Do you have the bug for stewarding chickens?
But it’s not early Spring where chicks can be found everywhere?
Here are a number of pointers about how and where to source chickens for your starter flock. And how and where to get educational support.
- Generally speaking chicks are available at most agricultural supply stores in the spring. You could certainly call around to Southern States your local version of a Ag Supply Store to see if they plan to have fall chicks.
- Call your Cooperative Extension Agent, generally run by the land grant University in your state. Start here. Or just Google Cooperative Extension. Information about your local office should come up first in the search.
- If you want to start with chicks, you can always order from the hatcheries themselves. There are many out there. There are many out there and they ship chicks to you by mail (seriously it works remarkably well). Here’s one that’s certified organic though we have no affiliation with them and can’t recommend them. Just found them online.
- It takes 6 weeks for chicks to feather out to be safe in cold weather so if you start in August or September, depending on your locale, you may still have plenty of time to raise them up before putting them outside.
- The positives of getting chicks from a hatchery is you can get the EXACT breeds and genders that you want.
- The cons are that you have to raise baby chicks and that can be a hassle of time and energy and also an expense to get the right equipment. Also it’s a learning curve the first time.
- Search on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. If you find something, please bring someone experienced with you to see if they are in good shape. There will be signs you can’t see as a beginner.
- Contract a local breeder to see if they’ll raise up the chicks for you. Usually breeders specialize in a particular variety/breed, but sometimes they are flexible. You can look on Facebook or Craigslist for breeders who advertise or look for a poultry network in your area. Plan to pay $20+ for pullets (young birds).
- Put your need/desire out on social media and you’d be surprised the network that can get created. Either post on your own facebook page or join a local chicken group and ask there. There are lots of homestead groups, permaculture groups, backyard chicken groups online that are well resourced and happy to help.
- There are still agricultural auctions in most rural parts of the county. Look online for when and where. Take someone experienced with you because you want to know what you’re getting.
Make sure you get the proper education for keeping birds. Keep an eye on our events page to see what we’ve got going on. And also, we highly recommend Pat Foreman’s program “Chickens & You” which is online education.
Author: Lee Warren
Lee Warren has been homesteading and farming for more than 25 years. She is the Executive Director of Organic Growers School and the manager of Imani Farm, a pasture-based cooperative farm in Rutherford County, NC. Lee is also an herbalist, writer, teacher, and food activist, with an avid interest in rural wisdom, sustainable economics, and social justice issues.