Are you ready to buy fluffy chickens and fill your backyard with the much-awaited joy?
Following up on our previous post – Do you have what it takes to raise chickens in your backyard – we believe you now have the legal permit to raise chickens in your backyard. Plus, you’re equipped with all the knowledge related to the daily, weekly, and even yearly chores required as a chicken owner.
Now, have you decided about which breed of chicken to get?
Before you begin to admire different breeds of chickens, relax and think: what’s your primary objective of keeping chickens? What do you want from them? Besides raising them as your favorite pets, there’s some benefit you want from these birds. Probably, your answer is “eggs.” That’s great. But how many eggs would you want from a chicken?
Choosing a Chicken Breed Best Suited to Your Needs
Though many people buy chicken breeds that lay a higher number of eggs, others have different preferences. Some people choose breeds according to the size of their backyard. If they have limited space, buying a specific breed (such as bantam chickens) is a good match. That’s because they’re comparatively smaller than other chicken breeds. Their egg size is also smaller.
Other options depend on various factors such as your level of dedication towards raising the flock, whether your children will be involved in keeping chickens, and how much meat you want from the birds. For people residing in areas with an extreme climate, an entirely different breed of chickens should be their choice.
Though there is a myriad of chicken breeds to choose from, choosing the right breed doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Once you’re well informed about each breed, you’ll be able to select the breed that best works for you.
Here’s all you need to know about different breeds of chickens:
Breeds for Egg Productions
What a pleasant moment it will be when you check the nesting boxes and see those golden-brown eggs for the first time! So, if you’re one of those chicken owners whose passion is to see a lot of fresh eggs each day they turn to their backyard, then it’s vital to choose the breed of chickens that lay a warm, yummy egg every day!
The following breed lays the most eggs – all year around:
Plymouth Rock lays 200 eggs in a year. Though the size of its eggs may vary, it lays light-brown eggs. If you want to see fresh eggs laid from these hens in every two days, then this chicken breed should be your choice. Since Plymouth Rocks are friendly in nature, it’s quite easy to raise them.
Barnevelder lays 200 light-brown colored eggs in a year. However, the size of the eggs may vary from small to medium. This breed wouldn’t be problematic at all as it doesn’t fly high.
Ancona lays 200 eggs in a year. The color of its eggs is white, and the size is small. Though this breed is smaller in size as compared to other backyard chickens, Ancona may fly often! That’s why you should only keep this breed if you aim to collect a lot of eggs and can keep them in a suitable enclosure for chickens that like to fly.
Hybrids lay 280 eggs in a year. The best thing about these backyard chickens is that you don’t have to feed them a lot to lay this amount of eggs. The color of their eggs is brown, and the size is medium. Among different varieties of Hybrids, it’s wise to choose Golden Comet. These chickens don’t become broody. That’s why you can take care of them easily.
Buff Orpington lays 180 eggs in a year. But this breed may often become broody during the summer. That’s why it may lay fewer eggs compared to other breeds. However, if you’re passionate enough to tame Buff Orpingtons quickly, they can be a preferable breed. Once you have them, make sure they eat from your hands!
Leghorns lay 250 eggs in a year. These white chickens lay medium-sized eggs. If you’re experienced enough to give attention to them and train them, then leghorns can be an ideal backyard chicken breed.
Hamburg lays 200 glossy, white eggs in a year. For the size, there’s no hard and fast rule. It can lay either small or medium eggs depending on the feed as well as the environment. Since the Hamburg adjusts well to bigger spaces, you need to make sure that your backyard has ample space to keep these beautiful chickens with black, white, and golden feathers.
Breeds for Different Egg Colors
Have you ever picked a chicken breed only to get interesting egg colors, and that with a different shade? Though this may seem like something funny, it’s a serious passion for chicken lovers! They breed their backyard chickens specifically to get different colors of eggs.
Imagine what would happen if each of your hens lay an egg that’s unique! If you have 12 laying hens, this would mean getting 12 eggs – each with a unique color! Some people do it to add diversity to their egg basket.
But what exactly makes the eggs different in color?
In the beginning, all eggs tend to be white. It doesn’t matter which chicken breed lays the eggs. Several factors also play a crucial role in the egg color game. For instance, your hen’s overall health can be a considerable factor that affects the eggshell’s color. Moreover, excess sun exposure or inaccessibility of cool, fresh water can make the hen’s eggs lighter in color.
