How to Buy Healthy Chicks from a Feed Store

Be an Informed Buyer, Ask Questions, Recognize Signs of Poor Health

It’s Spring and you might have buying baby chicks on your mind. This is when the feed stores have all those cute fuzzy butts available, and they certainly are hard to resist. Nothing wrong being an impulse buyer in my book, but at least be an informed one!
There are things to look for, and of course, you want to bring home healthy chicks. Once you leave the store, there’s no turning back, whatever chick problems you have, you’re stuck with, sorry, no returns.

Ask Questions

It’s good practice to ask the store manager when they received the chicks. Most likely the chicks were in transport before their arrival. During that time, chicks can become dehydrated, stressed, kept too cold or hot, all of which compromise a chick’s survival. Most chicks in poor health will die within the first two days of their life. You’ll want to avoid buying chicks until they’ve settled in at least 3-4 days after transport.
Marek’s disease is extremely contagious among chickens and usually fatal, so always make sure the chicks you buy were vaccinated at the hatchery.

Choosing Healthy Chicks

You’ll want to see active chicks, some resting, others eating & drinking, and some under a heat source. This is normal behavior. Avoid chicks that are all huddled together, or lethargic.
Eyes should be clear, and you don’t want to see any signs of fecal impaction, better know as pasty butts, Learn More.
The beak, top and bottom should be even, an over bite, or cross-over may interfere with proper eating.
Legs, should appear sturdy and straight.
Chicks will be fuzzy all over, avoid those with sparse or missing fluff.

Prepare

Have your brooder in place and ready to go before you bring home your baby chicks, it’s important to make their once again transition easy as possible. The brooder box should be the right temperature with bedding, a heat source, food/water in place.

More Information
Raising Baby Chicks, the First 7 Weeks
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Protect Your Baby Chicks from Life Threatening Fecal Impaction

Unexplained Death of Baby Chicks, Explained
amy elizabeth | TBN Ranch

At one time or another it’s inevitable you’ll lose one or more of your new baby chicks. Mail order chicks, or chicks kept in stressful conditions are most at risk.
We usually blame it one one thing or another, but the most common reason is often overlooked… and can be avoided…. Continue Reading

Fecal Impaction