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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Over the past couple of months I have visited 4 different local feed stores, and called several more. All of them have the same story - "They can not get chicks."

So I decided to call Murray McMurray Hatchery to get first hand information. Why Murray McMurray Hatchery? Because they are the nearest commercial hatchery. The nice lady who answered the phone says they are shipping chicks out like they always do, but demand is outstripping supply. I asked about your typical dual purpose heritage breeds:

  • Black Australorp
  • Barred Rock
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Wyandotte
  • Buff Orpington
  • Production Reds... etc.

She told me just about all of their breeds were sold out until July. Popular breeds such as the Barred Rock were sold out until December 2020. I had to take a step back and think about the situation. The nice lady and I spoke for a few minutes, in which I explained I had wanted some earlier than July.

After hanging up I made a few phone calls and found a local guy who has an incubator. He had around 27 chicks that were 2 months old. I bought all 27 chicks. They had not been sexed, so some of them may end up in the freezer.

The guy said he was putting eggs in the incubator and should have more chicks for sale in around 21 days.

The chicks I bought were a mix of heritage breeds that I had been looking for. The rooster was an Australorp, and the hens were a mix of Barred Rock, Buff Orpington, Production Red or Sex link... and a few others.

I typically buy around a dozen to 18 chicks ever spring. Last tear (2019) I was working away from home all spring, so I have not had any new chicks in two years. Hopefully this will be my flock back up to around where I want it to be.

The chicken house is 16 feet X 16 feet, and the chicken yard is around 180 feet by 200 feet. The yard is a little wider and longer on one end than the other. When the chicken house and yard were built I had originally designed it to hold around 40 - 50 chickens. The current additions bring me up to around 36 or 37 chickens, and two guineas.

Depending on how this Coronavirus situation plays out I may add another dozen chickens. This gives me around 3 weeks to figure out if I want more chickens, or this is enough.

One deciding factor is how many of the new chickens are roosters. I would keep a couple of the large roosters, then butcher the rest. Even if half of the new chicks are roosters, that gives me around 2 dozen laying hens.

Back to the original topic, this whole Coronavirus plague has shown how easily demand can outstrip supply. Shelves have been restocked, but now we are looking at meat shortages.

Time will tell how this plays out, but my family and I are prepping the best we can.

~~ EDIT ~~

I feel I am behind the curve because last year I did not get any new chickens.
 

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Can`t you folks that raise chickens just have a rooster around and hatch your own chicks? Or is this more of a pain than its worth? :)
 

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Can`t you folks that raise chickens just have a rooster around and hatch your own chicks? Or is this more of a pain than its worth? :)
Many breeds have been selectively bred so that they won't go broody and sit on eggs.

This keeps egg production up, at the cost of sustainability.
(Something the people selling you chickens see as a good thing.)
 

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Apocaloptimist
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I just picked up 8 chicks today from Tractor Supply. Something has been eating my chickens. 3 gone this week. I put a game cam in the coop and also put some heavy duty wire cloth around the eaves of the coop. That is the only way something can get inside.

Kev- Are sure Ideal Poultry in Bryan, TX isn't your closest hatchery? They usually have lots of chicks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Can`t you folks that raise chickens just have a rooster around and hatch your own chicks? Or is this more of a pain than its worth? :)
That is an excellent question, and the answer is yes and no.

Some breeds such as the Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red have been selectively bred over the past 100+ years they no longer go broody - which means sit on eggs to hatch them out. Will those breeds go broody, yes, but it is rare. Sure as I say that someone will say, "Every Barred Rock I ever had went broody."

Other breeds such as the Australorp and Buff Orpington still go broody and will hatch out chicks. Couple of my current laying hens were hatched by a Buff Orpington, she was an excellent mother.

Then there are incubators. If you have a rooster just collect the eggs and put them in an incubator, which is what the guy I got my chicks from does.
 

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We hatched eggs (partly so our granddaughter could experience it, partly because we wanted to) our incubator will hold 41 eggs (with the auto turner, more without it- manual turning) our plan was to kill the young cockerels as fryers, this hit and they're out there getting bigger and bigger (more meat) . I've been debating on maybe hatching some more maybe every other month for "insurance" as meat is pretty good from home grown cockerels IMO.

Kev if you were closer I'd give you eggs or hatch chicks for you, but fertile eggs don't really ship well IME
 

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I've had several hens go broody, and currently have 2 sitting on eggs. I also have a couple of incubators with the egg turners going - mainly with turkey eggs, since those girls aren't going broody at all, but with a few chicken eggs, as well. So far have two chicks in the brooder, with several more eggs coming along.
 

