Where To Buy Baby Chicks

Where To Buy Baby Chicks

Not sure where to buy baby chicks? In this article, you’ll discover the top (and safest) places to buy chickens!

 

You don’t need acres of land to raise chickens. In fact, there are many suburban and urban farmers who tend to their flocks in backyards or shared coops. Not only do these chickens produce fresh eggs, but they also become members of your family.

 

 

This is certainly true when you start out with baby chicks. Tending to these soft and cuddly birds allows you to experience a unique nurturing experience. Today, I’m going to discuss the first stage of this process: where to buy baby chicks:

 

  1. Hatcheries
  2. Breeders
  3. Farm stores
  4. Friends/Family

 

Hatcheries

The first place to look for baby chicks is a hatchery. There are several major hatcheries in the U.S. that you can check out. Most of them guarantee their shipments to ensure the chicks you ordered arrive healthy. If not, most have flexible cancellation and reimbursement policies.

 

I personally use Cackle Hatchery, based here in Missouri. You can read my review of Cackle here.

 

The main thing to look for when you select a hatchery are the reviews. Here, you can determine a few things from buyer comments:

  • Did the chicks arrive on time and healthy?
  • Did the chicks experience stress and illness while in the mail for a long period of time?
  • Do they ship in a 24 to 48-hour period even on weekends and holidays?

 

These factors effect you and the chicks. For example, if a hatchery ships them on a Friday before a federal holiday, then the chicks can remain in the post office over a long weekend without proper circulation, food, or water. In the end, the chicks you receive on Tuesday may be sick or dead, and they don’t deserve that treatment.

 

I’ve had good and not-so-good experiences when ordering baby chicks from a hatchery, and so have many reviewers. While there are benefits to ordering from this type of business because of the variety, there are also drawbacks. 

 

For instance, unless you speak to the Postmaster ahead of time, you don’t know if post office employees know how to handle baby chick containers. You also don’t know if the package is placed in a temperature-controlled area or a space that’s overly hot or cold.

 

This is not to say the chicks aren’t taken care of at the hatchery. In fact, many of these locations come highly recommended from people who purchase them directly. So, in addition to reading reviews, directly contact the hatchery to get your questions answered.

 

Breeders

The next place to look for baby chicks is a local breeder. While you may have a harder time to find these people in a city like Indianapolis or New York, they are around. 

 

Though it seems we live in a nation-wide megalopolis, there are plenty of breeders and other agricultural business not far outside the limits of most cities. 

 

Baby chicks provided by breeders aren’t necessarily treated better than those at a hatchery. However, since they have a local customer base, there’s a better chance to determine if the chicks they sold went to good homes. 

 

It’s always nice to hear how a set of babies went to a family farm instead of the corporate entity. 

 

Another advantage of breeders is they tend not to ship their chicks via mail. The simple reason is they don’t want them to encounter a stressful experience. They also avoid shipping because they offer heritage or designer breeds that may be more fragile.

 

For instance, there are breeders in the market who raise Lavender Orpingtons. In another example, a breeder might bring up chicks that produce blue eggs. Or, they might have developed their own strain that are too delicate to deliver via mail or UPS.

 

It may sound too specialized for you. However, when you order baby chicks from these breeders you get additional help to understand how best to raise them. I may not have learned how well Blue Copper Marans do on 22% of game feed if I had to order the chicks from a hatchery.

 

The downside to purchasing chicks from a breeder is their cancellation and refund policies aren’t as flexible as hatcheries. Since they don’t handle orders at an industrial level, they tend not to have refund policies. In other words, they may not reimburse you if your chicks die within a week after pickup.

 

Local farm store

A third location to purchase baby chicks is a local farm store. These outlets tend to carry them from March to June. In some cases, they may sell them until they run out, regardless if it’s 90 days or not. 

 

There are several advantages to picking up chicks at a farm store. First, they tend to be reasonably priced – around $5 per chick. Sometimes, you can purchase a chick for $1. Second, since the store is nearby, you can quickly get the chicks to food and a heat source.

 

The main disadvantage is some locations may treat their chicks poorly. I encountered this when I was recently at one farm store. It seemed like the chicks weren’t going to make it. 

 

In these situations, you probably can’t rely on the staff to provide feed and warmth directions. Nevertheless, if the location is incredibly close to your home, then you might not need advice to set things up.

 

Another disadvantage is you don’t get the breadth of chick variety. You may be able to purchase a wide swath of one breed but nothing in the designer category.

 

Friends

The last place to get baby chicks is from a friend or someone nearby. They may simply want to find the chicks a good home. Sometimes you will pay for them, and sometimes you won’t. 

 

The advantage here is you know where the babies came from and if their parents were well cared for. The details you get depend on how much you ask. 

 

They may not know the exact lineage, but they can certainly provide some information on the breed. For instance, they can tell you if it’s a mixture of two different chicken breeds.

 

Purchasing from friends can be fun, because you don’t know the type of baby chicks you will get. While most of them will be standard, you could have a show bird in the mix. 

 

Plus, you know they’ll be healthy, so there’s little need to worry about lack of food or warmth. You simply need to carry on where they left off, especially if they give you additional advice or instructions.

 

So, do you still wonder where to buy baby chicks? I sure hope not!

 

Cackle Hatchery Review & Buyer’s Guide

Cackle Hatchery Review & Buyer’s Guide

On one cold, January morning, I received my catalog from Cackle Hatchery, and something stirred in me…..it was time to order baby chicks!

 

A lot of people who read this blog are just getting into backyard chickens, and aren’t really sure how or where to buy their fluffy butts. OR sometimes readers want a specific breed (which was my situation) and the only place to purchase those chicks are from a hatchery.

 

As a blog owner, my goal is to inform you, and help you raise your flock so they’re healthy. And that starts with getting quality chickens from a reliable source!

 

So, this article will tell you my experience purchasing chicks from Cackle Hatchery, and what you should know as a consumer so you get healthy chicks that’ll grow into happy layers.

 

After getting their latest catalog and happily thumbing through it, I decided it was time to bulk up my bantam stock here on the farm, as well as my colored egg layers.

 

I’ve purchased from Cackle Hatchery in the past (probably 2 years ago, when I got my Brahma hens and Jersey Giants – they’re still alive and healthy), and had a good experience. This supplier is also 4 hours from my farm, so the babies (in theory) wouldn’t have to go far to reach my home.

 

Read on, and discover my experience with Cackle Hatchery!

 

My Buying Experience

First, understand that this is just MY experience. Your mileage may vary, and this certainly isn’t the first (or last) time I’ve ordered from Cackle.

 

The Cackle Hatchery website is super easy to navigate. I had a hard time tearing myself away from the ducklings and turkey poults, but I headed over to the egg layer section of their website.

 

I knew the breeds I wanted: Speckled Sussex hens (I owned some before, and SUPER intelligent chickens), