicks will come with a bigger order for the store. Farm stores and feed stores may also have chicks or ducklings available in the store, but the number of varieties is usually narrow, although there are often several breeds and hybrids to choose from. Depending on the store, chicks are available for several weeks in the spring.

Meyer Hatchery allows customers to order as few as three chicks. They include a heating pad and ship only via express mail. There are additional restrictions.

mt mi mi
6/7/2009 7:12:05 AM

Just checked out mypetchicken.com; nice assortment. However, for a rural area like mine, they require you order a minimum of 8. Still not too bad. If you don't want to pay Express Mail, and need a larger selection base, try IDEAL POULTRY www.ideal-poultry.com. They ship priority (less expensive); 8 million birds a year, and yet offer the best customer service one could ask for. Anything less than a box (25, I think), and they fill in with odd males, for heat. You need to order early however, they're pretty much done by June, except for some bantams, assortments, and leftovers. I've had great success from them on every order, and as I said, the customer service is the BEST!!!

mt mi mi
6/7/2009 6:51:35 AM

Paula, I've never tried raising them that way. Do you plant them with tomatoes or potatoes? (I need a smilie).

mt mi mi
6/7/2009 6:46:37 AM

Rachel H.-What state/city do you live in/near that doesn't allow a chicken on one acre? A gated community? That's a lot of land for one chicken!! The rebel in me likes Mike's plan (6/6), but if you want to keep your good neighbors, you can get a copy of the pertinent ordinances. Then set about to change them; ask procedure. You can put out feelers to see if your neighbors agree, and/or to get others to help you, e.g letters to the editor, post flyers, contact local poultry/goat clubs/4-H, etc. You may want to use a PO box or email address to avoid kooks. Hope you succeed; I wish I had an acre for my chooks.

michael erhardt
6/6/2009 12:18:07 AM

To Rachel H, How many dogs would they allow? I would get as many dogs as they allow and then when the city complains about the noise see if you can talk them into letting you have chickens if you get rid of the dogs. Go to a town meeting, see if there is a way to change the law. How much is the fines for having chickens? Get them anyway, pay the fine. Let the chickens run loose and tell the city they are not yours.

rachel h.
5/31/2009 5:35:40 PM

I have an acre of land but the city won't let me have even a single chicken! I called and asked if I could have a miniature goat, one that at full grown will be only knee high. Goats are clean and quiet once they get use to the place. One goat in one fenced in acre of land wounldn't hurt anybody but they said "No". What Can I do? I'm so mad. A cow share around here cost over $500. a year for one gallon of milk a week. I can't afford that. Any Suggestions?

5/31/2009 12:18:27 PM

You may not even have to order if you have a CO-OP or Murdoch's in town. Troy mentioned a couple of farm stores in his article. They vary from place to place. We bought 6 baby chicks from CO-OP last year and they average 4 to 5 eggs a week per chicken.

shirley in nc_2
5/29/2009 11:06:42 AM

David Prince, We use a rabbit wire cage and set the cage on the floor of the chicken house for several days for the new birds to get used to one another. Purchased as a rabbit kit at the tractor supply store. But, they stay with their flock mates in littler groups inside the whole. Like if you take out an injuried bird they run around alone after they are placed back with the larger group until they are taken in by a mating rooster or get their own little ladies. Most of the time you will see the breeds running with just their breed because they were clutch mates like my Rhode Islands and my goldens buffs run alone. But where we got a 100 mixed order they mix well together at the present.

david prince_2
5/28/2009 12:10:53 PM

Sooooo Exactly how would you say is the best way to incorporate new chicks into an existing flock of birds?

5/28/2009 9:14:38 AM

I picked up my hens (day old) from MEYER HATCHERY, they are wonderful... and healthy! I got 2 each of 5 different breeds, i guess i like color! You can get 1 or 100, and even if you have to drive...I think pickup is the best way, and they have all of the supplies you might need too. AND when you pick them up you can get some great information from the people who work there!

5/28/2009 7:33:09 AM

You can also check sites like localharvest and craigslist. My husband and I raise day old chicks up to pullet age and older and then sell and deliver them monthly (depending on the distance). We are nearly always stocked with 5 weeks old and older birds in NC (more classic varieties like Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, etc). The birds are grown past the need for heat lamps, are guaranteed to be females (especially important if you live in a city that doesn't allow roosters!), and are still affordable.

svaha storm
5/28/2009 7:17:56 AM

"For what it's worth - I asked Orschelen's how they kept chicks inside without stinking up the store, and their secret is to use a large amount of cedar shavings - so that there is a deep litter to absorb the poop and urine. By doing this - our chicks are already use to our deep litter system in the main coop, and I can use it for compost after their done. Besides, the cedar keeps it from stinking so much." WARNING Cedar can kill your chicks,I would suggest pine shavings instead

svaha storm
5/28/2009 7:13:47 AM

"For what it's worth - I asked Orschelen's how they kept chicks inside without stinking up the store, and their secret is to use a large amount of cedar shavings - so that there is a deep litter to absorb the poop and urine. By doing this - our chicks are already use to our deep litter system in the main coop, and I can use it for compost after their done. Besides, the cedar keeps it from stinking so much." Cedar will kill your baby chicks ,I would suggest pine shavings instead

paula mcneely
5/28/2009 1:38:23 AM

I tried to raise chickens once & had no luck. Can you tell me: Did I plant them too deep or water them too much?