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That is an excellent question, and the answer is yes and no.

Some breeds such as the Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red have been selectively bred over the past 100+ years they no longer go broody - which means sit on eggs to hatch them out. Will those breeds go broody, yes, but it is rare. Sure as I say that someone will say, "Every Barred Rock I ever had went broody."

Other breeds such as the Australorp and Buff Orpington still go broody and will hatch out chicks. Couple of my current laying hens were hatched by a Buff Orpington, she was an excellent mother.

Then there are incubators. If you have a rooster just collect the eggs and put them in an incubator, which is what the guy I got my chicks from does.
Do you put them in every day? As in a lot of incubators
 

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We put all the eggs into the incubator at the same time so they hatch nearly the same time (if they're going to hatch) all our eggs are fertile so most hatch (we have plenty of roosters and cockerels(young roosters)
 

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Wile E Coyote, Genius.
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We hatched eggs (partly so our granddaughter could experience it, partly because we wanted to) our incubator will hold 41 eggs (with the auto turner, more without it- manual turning) our plan was to kill the young cockerels as fryers, this hit and they're out there getting bigger and bigger (more meat) . I've been debating on maybe hatching some more maybe every other month for "insurance" as meat is pretty good from home grown cockerels IMO.

Kev if you were closer I'd give you eggs or hatch chicks for you, but fertile eggs don't really ship well IME
When I bought ducks from McMurray hatchery, they mailed the newly hatched ducklings to be overnight mail in a box. You had to order at least a dozen I think and the idea was that was enough that they would keep each other warm. They self sustained food and water wise in the mail, supposedly because they still were using the yolk sac to some extent.
 

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CAW!

That is an excellent question, and the answer is yes and no.

Some breeds such as the Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red have been selectively bred over the past 100+ years they no longer go broody - which means sit on eggs to hatch them out. Will those breeds go broody, yes, but it is rare. Sure as I say that someone will say, "Every Barred Rock I ever had went broody."

Other breeds such as the Australorp and Buff Orpington still go broody and will hatch out chicks. Couple of my current laying hens were hatched by a Buff Orpington, she was an excellent mother.

Then there are incubators. If you have a rooster just collect the eggs and put them in an incubator, which is what the guy I got my chicks from does.
Well.................now that you mentioned it..................:D:

We have a few silkies just for their momma duties.......


as always YMMV
 

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Try watching for their hatch day specials.

You probably won't see as many or as good of prices as in previous years (like .70 each for silkies! $1.25 for pullets!). But I'm sure there will be deals to be had. Or at least chicks!

Hatcheries have to count their chickens before they hatch. And it's hard to be 100% accurate. So they only have a certain % of the hatch available to allow for bad eggs.

Once they hatch, they may have had a better hatch rate than planned and they have plenty of extras. Since baby chicks can only be shipped within 24 hours of hatching, they need to be sold ASAP.

Ideal was one of my favorites for this. Often it would just be a quick note on their Facebook page saying they've got extras of this and that, call in only, must ship out today. And you could get them dirt cheap.
 

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When I bought ducks from McMurray hatchery, they mailed the newly hatched ducklings to be overnight mail in a box. You had to order at least a dozen I think and the idea was that was enough that they would keep each other warm. They self sustained food and water wise in the mail, supposedly because they still were using the yolk sac to some extent.
The yolk sac will provide enough nutrients and water for about 3 days.
 

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I have pure Australorps and there will always be one or two that want to go broody. I built my own incubator 3-4 years ago. I've already hatched one batch this year and have another in there now. I'm going to try and sell this batch. If not, I'll just stick them out with the others. You can never have too many chickens!
 

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I'm hatching my own, both chickens and turkeys. No, they are NOT "purebreds", but they ARE a cross of a couple of heritage breeds, and I'm hoping to "size up" from a couple of my purebred hens that are smaller by crossing them with a larger crossbreed rooster. The turkey poults are going to be either straight Bourbon Red, straight Royal Palm, or a cross between them (unless they from my one hen who was SUPPOSED to be a Royal Palm, but looks more like a Blue Slate to me.)
 

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We got some chicks at the Rural King last week. 5 hens various breeds, and 5 cornish cross. The meat chicks eat and eat and are almost twice as big as the hens already!! We need to put them in different boxes soon but tonight they are going to be in the house because even with a heat lamp it won't be warm enough for them where they're at.
We also ordered 25 more meat birds but they are not supposed to get here until end of May

I also actually got 2 lamps I ordered online, only to figure out I only ordered the bulbs, and not the holders...stupid
 
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