Hens’ earlobes reflect something exciting too: it depends on the color of the earlobes as to which color category her egg will belong to. Hens that have white earlobes lay white-colored eggs while hens having red earlobes can lay tinted, brown, green, blue, and even pink eggs!
However, to get colorful eggs, you need to choose the right chicken breed. Following are some of these breeds to consider according to the egg colors you prefer to collect:
Breeds for White Eggs
If white eggs are your choice, then there’s a long list of chicken breeds waiting for you! Some of the birds that lay white eggs include the following:
The eggs of this breed are tiny and white. They don’t lay well and are also difficult to breed. They’re not particularly well known for egg production or meat. But if you’re looking for chicken breeds that lay white eggs, you can keep Sebrights for sure.
These chickens don’t tend to get broody and lay large, white shelled eggs the whole year round. Minorcas thrive on human contact. Care needs to be taken as they can be flighty.
This one lays eggs that are tinted. The eggs are small in size with big, deep yellow yolks. Silkies are gentle birds and make wonderful mother hens.
They’re great producers of small, white eggs. They lay around four eggs per week. They eat little to produce the eggs. Therefore, you wouldn’t have to spend a lot to feed Hamburgs as compared to the other chickens.
This breed is a good layer of white eggs that are also larger in size. Andalusians can give as many as 60 large eggs per year with around three eggs per week.
Breeds for Brown Eggs
Don’t think of these as just brown eggs. From light-brown to golden brown to dark brown, there is a myriad of shades in brown eggs. And when gathered in an egg basket, the different hues of brown eggs are worth admiring.
And here’s something interesting: The shade of brown eggs is lighter during the warmer season and darker in winter! If collecting brown eggs is your style, then you should choose chicken breeds among the following:
They’re gentle birds that lay eggs medium in size and brown in color. Their egg laying is good and you can expect around three eggs from them in a week.
Cochins produce enormous, brown eggs. They’re voracious eaters, which makes them produce eggs even in harsh winter. They’re prone to becoming fat, and as such, their egg production can stop.
Although a reasonable layer of light brown eggs, medium in size, these birds can go broody, but they also make great mothers covering a large number of eggs. What makes them preferable in the eyes of backyard chicken raisers is the fact that they’re friendly in nature.
Ever heard about jumbo eggs? If you’re fond of bigger and brown eggs, then Delawares should be your pick. The eggs produced by this breed are large to jumbo and brown. This breed has a good egg laying nature as it can provide up to 4 eggs in a week. Delawares can go broody but generally require less care.
New Hampshire Reds
Docile and calm, they do well in backyards. Some strands of New Hampshire Reds can produce darker brown eggs, and you can expect around 200 eggs from them in a year.
Breeds for Dark Brown Eggs
Though breeds that lay dark brown eggs are rare, when they lay eggs, these dark eggs seem incomparable! Here are some chicken breeds to consider:
They produce about 180 to 200 eggs per year. The eggs are large and brown speckled. They are great layers of good eggs, but this breed can be a little aggressive.
If you want to add variety to the basket of brown eggs, then Cuckoo Marans is the right breed. Sometimes, they lay speckled brown eggs. And sometimes, you’ll be surprised to see that their eggs look like brown-colored paper.
Blue Copper Marans
Don’t get deceived because of the name, “Blue” Copper Marans. That’s because this breed lays the darkest brown (and not blue) eggs. Having a rich flavor, these eggs comprise of dark orange yolk. This is one of the reasons that the eggs produced by this breed are pricey. So, if you’re raising Blue Copper Marans, consider their dark brown eggs are as precious as ever!
Breeds for Pinkish Eggs
Who wouldn’t love to know about the sweet hen that lays pinkish eggs?! Here they are:
Though Australorps are known to lay 200 to 240 brown eggs in a year, they’re said to be the breed that lay eggs with a pinkish layer as well. However, before buying this breed, it’s always better to ask about the experience of the seller. If the Australorp you plan to buy lays pinkish eggs, it’s definitely the best buy.
Though Light Sussex are white-colored chickens, their eggs aren’t white at all. In fact, they lay eggs with a pink layer that looks unique. However, depending on the level of sunlight they’re exposed to, they can also lay light-brown eggs. Since this is a friendly breed and can easily adjust in new surroundings, it’s easy to raise too.
