I am excited to add some new chicks to our flock!
I had intended to order chicks via mail this year. Generally speaking, a mail order of chicks must contain at least 25 chicks. If there are fewer than 25 in the shipment the chicks do not stay warm enough to survive the transport. While the chicks are overnighted and arrive relatively fast, there is some risk of loss. Baby chicks can survive for 24 hours or so after they hatch without food or water. Beyond that, you would expect higher mortality rates. You can purchase pullets (juvenile females) cockerels (juvenile males) or a straight run (unsexed juveniles). Some feed stores or hatcheries may offer only straight run chicks, which is fine, but obviously, they will not all be hens. I took a look at the hatcheries located nearest to me and made a decision about where I would order. My priority was simply the geographic location to minimize shipping time. I am hoping to raise a larger flock of meat birds later this summer (more on that later) so I figured I could choose three breeds, order five of each, and have them shipped with my meat birds.
And then… I happened to be at the feed store, and sure enough, both of the breeds I wanted to add to our flock were in stock. After taking a look at many different breeds, and their availability I had selected Silver Laced Wyandottes and Barred Plymouth Rock chicks as good fits for us. Because I like to support businesses in my small county whenever possible, I went ahead and purchased chicks. Truth be told,I was also sort of terrified they would all die in the mail, so I was a little relieved to pick up live chicks.
Here comes the real-life part of this story. Things got
a little a lot crazy in the feed store when the salesman gave my children permission to dive right in and catch the chicks they wanted! While I am sure he got a major kick out of it, the situation turned into a chicken rodeo pretty quickly! In an effort to get us out of there as soon as possible I shut the box and off we headed for the checkout. We ended up with 17 chicks (rather than the 15 I had anticipated) and I am not entirely sure what breeds they all are. I am very sure we have Silver Laced Wyandottes and Barred Plymouth Rock chicks as mentioned above, as well as Brown Leg Horns, White Leg Horns. But there are a few little gals I am stumped on! So we shall see.
Depending on what your goals are, you are going to want to choose different chicks.
My goals when it comes to my chickens, are to produce my own high-quality eggs and to enjoy having free range chickens. I am partial to heritage breeds and have a flock of chickens that look different. When we process meat birds we will have a separate flock of broilers.
Now that we have a rooster, I hope to allow my hens to go broody and hatch their own chicks. So far, none of my chickens are at all interested in motherhood. Last year, I purchased fifteen Golden Sex Links because that is what the feed store had! Golden Sex Links are tremendously efficient egg layers and have a very friendly demeanor. In my experience, they are a great choice for a smaller flock of backyard chickens. They are a cross breed, specifically developed for their egg laying abilities. Because the intention is to maximize egg production, they are bred to select against a strong instinct to go broody. So far none of these hens, nor the Golden Sex Links I have had in the past have gone broody.
There are a number of excellent resources out there for selecting the right chicken breed for you. I love to learn more about all traits and history of different chicken breeds.