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
Resource Home Page

Broody Hens, Behavior and How to Handle It

Need a better understanding of the broody hen? Here’s a few articles that will help you address this behavior.

Tips on Breaking the Broody Hen

Definition of Broody: A hen with strong instincts to hatch eggs, whether or not they are fertile, or even present in the nest.
The Signs: Your hen won’t leave the nest, appears to not be eating, her feathers are all fluffed up, she’s pale, and lethargic. These are classic signs of the broody hen. First of all she isn’t starving, she is eating and drinking, but it’s low on her list of priorities… Read Article

More…

What is a Broody Hen and How to Deal With It
McMurray Hatchery Blog

It is normal for hens to “go broody” and some breeds are more prone to go broody than others. We thought we’d share some general information with you… Read Article

FYI… Chicken Breeds with Broody Tendencies

If you are only interested in egg production than you may not want to purchase chicks that have broody tendencies.  Broody hens can be troublesome, so if your not looking for a mother hen, here are the breeds you may want to avoid… Read Article

New Chicken Keeping Articles | June 3, 2016

Articles for Chicken Keepers, by Chicken Keepers is an updated collection of chicken keeping articles from across the web archived in one convenient library on our menu bar.
Have an article to submit? Send it to amyichi@yahoo.com with ARTICLE SUBMISSION on the subject line.

July 3, 2016
“Free Range” and “Pasture Raised” officially defined by HFAC for Certified Humane® label – Certified Humane
Wondering How to Wash Fresh Eggs? It’s Safer Not To! – Countryside Network
How to Build External Nest Boxes


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Feature Article
Everything you Need to Know about Chicken Roosting Bars
| Countryside Daily

Chickens like to seek a high perch on which to sleep to stay safe at night. Here’s a quick guide to building the best chicken roosting bars for your flock… Continue Reading

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