Breeds for Blue Eggs
Blue eggs look exactly like blue gems! If you’re desperate to see your backyard chickens lay blue eggs, then keep the following breeds:
These weird-looking but cute Ameraucana chickens have a beard as well as muffs. They don’t only lay blue eggs; you’ll notice that the color of their legs also has a blue shade.
Though Cream Legbars lay blue eggs, their eggs may vary with different shades of blue. When the eggs are hatched and you begin to see the chicks coming out, you can quickly identify the male and female Legbars. If you plan to raise this breed, make sure that you leave them as much outside the coop as possible since they like to run outside.
While buying Araucanas, you’ll recognize them easily as these black birds don’t have their tail head! Because of breeding issues, this chicken breed is said to be rare. But the good thing about Araucanas is that they’ll always lay eggs that are blue.
Breeds for Meat
Naturally, when we hear about ‘raising chickens,’ the first thought that comes to the mind is about those golden-brown eggs! Secondly, seeing your lovely flock run from one side of the backyard to the other is worth your efforts. It simply lightens up the mood. Though this is a common feeling all of us share, for a growing number of people, raising chickens has become more of a necessity.
And of course, there’s a reason for this.
Besides getting health-conscious, many people are making informed decisions as to what to eat and what not to eat. Since more people are now aware of the consequences of eating commercially grown chickens, the side effects of the growth hormones added to these chickens, and the health risks associated with the intake of these hormone-injected chickens, they prefer raising their own chickens.
And yes, in their backyards!
Which has led to an increase in the demand for chicken breeds that possess more meat. The benefit? Raising chickens within your own premises provides you the assurance that they are fed and grown with feeds that are all natural, and their feed is free from hormonal injections. Chickens raised in your own yard provide the maximum satisfaction. And in the end, you get meat that’s purely protein!
Chickens raised for meat production are commonly called Broilers. Broilers are healthy meat chickens as they grow fast as compared to the chickens raised for laying eggs. In 5 weeks, broilers weigh around four to five pounds. When they are ten weeks old, they would easily weigh 10 pounds. This is considered an ideal weight of a chicken that’s specifically going to be used for feeding a family.
All this indicates that raising broilers the right way makes a lot of sense if you want to adopt a healthy lifestyle. However, before going further, it’s crucial to know which breed of broiler to choose.
Here are the most popular of them:
Weighing 11 lbs to 13 lbs, this chicken breed resembles a turkey because it produces a lot of meat. Available in black, blue, and white colors, their large size attracts backyard chicken keepers the most. If provided with the appropriate feed, Jersey Giant grows to full size within sixteen to twenty-one weeks.
Though the drawback of raising Jersey Giants is their slow harvest time, a worthwhile reward is that you’ll get more meat from this breed as compared to other chicken breeds. However, this requires a lot of patience as well because you’ll also have to take into account the amount of money being spent in its feed. To raise this breed while saving money, a good option is to grow its food at home.
Ever thought of raising chickens that like to eat field bugs and corn feed but are still perfect for your dinner? That’s the Freedom Ranger breed whose meat is healthy as well as delicious. Freedom Rangers grow within nine to eleven weeks and are available in red, black, and tricolor.
Though they take longer to grow, people still prefer this breed because of the taste of its meat. If you’re planning to raise Freedom Rangers for meat production, you can also feed them with low-protein food. But make sure you provide them excess space.
Meat lovers choose to raise this breed because of its ideal growth rate, ample breasts, and large thighs. This is a strong reason why commercial meat raisers keep Cornish Cross. However, since it can also be raised at home, backyard breeders prefer this breed more than dual-purpose chickens.
Weighing 8 to 12 lbs, Cornish Cross grows into a meaty chicken in the period of 4 to 6 weeks. The best thing about this breed is that it grows really fast. So, if you prefer extra meat and that too within just a few weeks, then Cornish Cross is the right choice. However, you need to feed them a lot so they can grow as expected.
Weighing 5 lbs to 7 lbs, Bresse tastes great but doesn’t produce a lot of meat. These birds are available in blue, gray, white, and black colors. Though they have different variants regarding color, they grow within sixteen to twenty weeks (that’s a lot of time as compared to the harvest time of other breeds that produce meat) and are expensive enough. However, the good thing about the Bresse chickens is that they don’t need to be fed expensive food.
