FAQ’s

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Mail Order Poultry

About Us

This is an important question for some people because the closer the hatchery is to their homes, the quicker the chicks arrive. While this sounds good, we find that chicks will actually fly across the country quicker than trucks can drive across several states so in reality all of our deliveries take about the same amount of time to get to their destinations, no matter where you are located. Some post offices do have a harder time fulfilling orders on time than others. All kinds of things can affect your shipment. We find location isn’t the biggest factor when it comes to delivery promptness. It just depends what routes the birds get on and how well they are handled on each leg of the journey. That can vary from one shipment to another greatly. Where are we located? Our office in located in Goshen, Indiana. We do not sell chicks or ship chicks from from our office.

You can find the region the chicks are shipping from by clicking on the “Additional Information” tab on the product page. It’s right beside the “Reviews” tab under the big red “Add to Cart” button. We have three major regions we ship from: the Pacific Coast, the Midwest, and the Northeast.

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Buying Poultry

We have a minimum order so that the chicks can help each other maintain proper temperatures during shipping.

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Good question!

In summary:

Layers lay a lot of eggs. All chickens (even meat chickens) will lay eggs but some chickens lay many more than others. Layers are usually smaller and so they aren’t great for meat. Plus, once a chicken is allowed to become sexually mature, they go through a hormone change that makes their meat tougher. Therefore layers don’t make great meat chickens.

Broilers are considered meat chickens. They are quicker growing breeds with deeper muscle tissue. They are butchered before sexual maturity and so broilers never lay eggs (although they would lay a few if allowed to become sexually mature). Broilers eat a lot of food and would not lay many eggs so they are not kept as egg layers.

Dual Purpose chickens are breeds that blur the lines between broilers and egg layers. Folks typically keep the chickens for about two years and when the egg production begins to drop, they butcher the chicken and eat it. These chickens are tougher than your typical meat chicken but can be used in stews and other recipes.

Bantams are simply smaller sized chickens that are typically prized as pets or ornamental chickens.

Read more about different types of chickens by clicking here.

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We have a minimum order of 15 chicks, ducks, or guinea fowl during the warmer months and 25 chicks from November 1 – March 31. This is to help keep the poultry warm during shipping.

You can mix and match eligible breeds to reach your minimum order but all the breeds must have the same hatch date selected. There is a minimum of 5 chicks per breed and gender.

You can see elegible mix and match breeds by clicking on the “Mix N Match” tab on the light gray description box on the product page.

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Mareks Disease is a very common virus that is highly contagious and can be quite deadly to chickens. Mareks vaccinations are available for most chicken breeds on our website. Ducks do not need vaccinations (curious as to why? Click here). Mareks vaccinations help the chickens survive the virus but does not make them completely immune from it. If they are exposed to the virus they should be considered carriers of the virus even if they’ve been vaccinated. Getting your chicks vaccinated for Mareks does NOT make them carriers of the virus. Read more about this subject by clicking here.

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Unfortunately accidents do happen and we’ve had snowstorms and other calamities that have messed up USPS delivery schedules. We guarantee that your chicks will arrive alive and we work with extraordinary hatcheries that have proven track records. Still, if the amount of chicks you ordered do not arrive alive, we will refund them or replace them for you. Read our Safe Arrival Guarantee here.

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You need to keep a close eye on baby chicks the first couple weeks and if something else comes up, we totally understand if you need to push off the order or cancel it altogether. This is OK but we do have a policy regarding cancellations. We charge your card when you place your order so the order is paid for when you are done checking out.

We need to know within 2 business days of the ship date of your order if you need to cancel your order. This is because the order packing slips are printed out and lined up at the hatchery the Friday before the ship week. If you cancel an order the same day the order is to be shipped we may not be able to stop the order from being shipped. Because of this we need two business days to cancel your order (business days will be considered Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Our office is open some Saturdays but Saturdays will not count as a business day). If you notify us with less than two business days until your order is shipped, we cannot guarantee that your order will be canceled. We will try our best to accommodate your situation but if your order doesn’t get canceled and leaves the hatchery, we cannot provide a refund although our safe arrival guarantee still applies. It will be your responsibility to have the order picked up at the post office.

