Getting started. Why raise chickens? 3
Requirements (parts list) for raising chickens 4
Basic breed types and their characteristics 2
Purebred flock vs. assortment 2
Incubators and hatching chicks 3
When things go wrong and predators too! 5
Processing birds 4
Website Resources About Chickens
The internet can be a great source of information and networking. As you probably know, there are some websites which do a better job than others in how they deal with their given subject. Here are some websites which I appreciate.
There are MANY more resources out there. If they are here, it’s because I know them. A site or a company which does not appear on this page may be VERY good. If you would like to recommend another, please leave it as a comment, below. I’ll look into it!
Actual Websites Dedicated to Chickens and other Poultry
The ALBC is a wonderful group of people striving to preserve and promote breeds of livestock, once standard fare in various parts of the United States, but which are now endangered. They deal in all kinds of livestock, poultry included. I would say a “trademark” of the ALBC is excellence in research and documentation. This would also be a great place to start looking, if you want to raise a rare breed. Breeders can be found here.
This is a forum type website. Backyard chickens is pretty large. Here, one can find information on almost anything that has to do with chickens. Be aware that not everyone who responds to a question, knows a whole lot. Still, there are some very knowledgeable people on this forum. Friendliness is a strong point of Backyard chickens.
This is a very extensive website, listing other kinds of poultry, even pigeons, apart from chickens. I appreciate that the owner of the website has listed breed clubs and accepted input from many poultry fanciers. Feathersite is a good place to go if you want to start looking into different breeds of chickens.
Another kind of Resource: Breed Clubs
If you want to focus on a certain breed, a breed club can be a huge help. Breed clubs are groups of people who are all fans of the same breed. There are some wonderful breeds of chickens out there, some of which are very much neglected and in danger of extinction. Breed clubs can be instrumental in saving such breeds. Also, if you want to raise really high quality birds, a breed club can be a great place to start looking. Be prepared to pay considerably more for superior stock. With some rare breeds there can even be a waiting list.
For some rare breeds there may be a waiting list to purchase stock.
I once looked into an extremely rare breed. Its breed club had a rule that they wouldn’t sell stock to anyone who hadn’t already been a member of the breed club for some time. At the time, I thought that was kind of sad. Now, I realize they were just being wise. If you really want to raise a rare valuable breed, be willing to wait (at times) and to start with only a few birds.
To find a breed club one could either do an internet search for a given breed, or, take a look at the breed in Feathersite or the ALBC.
Hatcheries can be useful when one wants to learn about different breeds of chickens, or even just learn about chickens. Most have very informative catalogs. Also, if you don’ t know what you want to raise, most hatcheries will cut you a special deal for a “grab bag” type of order. You pay less per chick and they select what kinds of chicks you receive. We did this the first year we were married and were only going to have chickens for one year. We got a great deal and the selection was really fascinating.
Hatcheries can be a resource in themselves.
Cackle Hatchery I’ve never purchased anything from Cackle. However, friends and poultry lovers I respect have always spoken highly of this hatchery. The one thing which stands out from my friends’ comments about Cackle Hatchery is that they tend to have good high quality stock.
Ideal Poultry This hatchery is in Texas and seems to have a special “pipeline” when shipping to our part of Oklahoma. We haven’t ordered from them for years, now. But when we did, their chicks arrived really fast. We specialize in Buckeyes, and obtained some of our earliest birds from Ideal. They were good birds, though, we finally obtained even better from a show breeder. Ideal is a good hatchery and deserves our business. By the way, their Buckeyes were plenty good enough for one to get to know the breed.
Murray McMurray Hatchery This is another good hatchery, which has served American homesteaders for over a century. Murray McMurray has a great selection of birds; not only chickens, but all kinds of poultry. This is the hatchery from which we purchased a mixed box of chicks, in 1982. Those chicks were great! The White Wyandotes were my favorites and Jerreth loved the Rhode Island Reds.
Sandhill Preservation Center This has been my favorite hatchery, though, I have to admit that, in part, it’s because for decades we’ve been friends with the Drowns, who own it. Sandhill Preservation Center is smaller than a lot of hatcheries one reads about. They have many breeds, some of which are extremely rare. The hatchery (and seed company) are family owned and operated, and Glenn Drowns is still working full time outside of these businesses. A disadvantage which comes with this arrangement is, that oftentimes it is next to impossible to order twenty-five chicks (minimum number for shipping) of just one breed of chicken. Also, this is not the company for you, if you simply must pay on-line. They work on the basis of checks and paper order forms. Yet, this is a wonderful hatchery, doing a great work of preservation. A “grab bag” type order from Sandhill would be most interesting due to the selection they carry! Here’s a link to a blog about Sandhill Preservation Center.
There are other hatcheries, some of which are excellent. Some hatcheries are quite small but sell and excellent product.
If you have a favorite hatchery, not mentioned here, by all means use the comment section below and tell us about it!