So, if you prefer the taste of its meat more than the quantity, and can wait for a few weeks for the chickens to grow, then Bresse can be the right choice.
Dual-Purpose Chicken Breeds
If you want to collect eggs from your chickens and wait for the chickens to grow so you can use them as tasty meat, then dual-purpose breeds are the best option for you. These kinds of chicken breeds lay a lot of eggs. As they grow, they can be used for your meal too. That’s why these are called dual-purpose chicken breeds.
Examples of such breeds are the following:
Since the original Marans had lightly feathered legs, this is something you’d spot in many French birds.
It comes in different colors such as Golden Cuckoo, Dark Cuckoo, Black, Copper Blue, Black Tailed Buff, White and Silver Cuckoo among many others.
The Marans chickens can be mated with an unbarred cock for producing sex-linked hybrid offspring.
This breed is a favorite garden chicken in many countries. This chicken comes in brown, coronation, buff, light, red, and speckled colors.
The Sussex is a good dual -purpose chicken breed for beginners and relatively easy to keep. They’re regarded as good foragers and are often used to create hybrids.
Usually docile, the Sussex chickens are also upright and alert.
This breed is a result of cross-breeding various chicken breeds such as White Leghorn and Black Australorp, to name a few, to get the best qualities of each one.
Appearance-wise, pure Koekoeks are mainly black-and-white in color.
The Wyandotte is a popular show bird and is bred in various colors. It produces a greater number of eggs during January, September, October, and December. Their docile nature makes them a good choice for backyard chickens.
A small breed, this one is not bred so much in the US, but has been a popular choice in Egypt for centuries. It matures very young.
Though its egg production is slightly less as compared to other chicken breeds grown in the US, these chickens are flighty and lively. They do particularly well in hot climates. Another plus point is that they are economical eaters.
Extremely cold-resistant, this one is actually on the endangered list of rare breeds. This breed originated in Canada. Not only does Chanteclars withstand cold weather, but they also produce both eggs and meat.
Turken (Naked Neck)
Being naturally devoid of feathers on its neck and vent is a feature unique to this breed, and this is why it got its name. It also looks like a Turkey!
This breed had its origins in Transylvania and was developed in Germany. Turkens are friendly, calm, and one of the easiest chickens to tame.
Breeds for Cold Climates
When considering the perfect breed of chicken, always take into account the local climate and how close it is to the bird’s actual natural climate. A bad match can be disastrous or even downright deadly.
You may feel chilled at 5° while your friend feels cold at 15°. Therefore, we all have unique preferences. And yes, this is equally true for surviving those chilly winds! However, when it comes to chickens, certain breeds can live in blistering weather of -10° while other chicken breeds prefer the warmth of 30° and above.
There’s no complexity behind this. Once you have the necessary knowledge about the breeds that are well-suited for the cold climates, you’re ready to raise them!
Here are some features of breeds that can be raised well in cold regions:
- Small combs are found among chickens that live well in cold climates. However, those with large combs are at the risk of getting frostbitten.
- Chickens with a lot of feathers can bear very low temperatures due to their heavy coat.
- Feathered legs can also be a problem when raising chickens in cold weather, as mud and slush can get stuck to the leg. Which could lead to frostbite. Therefore, breeds that don’t have feathers on their legs are preferred for colder climates.
Now that you know the characteristics of chicken breeds that are better suited to colder temperatures, you can pick your favorite from the following breeds:
This pretty little bird has flat rose combs that are excellent for extreme cold. Keep in mind though that they do not tolerate high heat.
A pea-combed chicken, Ameraucana also has a beard. That’s why they’re preferred by chicken keepers who live in cold and humid climatic areas, like South America. Though they lay blue eggs, after the first year, their egg laying is drastically reduced.
Did you know that Buckeye is the only breed of chicken that was developed by a woman? Nettie Metcalf came up with this breed of chicken in the 1800s in the state of Ohio. This bird has a small comb and feathery plumage. The Buckeye is friendly and calm in nature.
Rhode Island Reds
Specifically designed by natives of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, this breed was created way back in the 1800s. They’re great for cold climates because of their feathery body. The best part is that they do well not only in cold climates but in warm ones too.
It’s thick and heavy feathers are the reason why this breed is perfect for chilly areas.
How to Get Your Chickens through the Winter
All the breeds mentioned above have been selected for their ability to survive through extreme weather. Many of the breeds known for being cold hardly have been kept successfully in Alaska and Canada, and there isn’t anywhere else in the world it gets any colder. However, for anyone still worried about helping these, or other all-rounder breeds of chicken, survive extreme cold, here are a few tips:
- Vaseline works great at keeping the birds’ frost-bite free. Just smear a little bit on the combs and wattles every day or as needed.
- It’s a great idea to give them a handful of scratch every day in the evening. This will keep the digestion in order and help them stay warm.
- Make sure your coop has proper ventilation all year round. If not vented properly, the resulting moisture from breathing and pooping can lead to a damp coop and health issues for your prized chickens.
- Always pick up the eggs on time, because they might freeze and crack in the cold if left out for too long.
- Change the bedding frequently, providing the chicken with clean, dry bedding every time.
- Use a heated watering bowl to give your birds access to clean water at all times.
- Once you’re comfortable with your chosen breed of chicken and understand their care needs, you can try diversifying your flock with other bird breeds as well.
Breeds for Hot Climates
First things first, let’s clarify what exactly is a hot climate: regions where the temperature is generally above 32° Celsius, are considered to be hot. Therefore, breeds that can handle this temperature are known as hot climate chicken breeds. Here are some of their common features:
- Lack of heavy plumage or too many feathers is the top feature of a hot weather chicken. That’s because chickens with heavy feathers end up getting heat exhaustion.
- Larger combs and lighter colors work well in hot areas because it keeps them safe from catching heatstroke.
- Chickens with smaller bodies also do well in hot climates.
Some of the best chicken breeds that you can keep in scorching hot climates are:
These are the breeds that are an excellent choice for experienced breeders who have a lot of space for the chickens to roam free. It’s their appearance that’s striking. That’s why they’re considered exhibition chickens.
Considered to be one of the best chickens for heat hardy weather conditions, Leghorns are perfect for farmers as well as hobbyists. These friendly creatures start laying eggs when they’re young.
Not only are they great for hot weather, but they’re also equally good for cold climatic conditions too. The females are docile and small, which makes them easier to breed.
Barred Plymouth Rock
The most commonly kept chickens in hot climate regions, Barred Plymouth Rocks are some of the most loyal to their flocks. They can deal with both hot and cold climates easily. These chickens can be kept by professional breeders as well as backyard chicken raisers.
Bantam Chicken Breeds
Bantam breeds of poultry are miniature versions of the regular-sized birds and are mainly distinguishable by their smaller size (about a quarter of the size of a standard chicken), making them quite ideal for smaller backyards and popular as pets.
There are also some true bantam chickens that don’t have counterparts in larger breeds. Bantam breeds consume less feed compared to full-size chickens but usually share the same characteristics.
Let's take a look at the standard features of bantam breeds:
Most bantam hens are quite good at laying four to five eggs per week. Since the hens are small, the eggs are also smaller than a standard chicken egg but equally delicious as fresh farm eggs.
Undoubtedly, each chicken has its own personality, yet bantams are quite friendly birds and make perfect pets for children. Give them lots of love and care, and they'll be your best friend!
Most breeds of bantam chickens have good maternal instinct and incubate their eggs. Cochin and Silkie bantams, as well as bantams from heavy breeds, have a high tendency of staying on their eggs.
Why Should You Choose Bantam Chickens?
If you’re tight on space in your backyard but love to have some pretty chickens strutting around, bantam breeds are the best you could have. Below are some great reasons why you should choose bantam chickens:
When it comes to laying eggs, bantam chickens are quite productive. Of course, their small size means the eggs would be smaller, but they carry the same nutritional value. You can use it just like you would a regular chicken egg except that a bantam egg is roughly half the normal one. For craft projects, bantam eggs are quite appealing with their sizes and shell colors.
Perfect for Little Hands
For the littlest of farmers, bantam chickens represent the ideal starter birds to take care of. Children love to have small pets that are friendly and can easily be held in hands which bantam birds quite perfectly do. Bantams require smaller feeding dishes, so little ones can easily handle the responsibilities of filling up water and food without being overburdened.