If you do cancel your order and have more than two business days until your order is shipped, we can cancel your order and give you a full refund.

Do not cancel your order by disputing your credit card charges as this costs us extra fees and impacts our willingness to work with you in the future. Don’t be afraid to call or email us and cancel the order. We won’t be mad at you!

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Generally speaking: 1 Rooster to 10-13 hens. Click here for more details.

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Many people are surprised when they find out that you can ship live baby chicks through the mail. How does this work? Read the whole story here…

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No. All the available shipping dates are listed in the drop down box beside the product picture on the product page. Select your preferred hatch date and we’ll schedule your order to hatch and ship out on that date. We always ship out chicks a few hours after they hatch. In some cases we’ll have to reschedule your order for a different date (usually not more than one week earlier or later). We try to communicate with you and notify you of any changes we will make to your order.

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Nope. Never. The customs process takes way too long which is the biggest problem among a long list of issues.

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Not quite. We ship them to your local post office and you must pick them up there. We put your phone number on the mailing slip so your post office should call you when they arrive. It doesn’t hurt to call your post office a day ahead of time and let them know you’re expecting a shipment of chicks.

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Yes, all our poultry is available to ship to Alaska. Most of our layers are not available to ship to Hawaii. Click here for a list of our breeds that are available to ship to Hawaii.

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That is a legitimate concern that many people have but we take steps to prevent the spread of Avian flu and other contagious diseases. The hatcheries we ship from are part of the NPIP (National Poultry Improvement Program) which means they have to meet strict bio-security requirements. They also are in compliance with Pennsylvania state regulations and are subject to regular inspections to insure the industry protocols are being met. Hatcheries obviously have a lot to lose from Avian Influenza and take excessive and stringent steps to safeguard their operations. They meet all local and federal requirements and have an outstanding track record of health and safety. You can order our poultry with confidence.

See the current, up to date list of Avian Influenza outbreaks as reported by the USDA by clicking here.

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Nope. Sorry! We understand that would be nice but due to bio-security and the risk of contracting contagious diseases (such as the Avian Flu, coccidosis, etc) which can easily be transmitted to our premises on clothing and shoes, we do not allow local pick up from any of our suppliers. We only offer mail order poultry.

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You can mix and match eligible breeds to reach your minimum order but all the breeds must have the same hatch date selected. There is a minimum of 5 chicks per breed and gender.

You can see elegible mix and match breeds by clicking on the “Mix N Match” tab on the light gray description box on the product page.

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Chicken Care

When you want farm fresh eggs it seems like your chickens are taking really long just to spite you. But remember, patience is a virtue. You can’t rush nature. Typically chickens begin laying anywhere from 18-25 weeks, it just depends on the size and breed of the chicken. There’s not much you can do except wait. A chicken will reach maximum productivity in their first year or so and slowly decrease egg production as they age.

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When your chicks are fully feathered (about six – eight weeks old) and the temperature is warm enough. Typically you set your brooder (the pen used to start your chicks) temperature at 95 degrees for the first week. After that you reduce it 5 degrees per week until the temperature inside your brooder or coop matches the temperature outside. Be careful with your family dog! They might see your chickens as a tasty snack instead of cute, fluffy pets.

What if it’s winter outside? Chickens are very cold hardy if allowed to acclimate to the cold. They develop fluffy down under their hard feathers when exposed to the cold. This helps them stay warm in even subzero temperatures. However, if the chickens aren’t exposed to cold weather slowly, they can’t take it well since they haven’t developed those extra feathers yet. Keeping this in mind, expose your fully feathered chicks to the cold gradually so they can start developing the extra under feathers needed to handle the cold. There is no definite guideline. Keep an eye on them when they are outside. If they are all huddled together in a pile, they are too cold.

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See What to Feed Chickens

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One thing to remember when integrating new chickens: A flock can be immune to a disease but still carry it. This means they will look healthy but will be carriers of the disease. If you integrate those chickens into your flock, your flock may not be immune to the disease and will catch it quickly. It’s always risky to incorporate older chickens from other farms or flocks into your coop. We recommend never doing so. However, if the chicks have been raised on your farm from little on up, chances are they do not carry any diseases that your older flock has not already been exposed to.

There are different ways to do it and chickens have different personalities so the methods can vary a little. One of the best methods is to integrate the new chickens slowly. Wait until your chicks are old enough to handle themselves. Then introduce them to your flock but keep a wire mesh fence between them. This will allow your flock to get used to the new chickens while giving your chickens a refuge from the pecking order. Do this everyday for a week or two. Then let them mingle but keep an eye on the new members just to make sure they don’t get picked on excessively. Some picking is normal as this is how chickens establish pecking orders in the flock. The new members must find their place.

Scratch A Little Deeper: Brown Egg Layer Chicks for Sale by Mail Order

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We have a checklist to go through. Click here to diagnose your problem.

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Baby chicks need close attention, especially for the first several weeks. There are three things chicks need: heat, food, & water.

Heat:

Chicks need to be kept at 90 – 95 degrees on a consistent basis. The most common heating method is an infrared bulb in a metal shield (very commonly sold at hardware stores, farm supply stores, and even Wal-Mart). As a general rule of thumb, start with the light about 18″ off the floor of your brooder (the term brooder is used to describe any pen specifically designed to house baby chicks). Put a thermometer on the floor of the brooder. Start warming the brooder 24 hours before the chicks arrive. If the chicks huddle right underneath the lamp, it’s too cold. If they hang out on the far edges of the pen, it’s too hot. Adjust the height of the lamp accordingly. Depending on the amount of chicks you have, or the power of the bulb, you may need more than 1 light. Be sure to have an extra infrared bulb in case your bulb fails. Your chicks will die if they do not stay warm enough. Lethargic chicks or chicks with diarrhea may be a sign they are not the proper temperature.

Food: 

The first question that will arise when you go to buy baby chick feed is medicated or non-medicated? There is a simple difference. Medicated feed, as the name implies, has medication in it designed to prevent coccidiosis (a deadly disease common among chickens). Many folks use medicated feed as a pre-caution to prevent disease rather than using to treat sick chicks. However, others prefer to avoid medication when possible. It’s up to you. If you got chicks vaccinated for coccidiosis, do NOT feed them medicated feed as this will counteract the medication in the feed and render both useless. We don’t offer coccidiosis vaccines so if you got your chicks from us, you are safe to give them medicated feed.

Buying chick starter is pretty straight forward. You want about a 18 – 20% protein feed (protein content is usually prominently displayed on the packaging) for most chicken breeds. If you are raising broilers, or meat chickens, you may want a higher protein feed designed for fast growing chickens with a higher protein content like 21 – 24% Guinea fowl keets should be fed a wild game starter or a chick starter with around 24% protein.

Scratch A Little Deeper: Click here for more details on feeding poultry through all stages of life

Water:

Water is pretty simple. Give your chicks room temperature water (cold water will lower their body temperature). Right after your chicks arrive, it’s a good idea to put some electrolytes in their water to help them recover from dehydration or stress from shipping. A common brand is Sav-A-Chik (sold at Tractor Supply Stores and on Amazon) but people have used Gatorade, Pedialyte, and more with success (although dosage amounts come down to some guess work). Water should be given free choice 24/7 to your young chicks.

Scratch A Little Deeper: Preparing for, raising, & releasing chicks

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Not really. The biggest problem I see is that sometimes a chicken that has unique markings (like a Barred Rock) might get pecked out of curiosity by other chickens that don’t have similar markings. Another thing to remember if you mix layers is that some breeds will lay many more eggs than others and therefore might require more calcium in their diet than others. To fix this, make crushed oyster shell available to the whole flock free choice in a separate feed container. The hens who need calcium will eat more voluntarily.

Also, if your flock free ranges together you will end up with “mutt” chickens. You bought four different breeds but your rooster is a Barred Rock (just for example). This means that all your hens are getting bred to a Barred Rock and so your chicks will be mixed with whatever the hen is with a Barred Rock. So you won’t have purebred chicks. That’s fine, there is nothing wrong or unhealthy about that. They will display some traits from both parents.

If you want purebred offspring, you need to buy a “heritage” breed that breeds “true.” In other words, the hen and rooster of the breed will produce offspring that is the same breed as the parents. If you buy Black Sex Links, for example, they won’t breed true because Black Sex Links are a hybrid, meaning they have already been mixed. Our Black Sex Links are a mix between a Rhode Island Red and a Barred Rock.

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A chicken’s body senses the changing weather and starts growing extra downy feathers underneath it’s hard feathers. These downy feathers keep your chickens warm in the coldest of weather. In this way the cold nights of autumn helps trigger your chickens body into growing more down for the winter. If you add supplemental heat to your coop when it starts getting cold your chickens won’t start growing their winter “coat.” This means that they won’t prepare for winter. This isn’t a big problem if you keep the coop heated all winter. However, if your electric goes out for any reason you’ll have a coop full of stiff chickens in a matter of hours.

Another reason you shouldn’t heat your coop is humidity. If your coop is cold and dry, your chickens are much less likely to suffer from frostbite – even in subzero temperatures. If your coop is cold AND humid, your chickens will get frost bitten much quicker. If you heat your coop with, say, a propane wall heater, it will make the coop incredibly humid. Plus, all the dander and dust will likely cause a fire. You could put a radiator in your coop but this will also cause a spike in humidity. In fact, even just the  presence of chickens in your coop will cause higher humidity. This is why it’s important to have a well ventilated coop. Not a drafty coop, mind you, but well ventilated. A drafty coop is a coop that has wind blowing through the cracks. You don’t want that because it will chill your chickens. What you do want is a vent that is placed high in the coop such as in the eaves or in the peak. Since hot air rises, and can hold more moisture than cold air, the hot air will rise and flow out off the vents pulling humidity with it. This keeps the humidity down in the coop and keeps drafts off of your flock. This helps prevent frostbite, allows your chickens to acclimate to the cold, and is a much better plan than adding a heat source to your coop.

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It typically takes a hen at least 25 hours to make an egg. So no, they do not. The world record for egg laying belongs to a Black Australorp which laid 364 eggs in 365 days. Typically hens stop laying eggs, or decrease egg production, over winter months. You can maximize egg production by using artificial lighting in your coop. You can trick your hens into thinking the sun is still rising earlier and setting later than it actually is.

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Yes. All female chickens lay eggs. They won’t be fertile without a rooster mating your hen, however. This means if you want your hens to hatch baby chicks, you need a rooster! If you just want eggs you don’t need a rooster because hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster in your flock. Some chickens lay more eggs than others. Check out our layer chickens for sale…

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Can I feed my chicks medicated starter feed if I got them vaccinated? Good question! In our helpful pamphlet that we usually send people before they receive their baby chicks, we state that if you got your chicks vaccinated you shouldn’t give them medicated chick starter since this will counteract the vaccines. This is true only if you give them vaccinations for coccidiosis since the medicated feed has Amprollium in it which is a treatment for coccidiosis. If you vaccinate them for cocci and then feed them medications for cocci, the two treatments will counteract each other and render each other useless. We don’t offer coccidiosis vaccines for chicks we sell since it is too hard on young baby chicks, especially since they experience some level of stress during shipping. The only vaccinations we offer are for Mareks disease. The Mareks vaccinations will be effective regardless of the type of chick starter you use – medicated or non-medicated – since medicated feed does not contain medication to treat Mareks.

So, in summary, if you only got your chicks vaccinated for Mareks, you can still feed them medicated feed with no issues at all. If you got them vaccinated for coccidiosis, do not feed them medicated feed.

If you have baby day old ducks, however, DO NOT feed them medicated feed. Ducks eat more per ounce of body weight than chicks do and so ducklings will overdose themselves with the medication in the feed. It is important that you do not feed medicated feed to ducklings.

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Duck Care

Ducks don’t have saliva glands so it’s important to have water close to their feed. Ducks tend to be sloppy eaters but fun to watch! Click here to find out what to feed ducks (from ducklings to adults).

