Best Chicken Hatchery - How to Buy Baby Chicks

Major Chicken Hatcheries Cackle Hatchery Hoover's Hatchery Murray
McMurray
Hatchery
Meyer Hatchery My Pet Chicken Stromberg's
Chicks & Gamebirds
10 white egg layers* $29.50 $37.60 $39.00 $38.90 $35.50 $49.90
10 brown egg layers $29.50 $22.10 $30.90 $49.70 $35.50 $47.00
10 colored egg layers $36.10 $43.70 $39.00 $38.90 $40.00 NA
Minimum order 3 15 Varies 15 12 25
Avg. review 4.4 4 3.5 4 NA 4.3
Reviews 2,122 230 114 257 NA 113
Chicken Breeds
Chicken Breeds brown egg layers, white egg layers, colored egg layers, rare breeds, bantam chickens, old english game birds, cold weather chickens, hot weather chickens white egg layer, started pullets, polish and crested, dark egg layers, colored egg layers, brown egg layers, bantams white egg layers, brown egg layers, bantams, tinted egg layers, meat chickens white egg layers, brown egg layers, bantams, colorful egg layers, meat chickens, started pullets white egg layers, brown egg layers, chocolate egg layers, tinted egg layers, green/olive egg layers, blue egg layers brown egg layers, white egg layers, ornamental chickens, meat producing chickens
Brown Egg Layers
White Egg Layers
Colored Egg Layers
Rare Egg Layers
Bantams
Old English Game Birds X X
Cold Weather Chickens
Hot Weather Chickens
Polish
Meat Birds
White Plymouth Rock
White Leghorn
Brown Leghorn
Red Cross X X X X X X
ISA Browns X X X X X
New Hampshire
Golden Comets X X X
Black Sex Link X X
Black Australorp
Amber Link X X X X X
Other Birds Offered
Adult birds X X
Water fowl
Turkey X
Guinea fowl X
Game birds X
Hatching eggs X X
Ships To
Lower 48
Hawaii
 & Alaska
NA
Puerto Rico
 & Virgin Is.
NA X X X
International X X X X X X
More
Location Lebanon, MO Rudd, IA Webster City, IA Polk, OH Monroe, CT Hackensack, MN
Lower 48 NA NA
Sexing Guarantee 90% 90% 90% 100% 90% NA



Other Chicken Hatcheries The Chick
  Hatchery
Myer's Poultry
  Farm
Moyer's Chicks Mt. Healthy
  Hatcheries
Townline
  Hatchery
Freedom
  Ranger
  Hatchery
Welp Hatchery
10 white egg layers* $35.50 $39.30 NA NA NA NA NA
10 brown egg layers $35.50 $39.30 NA NA NA NA NA
10 colored egg layers $38.50 $40.10 NA NA NA NA NA
Minimum order 3 15 20 3 15 25 25
Avg. review 4.7 5 4.9 4.4 4.1 4.6 4.1
Reviews 42 11 91 34 30 22 9
Chicken Breeds
Chicken Breeds bantams, brown egg layers, colored egg layers, dark brown egg layers, white egg layers white egg layers, brown egg layers, dark brown egg layers, colored egg layers brown egg layers, white egg layers, ready to lay pullets white plymouth rock chickens, white leghorn chickens, rhode island red chickens, red cross chickens, ISA browns, new hampshires chickens, golden comets chickens, brown leghorn chickens, black sex link chickens, barred plymouth rock chickens, black australorp chickens, amberlink chickens standard breeds, premium breeds, rare breeds freedom ranger chickens, kosher king, jackie males, freedom ranger color yield amberlink, australorp, buff orpington, california white, leghorn, new hampshire red, plymouth rock, rhode island
Brown Egg Layers
White Egg Layers
Colored Egg Layers X NA X
Rare Egg Layers X
Bantams X
Old English Game Birds X X X
Cold Weather Chickens NA NA
Hot Weather Chickens NA NA
Polish X X X X
Meat Birds NA
White Plymouth Rock X X X X
White Leghorn X
Brown Leghorn X X X
Red Cross X X X X
ISA Browns X X X
New Hampshire X X
Golden Comets X X X X
Black Sex Link X X
Black Australorp X X
Amber Link X X X
Other Birds Offered
Adult birds X X X X X NA X
Water fowl X
Turkey X X
Guinea fowl X
Game birds X X
Hatching eggs X X X X
Ships To
Lower 48
Hawaii
 & Alaska
X X AK
Puerto Rico
 & Virgin Is.
X X NA X PR
International X X X X X X
More
Location Lansing, MI South Fork, PA Quakertown, PA Cincinnati, OH Zeeland, MI Reinholds, PA Bancroft, IA
Lower 48 NA NA
Sexing Guarantee 90% 90% NA 100% 9NA NA NA

 

Chart updated: 4/1/20. Email us if you have any updates. 


 

There are many ways to get baby chicks to your home; the best way to get baby chicks delivered is through a hatchery. 

There are typically 2 ways to buy:

  1. Online

  2. Local hatchery

Pros and cons of buying online

Pros:

  1. Easy - You can order everything you need from the comfort of your home

  2. Satisfaction guarantee - Most hatcheries offer a guarantee that you’ll get a 90+% success rate with the chicks that are delivered

  3. Supplies - most online hatcheries offer supplies like incubators too, meaning you’ll get everything you need in one transaction

Cons:

  1. Impersonal - There’s no personal relationship built by buying online

  2. Shipping - Costs can get high depending on where you live

  3. Availability - Chicks can sell out quickly, especially if you want to buy later in the season. There’s also a chance that the birds you want do not ship to your state (Hawaii & Alaska)

Pros and cons of buying locally

Pros:

  1. Personal - The opportunity is there to build a personal relationship and trust with your local hatchery

  2. Shipping - There are no shipping costs involved when buying locally

  3. Success rate - Your success rate should be 100%

Cons:

  1. Availability - Local hatcheries are sometimes hard to come by, and you may need to travel a long way to get to one

  2. Specialized - Local hatcheries tend to be breed-specific (Silkies, Buff Orpington etc.)

Chicks have been delivered from hatcheries for more than a century but things are 10x easier now that you can do it online too!