Compared to your full-sized chickens, bantams' sizes range from one-third to one-fifth the size of a standard chicken. Therefore, bantams are quite adorable with their proud strut around the farm.
Be a Mom to All
Bantams are great brooders and make excellent mothers willing to provide warmth to all eggs! Apart from sitting on their own eggs in the nest, they can set turkey eggs, duck eggs, and even standard chicken eggs. Many farmers use bantam hens to incubate their regular eggs because they are so good at it. Silkie hens with their soft and fluffy feathers love to brood quite regularly.
Suitable for Smaller Spaces
In smaller farms, backyards with limited capacity or urban areas where space is a premium, bantam birds are the best option. A standard chicken requires two square feet of indoor space while a bantam only needs a square foot. This means you can house more bantam birds and enjoy a greater variety of flock.
Lots of Breeds to Choose from
Bantams are available in a wide variety of breeds. Therefore, you'll find them in a variety of sizes and shapes. There are true bantam breeds such as Tuzo, Sebright, and Rosecomb which are naturally smaller birds. Others are bred small from the larger breeds and therefore mini versions of regular sized birds. Examples include Leghorn, Light Sussex, Rhode Island Red, and Cochins.
Require Less Maintenance
These smaller chickens require less food and water, smaller living space and don’t make too much mess. Those who have tighter budgets but love having a chicken coop can raise bantams. They’re just like regular chickens but are quite entertaining with their smaller size.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Don’t let the small size fool you. Bantam chicken breeds have big personalities and are quite entertaining to have around. Despite being small in size, they strut around their space like a king.
Get Your Bantam on the Stage
Bantam chickens can be found in a variety of colors and patterns and therefore can be raised as show chickens. It’s a great hobby to engage and network with poultry fans. Favorite bantams for poultry shows include Silkie, Polish, Seabright, and Houdan.
Although raising bantam breeds is equal to raising the regular larger chickens, there are specific differences that you should consider. Firstly, you can let your bantams run with full-sized chicken breeds, and they'll do just fine.
It’s best to consider individual chicken personalities since sometimes larger chickens tend to pick on bantams. In that case, it’s better to keep each breed at a distance. Moreover, bantam hens when mating with larger roosters can be dangerous.
The other thing you should also consider when having them together in a mixed flock is adjusting the food and water dish according to chicken size. Since larger chickens prefer pelleted food, you can have a separate food dish altogether for bantams with crumble size food.
Secondly, be sure to house your bantams in secure space with high boundaries since they can fly better than regular chickens. Of course, you wouldn’t want your bantam squeezing out of a hole in the fence and becoming a target of neighborhood dogs and cats.
Should You Start Raising Chickens with an Egg, Chicks, or Adult?
It’s quite a chicken and egg situation here. The choice of whether to buy hatching eggs, day old baby chicks, or adult chickens depend on whether you want to experience the joy of hatching your own chicks, invest time, love and energy raising day-old chicks or get instant eggs with laying hens.
You can find hatching eggs from a local farm and feed store, a local breeder or eBay and Craigslist. When you buy fertile eggs, you should always consider the chance that they might not hatch.
You’ll also have to buy an incubator to incubate the eggs for an average of 21 days at the right temperature and humidity level. From time to time, you’ll have to regulate the environment and turn the eggs.
Although the probability of chicks hatched from all eggs is low, the joy of watching this miracle is beyond words.
Purchasing Day Old Chicks
You can buy your day-old chicks from local poultry farms or feed stores, or even order them via post from a hatchery. Apart from the excitement of receiving a box of young, peeping chicks, you get to choose what bantam breed chicks you would like to add to your flock.
Since they’re quite young, you can develop a bond with them quite easily that strengthens over time as you feed, teach, and pet them. It’s quite a fulfilling experience watching tiny chicks grow into beautiful bantam chickens strutting around your backyard.
Of course, day-old chicks require a lot of care for the first few weeks of their life. These fragile babies need a safe place where they can be kept warm, watered, and fed. You can make your brooder out of a big plastic tub or a large cardboard box, in case you have just a handful of chicks. If you have more baby chicks, you need an elaborate brooder.
Since chicks cannot initially regulate their body temperature, you need to have a heat lamp. Consider lining the floor of the brooder with pine shavings or old newspapers. If you don’t have a coop or a garage, you’ll have to keep the bantam babies inside your house which may be a bit smelly. You should also make sure to give feed designed explicitly as a starter for chicks for the first eight weeks or so.