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  • Males are slightly larger with heavier necks and heads. They also have a curly tail feather called a “drake feather.” They have a deep raspy voice.
  • Females are typically smaller and have your traditional duck “quack” that everyone is familiar with.

 

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Guinea Fowl Care

Read what to feed guinea fowl from babies to adults by clicking here.

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Good question! The short answer is: none. The long answer: Guinea fowl are popular in France as a source of meat. So the French have done to the guinea what the Americans have done with the chicken: Refine and produce bloodlines of large guinea fowl specifically for meat production. Jumbo guineas and French guineas are, for all purposes, the same thing. The bloodlines may be different but weights and characteristics are nearly identical. In fact, the terms “French” and “Jumbo” are used interchangeably. There is an understandable tendency to equate the French Guinea with the Jumbo Cornish Cross – which is a fast growing, hybrid meat chicken with a reputation for being a freak of nature. After all, both breeds were bred to dominate their market with a faster growing bird. But the difference is the the French Guinea has retained it’s natural foraging instincts a

nd ability to reproduce. It’s just a bigger strain of guinea fowl.

There are many myths surrounding French Guineas, one of which is that they cannot reproduce naturally. This IS NOT true.

If kept in captivity, French Guineas may not reproduce well but if allowed to free range, French Guineas can thrive and reproduce naturally just as any other strain of guinea fowl.

There is another myth that French Guineas cannot fly because of their weight. Again, WRONG.

Below I have a video that a customer (thanks Robert for your great feedback) posted on our Facebook page of a flock of French Guineas roosting rather high in a tree. These are the exact same breed you will get if you purchase day old French guinea fowl keets from us.

In fact, French Guineas prefer the highest roosts they can find. You’ll find them on top of your barn or high in trees. They can begin flying as soon as 3 weeks of age! The myth that French Guineas cannot fly may come from the fact that many heavy ducks bred for meat cannot fly because of their weight. People assume since the French Guinea has been bred to produce meat it’s some sort of genetically modified freak that can’t function normally. However, this is faulty logic and isn’t true. French Guineas can absolutely fly. They are fantastic foragers and will reproduce if allowed to free range. They will produce “true” offspring.

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Click here to read how to prepare for, raise, and release guinea fowl.

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I’ve had several customers ask me if guinea fowl actually digest ticks. They claim that they heard from their neighbors nephews cousin’s mother (which is where all reliable information comes from) that guinea fowl eat ticks but that the ticks pass right through the digestive system of the guineas since the tick’s hard shell prevents it from being digested.

This is untrue. Here’s why:

  1. Many customers report buying French Guineas and soon thereafter noticing a huge decrease in tick sightings. If the ticks pass right through the digestive system without being harmed, why would there be a decrease in the tick population? Also, I’ve had several customers who were looking for French Guineas because they had a flock, got rid of them, and then got overwhelmed with ticks. This leads me to assume that the guineas had a direct impact on the tick population.
  2. Guinea fowl are excellent foragers that eat bugs and insects. So much so that during the summer you barely have to feed them (some folks feed them a little in the evening to lure them back into coops). Many insects have hard shells – called exoskeletons – on them (such as grasshoppers and crickets) and if guineas couldn’t digest such insects, you would have to supplement their diets much more heavily since they wouldn’t get any nutritious benefit from eating insects.
  3. Humans have teeth but birds don’t. A bird will either tear food apart in large chunks or swallow it whole. Then the food goes to the crop where it is stored for up to 12 hours. The food eventually gets to the gizzard. The gizzard is a muscular pouch where food gets ground up by small pebbles and grit that the guinea picked up while pecking food off of the ground. If the insect is still intact at this point it won’t be able to hold up to the muscular grinding actions of the gizzard and will be ground into a digestible paste. Goodbye ticks!

In summary, guinea fowl are great natural pest control. They devastate tick populations and do pretty well with gardens. We do have baby guinea fowl for sale on our website here. I hope you take a few minutes to check them out! We can ship them to your local post office and you’ll have a crew of tick control experts roaming your property on patrol 24/7 within a few months.

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Stupid Questions

Yes, obviously.

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No, they’ll probably lay less.

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