Buying chickens can be made easier if you consider the following:
Backyard chickens can bring hours of enjoyment for their owners as well as fresh delicious eggs. Where you purchase your chickens can make a difference to the health, temperament and your peace of mind.
We at Evans Chickens think that there are a few things that you should ask the seller or breeder of the chickens that you are thinking of purchasing:
1: Do you guarantee the sex?
When you are buying pure breed chickens sometimes you may end up with a rooster when you paid for a hen. With some breeds of chickens, it is difficult to sex them without experience and sometimes there is a mistake. Does the seller stand by their sale of a hen and will they credit or replace the chicken if it turns out to be a rooster? If you are purchasing a hybrid, dedicated egg layers like the Hyline and ISA Brown chickens, then this question is not a big concern.
If you are buying un-sexed chicks then you risk a 50/50 chance of the chick being a boy and you will need a plan in place for the roosters if your council does not allow them or you don’t desire to keep them. We will take back any of our chicks that turn out to be roosters.
2: Are they vaccinated?
Vaccination is an important area that will leave you exposed to a range of sicknesses and diseases in your flock if not done correctly or not done at all! For small breeders, the vaccines are expensive but we think that it is worth the extra price for vaccinated poultry.
If you are buying pullets (hens around 16 to 20 weeks of age just about to start laying eggs), you will need to ask for confirmation that all “standard” vaccinations have been administered.
Fortunately, if you buy genuine ISA Brown or HyLine Brown laying hens, the pullet growers will have completed all the vaccination work already. If you decide to buy day-old chicks or chicks grown from day old, you will need to complete all vaccinations yourself.
If you are buying a pure breed of chicken such as an Australorp, light sussex or barred rock you will need to be more careful as anyone with a little knowledge and fertile eggs can breed them. Good breeders who sell their chickens, will have a vaccination program in place and be able to demonstrate this to you. Some breeders will not vaccinate at all or just tell you it has been done and provide no evidence. Non-vaccination is a practice which saves the breeder time, effort and money. The cheaper chick or chicken may end-up suffering or dead when a common poultry disease comes along. Many common diseases, like Mareks, don’t show up for 6 months but vaccination will give the bird the best chance.
3: Are they genuine?
HyLine and Isa Brown pullets are a protected and highly secretive cross of specific chickens and can only be purchased as hatched day old chicks or point of lay pullets. Only HyLine breed the HyLine chickens in Australia and Baiada breed ISA Brown chickens in Australia and it’s illegal to breed from their stock or use their brand names incorrectly. An Isa brown rooster will not mean that if crossed your Isa browns, that you will be able to raise your own Isa browns. If someone is selling fertile Isa brown eggs they are probably not genuine as we are not aware of anyone in Australia being licensed to sell the eggs.
If you are buying pure breed chickens then does the breeder show there stock or can they demonstrate to you that they are true to type – leg colour, comb, feathers etc.
4: Is their health guaranteed?
If your chicken seller offers you a guarantee on the health of your new chickens (usually a few weeks and not covering fox, dog or eagles or incorrect feed) then that’s a pretty good sign that they are confident that they have done everything possible (such as vaccinations), to maximize their health.
5: Who have the chickens been in a pen with?
Always ask the seller if there are other species of poultry on the property. This is very important as some species such as ducks and other waterfowl are good carriers for deadly diseases to laying hens.
Some sellers will have a wide range of poultry and other animals on the same property where they sell their chickens. As a rule, we recommend buying from sellers who keep their chickens in separate flocks of the same age and species or else you are asking for misfortune.
6: What have they been fed?
Finally, what your potential new hens have been fed as they were raised makes a big difference to their egg laying performance for their life time! When growing from a day-old chick to a Point-Of-Lay pullet at around 18 weeks of age, any problems with feed or feeding can cause long-term issues. Growing chicks need a starter crumble to 8 weeks, then a chick grower crumble to at least 16-18 weeks. Incorrect feed can lead to a lifetime of problems for a chicken. Laying hens need a quality layer crumble of at least 16% protein to get their nutritional requirement for egg production. Evans Chickens have a complete range of feed available for purchase.