You should be prepared beforehand because sometimes the delivery could be a day earlier. Also, it’s possible that one (or more) of your chicks might die during delivery. Although most hatcheries do offer replacements or refunds, it can be quite traumatic when waiting eagerly for your babies only to find a few didn’t make it through.
Bantam chicks certainly require more time and care than older chickens. After about six months, your baby chicks would have grown into beautifully feathered hens ready to lay some eggs. In case you have bought straight run (unsexed) birds, you might end up with a baby rooster. When they have blossomed, separate them if you wish to have hens only for laying eggs.
Purchasing Older Chickens
Adult chickens may be obtained from local farmers, or through classifieds or even Craigslist. For those who can't wait six months for the chicks to grow, buying older chickens that are ready to lay eggs is the best option. Compared to vulnerable chicks, you don’t need to invest as much time, attention or money on adult chickens.
You can start off with an adequate sized coop rather than a brooder. It’s also easier to purchase hens and roosters for your flock depending on what you need.
Despite the advantages, there are certain downsides to purchasing adult chickens. Firstly, it might be hard to really know how old the chicken is. Adult chickens are very productive in the first few years of their adulthood after which their capacity to lay eggs diminishes. You’ll have to take the seller's word regarding the age of the birds.
Secondly, observe the environment in which the chickens were raised with regards to cleanliness, living space, and health of the birds. When purchasing older birds, you have no idea how they were raised in the first six months of their life, so you'll have to go with your gut instinct.
Another cause of concern when opting for older birds is whether they will adjust with your flock of mixed birds and be friendly towards you. Finally, older chickens cost more than baby chicks and you might not be able to find specific breeds you're looking for.
Where to Get Your First Chickens
Regardless of whether you’re starting out your bantam chicken flock or are adding different breeds to your existing assortment, it might be a tough decision to make regarding where to purchase your chickens from. There are a lot of sources from where you can obtain chickens to add to your flock such as hatcheries, local farm stores, your local farmer and Craigslist.
How to Purchase from Hatcheries
Browse online for hatcheries situated closer to your location and order chicks within minutes. It’s best to choose a hatchery near you so that the babies don’t have to travel long distances to reach you. Perhaps, the best advantage an online hatchery has to offer is the convenience of obtaining chicks belonging to rare breeds.
During warmer months, many hatcheries can ship even a few chicks to your post office. But during winter months, only larger orders are accepted. This is because, with smaller orders, the chicks won't be able to warm each other up enough to survive inside the shipping container.
The US Postal Service has been delivering baby chicks through the mail for over a century, and although they handle delicate lives with care, accidents can happen. Since it’s hard to know how many make it through, it is best to add more chicks to your order so that you can have the desired flock you need.
How to Approach Local Farm Supply Stores
Make way to local farm stores during early spring, and you'll be lucky to see young chicks chirping. There might be a limited choice with regards to breeds, and the gender might be unknown. In case the store obtained chicks from local sources, they might be mixed breeds which are great later on when you’ll have colorful adult chickens in your flock.
On the other hand, if the farmer supply store got their baby chicks from the hatchery, they would know the breed and gender. Since female only chicks cost more, the store might have ordered a straight run to save money.
As spring progresses, the farm store might even offer pellets although they might be expensive than young chicks. But at the same time, you can save on the expenses of a brooder and heater.
How to Adopt Baby Chicks
During the Easter season, some people purchase baby chicks because of the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs connotation. They are then unable to cater to the demands of these chicks and usually put them up for adoption.
Many people place advertisements on Craigslist and local classifieds selling their chicks because they require constant care and attention.
You might even be lucky enough to come across people selling their entire well-established flock because they’re moving to another location or have outgrown their hobby of raising chickens in their backyard.
How to Contact a Farmer
At the farmer's market, your local farmer must know some of his farmer pals that breed chickens and are into the business of supplying bantam chickens to those who want to raise a backyard flock. In case you don’t know a farmer, you can check out local directories or the social media for farmers in the locality that breed chickens for sale.
Concluding Choosing a Chicken Breed
Now that you know everything about choosing a chicken breed and where and how to acquire your future flock, keep an eye open for our other articles about housing, health, feeding, and watering, as well as hatching eggs.