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Finding chickens for sale isn’t hard, if you know where to look of course.
But that’s the problem, are you looking in the right places where you will get healthy, cared for chickens perfect for your backyard?
I mean you wouldn’t want to be supporting a business that doesn’t have the chicken’s best welfare at heart, or that’s willing to sell you a breed totally unsuitable to your family.
Finding the right chickens for sale can be a minefield if you’re a beginner chicken keeper (even for us veterans it can be difficult). So I wrote this guide to help you out!
The first step is to get really clear on what sort of chicken you want to keep
To find chickens for sale you first need to know what type of chickens you’re looking for.
For the sake of this post I will loosely be splitting the types of chickens you can buy into four categories; egg layers, rescue hens, pure breeds (including pure breed bantams) and baby chicks and hatching eggs.
Because these are the four different reasons or types of chickens you will probably be looking to buy and you would ‘source’ each type of chicken in a different way!
If you are mainly looking for hens to keep in your garden to supply your family with eggs then the humble hybrid is your best bet.
Don’t be fooled, they can still be really friendly and they will all have individual personalities. They are just bred for egg laying (rather than say fluffy feet or to be a certain color), and tend to be a lot more robust than the majority of pure breeds, making them the perfect chicken for a newbie chicken keeper (which I’m guessing you are if your reading this post…)
The other great thing about hybrids is that you can buy them at POL (point of lay) which means you should start getting eggs in the next couple of months (and often some of those first few eggs are double yolkers!!!)
Where to buy hybrids:
The first two hens I ever had were Black Rock hybrids. Admittedly they weren’t the friendliest of birds but my goodness they were hardy and laid nearly every day even in Winter.
If the Black Rock isn’t for you don’t worry because there are many different hybrids available, even including ones that lay blue eggs.
Whether you’re in the USA or the UK the best way to find a reputable hybrid chicken seller is to join a local poultry club, or if that seems a bit intimidating join a chicken keeping forum or Facebook group (there are loads of chicken keeping Facebook groups!)
Then just ask if anyone has got hybrids in your local area and would they recommend a seller to you. This is the safest way to find your chickens because people will not recommend someone who sold them unhealthy or unsuitable chickens!
Often poultry sellers who specialize in hybrids will stock quite a few different varieties and will allow you to mix and match so you can tell them apart.
Please don’t just do a Google search or follow an ad from Craigslist to find someone selling hybrids. Sure it’s convenient but until you can really assess a chickens health and have the confidence to say no if the birds (or the setting) aren’t up to scratch then it’s really a surefire way of getting poorly chooks and supporting a bad business.
Rescue hens can be a great option especially for newbie chickens keepers!
In the egg production industry (farms that produce eggs for human consumption) hens will normally only be kept till they are around 16 to 18 months old, then they are regarded as ‘spent’. This is because they have reached peak egg production (even though rescue hens will often continue to lay for years!)
This is a great shame because hens can easily live between 5 and 10 years. Not to mention that many hens are kept in cages (if you are in the UK those new enriched cages they brought in to replace battery cages are really no better!) and have never had the chance to be outside and exhibit natural behaviors such a scratching and dust bathing.
For some reason rescue hens are often extremely friendly. Because I worked for the British Hen Welfare Trust I’ve had many rescue hens over the years, and it was always the rescued ones that would come and sit next to me in the garden. Or much to my Dad’s surprise, come and sunbathe on his back while he was lying in the garden! So they really are brilliant for beginner chicken keepers!
Where to buy rescue hens:
(And yes buy is the right word, the organizations that rescue these hens need their costs covered.)
You may often see ads in places like Craigslist or in local newspapers saying things like ‘free chickens to a good home’ or ‘chickens for free’. To be clear these are NOT rescue hens and there is a high chance you might actually be getting a rooster because people are always trying to get rid of roosters due to how noisy they can be!
If you would like to get rescue hens in the UK then contact the British Hen Welfare Trust who are an excellent organization.
If you live in the USA there doesn’t appear to a singular organization dedicated to rehoming spent hens, but Animal Place seems to be the largest animal welfare organization that also rescues hens so they would be a good start to find your own.
Now you may have decided a certain chicken breed is right for you, perhaps you’ve fallen in love with the delightful Silkies or know that one day you would like to start breeding or showing.
Pure breeds, both bantam and large fowl, can make excellent pets. But beware each breed has it’s nuances (like how Silkies need plenty of shelter as their fluffy feathers don’t do well getting wet) and they can be a little less hardy than hybrids.
If you want some more information on the different pure breeds available a great place to start is either the American Poultry Association or The Poultry Club of Great Britain depending on where you live.
Where to buy pure breeds:
For whatever reason you’re buying pure breeds there really is only one way to buy them and that is through a breeder registered with that breed’s club.
This is particularly important if you are planning on keeping a rare poultry breed because you need to make sure you are buying ones with pure bloodlines and genetics.
Once you have chosen your breed the best bet is to either get in touch with the American Poultry Association or The Poultry Club of Great Britain and ask for the contact details of the breed club for your chosen breed.
Or just type in the breeds name followed by club and the country you live in into Google, and often the breed club will just come up.
Give them a call or send an email asking them to recommend a breeder in your area and you’re good to go!
Baby Chicks and Hatching Eggs:
You can buy chickens as baby chicks or as hatching eggs, but I would never recommend this option for someone starting out.
Not only do you need a lot of equipment such an incubator, brooder and heat lamp. But you will end up with roosters; they are loud and will fight each other to the death (some roosters will live together but it’s rare) which means you will have to separate them as they get older.
Not to mention that young chicks require specialist care, much more so than just keeping chickens in your garden. Therefore I would always say start with a few adult hens and see how that goes.
Then if you want to try hatching or caring for baby chicks down the line that’s absolutely fine, as by then you will have built up valuable chicken keeping experience.
Now you know where to find a breeder or seller who stocks the type of chicken you are looking for, you need to know how to choose a chicken.
How to actually choose your chickens:
Whoever you are buying your chickens from ask to see where they keep them. You want to check that the housing looks nice and clean and that you aren’t buying from someone who doesn’t care for his or her poultry well.
If you are buying pure breeds be sure to ask to see the parents, you want to check they are actually the breed you are looking for and that they look healthy and well cared for.
You should also do a quick health assessment of any birds you intend to purchase. It’s really easy and any good poultry keeper should be happy you are taking the time to check the chickens are well cared for.
Quick health assessment, what you should look for:
- That the chickens iare clean, with no pooey bottoms
- They have bright eyes
- That they are no mites on legs and that the scales/ skin is nice and smooth
- No obvious discharge from eyes, nose or break
- Not hunched over as this is a sure sign of a sick chicken
- Comb and wattle should be a pink (if the birds are young) or a nice bright red. A blue comb suggests the chicken is very old or sick.
- There should be no lice or mites in the chickens feathers for lice
- If possible check the coop for red mite as the last thing you want is to have to deal with red mite as a newbie chicken keeper
This is a perfect example of a healthy looking chicken:
Also, if you already have some chickens at home, be sure to keep your new ones in quarantine for a few weeks just to make sure no sickness develops that could harm the hens you already have.
I really hope this article will help you when looking for chickens for sale, as ever if you have any questions please comment below or email be at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you did find this post useful, it would really help me out if you could share it on Pinterest! (Thank you!!!!)