In this article, we’ll go through the ins and outs of ordering chicks from a hatchery as well as giving you everything you need to know about each individual hatchery so you can make an educated decision when you’re ready to order!

baby chick

The Basics of Both

You might be thinking “how does a hatchery in Missouri get live chicks to me in California with little-to-no problems in less than three days?!” Well, it’s a decent question.

Inside the egg prior to hatching, the chick absorbs the rest of the yolk into its own body, which gives it enough nutrition for the first few days of its life.

This is because in the wild, many chicks hatch over a 24+ hour period, and the mother will wait until all chicks have hatched before going to find food for them.

The first chick to hatch will have enough nutrition while it waits for its siblings to hatch too.

Because of this, hatcheries are able to send freshly hatched chicks across the United States with little worry that they’ll run out of the essential nutrition they need before they reach you.

Building your flock this way can be a less expensive, less stressful and much less time-consuming way than hatching the chicks themselves.

When to Get Baby Chicks

The best time to buy chicks is in the springtime. It’s also the time when hatcheries will recommend you place your orders as they won’t ship baby chicks during the freezing winter months.

The reason spring is the best time to get baby chicks is:

  • The temperature - the weather is perfect to raise chicks. It’s not too hot, not too cold

  • Transitions - Eventually, you’ll need to take your chicks out of the brooder and introduce them to your yard. A spring climate will be perfect for this as they won’t need to struggle to transition

  • Mess - Leaving your chicks in the brooder for the first 6-8 weeks will give your yard a chance to get rid of the snow and dry up a bit. You don’t want to be trudging around with your boots and your birds covered in mud

baby chicks

Chicken Hatchery - Buying Online

A chicken hatchery is the best way to go for getting baby chicks. The baby chicks will be delivered in a couple of days and you will have to go to the Post Office directly to pick them up.

There are a BUNCH of online hatcheries, so we’ve put together a chart comparing them all below!

Most chicken hatcheries are family owned and operated, and they take great pride in their business, so you can be sure that you’ll be receiving quality poultry 99% of the time.

cackle hatchery

hoovers hatchery

meyer hatchery

Upon arrival, you’ll want to open the box at the post office and check on the chicks inside. If you run into any issues like chicks who unfortunately passed away in transit, you’ll need a witness from the Post Office to sign off on this.

meyer hatchery box

If you leave and find this out later, the Post Office will not sign this for you as there is no way of them knowing what happened between there and your house.

Hatcheries usually shoot for a 90% success rate with deliveries, so if you encounter problems with your order, they’re usually very happy to send more chicks or refund you.

Hatcheries will also add more chicks to boxes to keep this success rate high.

Hatcheries will generally separate chicks either by breed or by which colored eggs they lay. Once you know which breed you want, you can simply place the minimum order for that many on the website.

If you’re not too picky, many hatcheries also offer the chance to buy a mixed flock of chicks. This can add some serious color and character to your backyard as you’ll get a bunch of different breeds in one shipment!

Chicken Hatchery - Buying Local

Most online hatcheries do not have a storefront, so if you want a personal touch when you’re buying chicks, you’ll need to go to a local hatchery.

Local hatcheries can often not be “local” at all since there’s not many of them around. You may have to drive a little while to find one, but it can be worth it to ensure the success rate.

Local hatcheries will produce a finite amount of birds per week/month, and many of them are specialized in terms of breeds.

VJP Poultry near Minneapolis, MN specializes in Silkies. They hatch weekly, and when the chicks are gone, they’re gone!

When buying locally, you’ll want to make sure you take a box with some bedding inside for the chicks you’re going to buy since hatcheries may not provide this for you.

Contacting your local hatchery 2-3 weeks in advance is your best bet to ensure you’ll get the chicks you want. Showing up as a walk-in customer probably won’t work in your favor considering local hatcheries are generally first-come, first-serve. 

Hatching Chicken Eggs

Many people like the idea of hatching eggs inside an incubator and raising chicks from the earliest possible time. 

Many hatcheries sell fertilized eggs too, so you don’t necessarily need a rooster and hens already on your farm to do this.

You will want to make sure that you have an incubator on-site before you purchase these eggs, as they’ll need to be transferred into the incubator as soon as you receive them.

Success rates are lowered if you’re purchasing fertilized eggs because hatcheries simply cannot guarantee the conditions that these eggs will travel in.

If you’d like more information on hatching chicken eggs, please read Chapter 5 of our How to Breed Chickens Guide!

chick hatching

Water Fowl

Many of our readers have mixed flocks that include ducks and geese!

If you’re interested in welcoming water fowl into your flock, many hatcheries offer them and the process is the same as buying chickens!

Ducks and geese are a little bit more expensive than your average hen, but the extra price can be worth it to add a character-filled quacker into your backyard.

Each duck will need about 5 sq. feet of space, so factor this in when you’re putting a coop together.

You’ll also want to make sure that you have a wading pool available for them with an easy-access ramp so they can swim around.

You may also need to trim their wings so they don’t fly away, or simply put a roof on top of their pen.

Water fowl are much better flyers than chickens, so if you don’t think you’re ready for a mixed flock, make sure you make all the changes required before you purchase them.

baby duckling

After reading this, you should be ready to buy some baby chicks and introduce them to your backyard flock!

If you have any more questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to us at milefour@milefour.com!

Thank you!

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