5/27/2009 10:36:28 PM

I was about to get chickens for my backyard and then decided on ducks. Great choice! They were in the house for about 2 weeks (5) and then went outside and not smelly at all. They tolerate the wet and cold very well. I got them at Orscheln, but you do take a chance on the sex! They are 3 months old now and just in the last week I realized I have 1 hen and 4 drakes, not a good mix. Thank goodness for craigslist as I found a duck hobbiest that had 5 khaki hens to sell. I traded him one drake and got 3 hens AND already had an egg from his year old hens today, woo hoo!! www.whatupduck.com for duck pics!

shirley in nc_2
5/27/2009 8:55:45 PM

Sugarpatcher General 1 egg per day/per hen. The number of eggs that you use depends on the amount of eggs you eat and use in cooking/baking. I have no problem with my small flock of 100+ chicken. I let them set and share my eggs with family and friends in exchange for a (1) bag of scratch feed per family that I give the eggs to during the winter months. But, I live on a farm and free range my chickens and kill the roosters on a regular bases (once a month) for meat. This I share with my extended family also. If you have never been around chickens before I would advise purchasing 'sex link' chickens. Were the male/female are different colors and/or markings. I have no trouble saling the chicks that when moneys a bit tight at the local flea market or farmer's markets. The last batch I gave away to an elderly couple.

shirley in nc_2
5/27/2009 8:54:43 PM


shirley in nc_2
5/27/2009 8:32:14 PM

Another way to purchase hens is as pellets or X number weeks old. Several hatchry's sale older - ready to start laying hens - from anywhere from $5.00 and up depending on the hatchry and breed. Don't forget to look at the local farmers markets, weekend yard sale sites, etc. Here in NC there are programs were they are trying to breed endangered farm animals. People working with government grants will sell you ready to lay hens here for $5 each. Hatching eggs is a job, so please read up on it before you try. You have to turn the eggs every few hours, checking the heat, etc. And chicks are sometimes harder to raise than people think.

5/27/2009 7:53:57 PM

I don't Meyers Hatchery will sell less than 25 chicks. My Pet Chicken will sell only 3 if you live in an urban area that has overnight Fed Ex. Also try Craig's List for baby chicks. Most hobby farmers around here are unable to sex chicks so you may get stuck with roosters which will annoy your neighbors not to mention wake you up at 4 am (groan). Best bet -- find some like minded friends who want to try chicken raising with you and can split a hatchery order.

kamia at heart's haven
5/27/2009 7:28:31 PM

For what it's worth - I asked Orschelen's how they kept chicks inside without stinking up the store, and their secret is to use a large amount of cedar shavings - so that there is a deep litter to absorb the poop and urine. By doing this - our chicks are already use to our deep litter system in the main coop, and I can use it for compost after their done. Besides, the cedar keeps it from stinking so much.

5/27/2009 6:50:10 PM

FreshMeat2009, Our family is rather new to the country/chicken thing, but I can assure you that you do NOT want chickens in your home or basement for any length of time. We had a chicken go broody a while back so we let her set a clutch of eggs. It rained alot that month so we put her nest box in a cage in the garage. Never would've thought one wet hen could stink that much. After they hatched, we had to remove the 7 chicks from the hen (kept stepping on them) and brought them in the house to care for. They are 4 weeks old and they already stink. Now they are outside in a cage during the day and in the kitchen at night. They just eat, poop, and grow, and poop some more. But having the chicks hatch and so forth has been one of the absolute coolest things that our family has ever done! Poop and all!

kevin bong_2
5/27/2009 3:32:50 PM

Every year at the county fair here they have a display of chicks hatching, and the chicks are for sale. We bought four there last year to replace a few hens we lost. We got an interesting mix and a very pretty rooster. The tougher part was integrating the young chickens into our existing flock.

kevin bong_2
5/27/2009 3:27:12 PM

We only wanted 10 chicks. I at first tried to coordinate with other folks via craigslist before we ordered, but it was a pain and some people ultimately backed out after the order. However, after we received the chicks and then had too many, I got a great response on craigslist for live chicks ready to pick up. Next time I won't even bother to coordinate before hand, I'll just order the mix of chicks that I want and place an add on craigslist for the extras once they arrive.

5/27/2009 1:05:44 PM

i just wanted to second that about www.mypetchicken.com! i ordered 12 hens from them last fall and they were wonderful. they let you order as few as 3, and pick and choose '1 of these, 1 of those'. they arrived safely and promptly and they even through in an extra hen from a breed i had ordered. they are also great about answering questions and providing great info etc. just though i'd share!

5/26/2009 3:47:19 AM

I want to raise some chickens for personal consumption but I live in a subdivision and wondering if it will pose a health risk if I raise them and keep the coop in my basement.

3/30/2009 5:17:02 PM

I don't know anything about chickens but thought about having some for eggs. Does each chicken lay one egg (or more?) each day? How many chickens are enough for keeping in eggs for a family of two people?

dominic ebacher
3/27/2009 2:32:25 PM

Just to mention again that a great thing to do is pool your resources and share the minimum chick requirement with some other local micro-farmers. I posted an ad this last spring on our local craigslist.org site, and immediately found more people to share my chicken order than I needed to fill the minimum. Plus, more people means less cost for the shipping when you share it amongst more people. There's people out there just waiting to go in on an order with you, you just have to ask, and when you do: you'll be surprised how many people just like you are waiting for someone to do exactly that.

chicken whisperer
3/24/2009 7:24:10 PM

Great article Troy! I know that "My Pet Chicken" has allowed customers to order as few as three baby chicks for a while now. You pay a little more per chick, but it's not that bad if you don't need 25. You can visit their website at www.mypetchicken.com Thanks, Chicken Whisperer

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!