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.

 

 

 

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

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Selecting Spring Chicks

Murray McMurray’s April 1st selection of available chicks is indeed slim pickin’s. Hope you’re looking males only, because everything else is unavailable or of limited quantity. If you’re not looking for anything too specific, there are some choices.

Towards the end of April availability improves, especially for the more popular breeds. You can see their hatching schedule HERE.

Selection is skimpy, but it does buy me time to decide what I want.  The big question is how many. All the chicks I want are sold in a straight run only, meaning a minimum of 25 chicks & they aren’t sexed. This is a huge problem, I’ll be the one for sure to get what I can’t have… 24 roosters. That presents an even bigger problem, what to do with them!

City ordinance states NO ROOSTERS, however, I hear roosters crowing in the neighborhood every day, hmmm… my law abiding nature is indeed being tested.

Jojo
This is Jojo, my 1/2 Silkie cross

The ideal situation for me would be to have Silkie hens and one Rooster. There is a market for Silkies here in Phoenix and I’d love to breed and sell them.  What I need is a Silkie stud service.  I wonder if there’s a Rooster for Rent category on Craigslist… checking now. Think?