Preparing for Baby Chicks

Decisions, Decisions…

The brooder is all set up and now it’s time to decide what kind of chicks to order. October is the best time to start day old chicks here in Phoenix.  Hopefully the breeds I’m interested in will be available.  You’d think 3 months advance notice would be sufficient time for a hatchery to ship my breed preferences, but most likely, it still boils down to LUCK.

Hatcheries don’t make it easy for the little guy, they only ship minimum orders of 15 birds and most all the fancy breeds and bantams (miniature chickens) are a straight run, not sexed.  Urban chicken keepers who have city codes banning roosters avoid straight run chicks because chances are good they’ll have unwanted roosters to re-home. Feed stores sell sexed chicks, but they are rarely the fancy type such as Silkies or the Crested varieties.

I bought a straight run from Murray McMurray Hatchery a few years ago, out of 15 chicks 9 were roosters! After spending 5 months of worrying about who was a hen and who was a rooster, I ended up with only two fancy pullets on my wish list… all six roosters went on CraigsList. I didn’t learn my lesson and again bought 12 non-standard variety chicks from a private party… half turned out to be roosters.

I can however, be guaranteed all pullets (hens, females) if I order standard breed chicks,  the minimum of 15 chicks still applies. But wanting just a small flock, I’ll be able to easily sell the unwanted female chicks.  So, there are decisions to make, the breeds I pick must be marketable, and marketable means good layers of large eggs.  Good egg layers are not what fancy chickens are known for, they are often considered exhibition birds, and only fair layers of small eggs. Fancy roosters are not in demand at all, and will most likely be looking for a home with many others in the same situation.

So I must decide, do I play it safe and buy standard breed sexed chicks, or take a gamble on fancy chicks and hope I don’t get stuck with a bunch of roosters who’ll be hard to re-home. I’d like to raise Polish and Silkie Bantams, those two breeds are at the top of my wish list… both sold in a straight run only.  And, both fair layers of small white eggs.

Delaware

DELAWARE

If I Play it Safe…

I can order all standard bred ladies, my chicks of choice are Delawares.

This breed was founded in the state of Delaware from an original Barred Rock and New Hampshire cross. The Delaware is considered a heavy breed which lays a nice size brown egg.  Cute babies!

But, this is what I really want,  the Silkie Bantam: Fair layer, small white eggs.

It’s either or, I won’t split the order and buy both Delawares and the Bantams…. however, if I order the Silkie Bantams,  I’ll probably mix the order with  7 White or Golden Polish Crested, for resale purposes.

Golden Polish Crested

??

What would you do? Play it safe of take a gamble?

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About tbnranch

amy elizabeth, writer, author, antique dealer. Lives in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert on a small hobby farm.
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12 Responses to Preparing for Baby Chicks

  1. It sounds to me like there’s really no argument. You really want those bantams! so get the bantams!

  2. p3farm says:

    Why not do both?? You will be happy with both 🙂

  3. Can you find people in your area to ‘go in on an order? Also I have found that Facebook groups an craigslist are great for finding what you want in small qty’s. I got a 1yr old Silkie mix on craigslist, she is broody at the moment and I found a lady in a Facebook group with Buff Brahma eggs (for only $1 ea!) for her to sit on.

    • tbnranch says:

      Haven’t found anybody yet… and I didn’t know about facebook groups. Not a fan of facebook, but I’ll look into the groups. Craigslist is definitely my best source. I certainly like the idea of buying fertile eggs if I do decide on Silkies. Thanks for that! I never keep broody hens, that behavior frustrates me, but if they’ll hatch babies I can deal with it. 🙂 Buff Brahma eggs? COOL, keep me posted!

  4. edshunnybunny says:

    I was faced with a similar choice in the spring of last year.. I ultimately chose to go with 6 ‘sexed’ chicks, all hens. It’s worked out well for me. Those hens are laying enough eggs to keep 3 families supplied with eggs.

    • tbnranch says:

      Yeah, I did the same thing the last two seasons. Now I guess I just want a little wow in the flock. It seems whatever birds I choose, I’m happy, don’t know why I spend so much time picking the perfect breed… they all have worked out great. Except the Rhode Island, mine are always bullies, so they are banned from here now, ha ha!

  5. shadowlilies says:

    It sounds like what you really want “good layers of large eggs”, and the assurance of no roos. I think you should play it safe this time and gamble next time. 🙂

    • tbnranch says:

      My family consists of 2. I can’t even use all the eggs my birds produce, I sell some, but give most away. So quantity is not that important to us… but it is if I’ll be selling off some of the chicks. People want producers, I understand that, just not that important to me.

  6. Littlesundog says:

    I’d get the Delaware’s… I’m all about egg production and nice, large eggs for cooking and baking. But, sometimes it’s better to get what you REALLY want!!! LOL Let us know what you decide on!

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