In the digital age, even acquiring livestock like chickens has been simplified to a mere click. If you’re looking to start your backyard poultry flock, ordering chickens online can be a viable option.
This article provides an in-depth guide on how to buy chickens online, the pros, cons, and other essential information you need to know.
Understanding Online Chicken Ordering
Online chicken ordering is a process where you select and purchase chickens from an online poultry store or hatchery. The chickens (usually sold as chicks) are then shipped directly to your doorstep.
The Process of Ordering Chickens Online
1. Choosing a Reputable Online Hatchery: Ensure you select a reputable online hatchery that guarantees healthy chicks. Look for customer reviews, health guarantees, and check their compliance with the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP).
2. Selecting Your Breeds: Online hatcheries usually offer a variety of breeds. Research each breed’s characteristics, such as temperament, egg-laying ability, and adaptability to your climate, to choose the best fit for your needs.
3. Placing Your Order: Once you’ve selected your breeds, decide on the number of chicks, and place your order. Some hatcheries have a minimum order to ensure the chicks keep each other warm during shipping.
4. Receiving Your Chickens: Chicks are usually shipped within a day or two of hatching. You’ll typically need to pick them up from your local post office. Inspect the chicks immediately to ensure they are healthy.
Advantages of Ordering Chickens Online
1. Variety of Breeds: Online hatcheries often have a wider variety of breeds compared to local stores or farms.
2. Convenience: You can research, select, and purchase your chickens without leaving your home.
3. Information Availability: Most online hatcheries provide comprehensive information about each breed, helping you make an informed decision.
Considerations When Ordering Chickens Online
1. Shipping Stress: The shipping process can be stressful for chicks. Ensure you’re prepared to provide immediate care and attention when they arrive.
2. No Individual Selection: Unlike buying in person, you can’t individually select your chicks when buying online.
3. Shipping Costs: Buying chickens online can have additional shipping costs compared to purchasing from a local farm.
Tips for Success in Online Chicken Ordering
1. Prepare Ahead: Have your brooder setup ready before the chicks arrive.
2. Order in Cooler Months: Shipping in extreme heat can be harmful to chicks. It’s generally safer to order in cooler months.
3. Communicate with the Seller: If you have any concerns or special requests, don’t hesitate to communicate with the hatchery.
Chicken Breeds for Specific Needs
While buying chickens online, consider what you want from your flock. Different breeds are known for various characteristics:
1. Egg-laying breeds: If you’re primarily interested in egg production, consider breeds like the White Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, or Sussex, known for their prolific egg-laying abilities.
2. Meat breeds: Breeds like the Cornish Cross or Jersey Giant are popular for meat due to their fast growth and larger size.
3. Dual-purpose breeds: Breeds like the Plymouth Rock, Orpington, and Wyandotte are excellent for both egg-laying and meat.
4. Ornamental breeds: If you’re interested in unique and eye-catching chickens, consider ornamental breeds like the Silkie or Polish.
Understanding Chick Sexing
Most hatcheries offer options to buy chicks sexed (sorted by gender) or straight-run (unsorted). Sexed chicks are usually more expensive, but they give you more control over your flock’s composition.
When ordering chickens online, it’s essential to consider biosecurity to prevent disease spread. Quarantine new arrivals for a couple of weeks, monitor them for signs of illness, and maintain good hygiene practices.
Long-term Commitment and Care
Chickens can live for many years and require daily care, including feeding, cleaning, and health checks. They also need secure housing to protect them from predators. Before ordering chickens online, make sure you’re prepared for the long-term commitment involved in their care.
Legal Restrictions and Regulations
Before you order chickens online, check your local laws and regulations. Some urban areas restrict poultry keeping or limit the number of chickens you can have.
Also, some regions may have restrictions on shipping live poultry. Always ensure you’re in compliance with your local regulations.
Ordering chickens online can be a convenient and accessible way to start or expand your flock. By choosing a reputable online hatchery and preparing adequately for your chicks’ arrival, you can ensure a successful and exciting start to your poultry-keeping journey.
As with any form of online shopping, make sure to do your due diligence, understand the shipping policies, and always keep the wellbeing of the animals in mind.