Right after the holidays my thoughts turn to this year’s chicken order . It may sound early to many of those out there who don’t have chickens, after all the first day of winter was barely a week ago. But if you don’t get your chick order in early all the best breeds will be quickly sold out. Yep, there is a limited supply of baby chicks, and some types of chickens are more popular than others.
Years ago when there were chickens on every farmstead, there were hundreds of hatcheries across the country. There were also hundreds of breeds of poultry readily available. Today with our movement to the city lifestyle there are only a few major hatcheries left. The availability of chicken breeds has diminished as well. Many of those heritage breeds of years gone by have become rare. Some breeds are so rare that they are considered endangered and threatened (because they are livestock animals they are not protected like the Kirkland’s Warbler or the spotted owl). New breeds are only being developed to lay more eggs or to have bigger breasts. The kinds of chickens that the big factory farms can use to churn out more of what we demand white meat chicken nuggets.
Before the movement to the city, every feed store and farm supply in towns across the country would bring in chicks each year. Today if we are lucky we have
one farm supply who for a few weeks have chick days. The farm store will have an assortment of the more popular breeds available . Many farmers in the past would order their chicks each spring from a nearby hatchery. Today that option is still available if you choose to do it.
Every backyard chicken keeper will have a favorite way to get their flock. I have done both buy in the local ranch supply and bought directly from the hatchery. There are pros and cons to each. This spring I will post about my thoughts on picking your breed, to the pros and cons of ordering your own vs. farm supply, getting ready and other things you might want to know about getting and raising chickens.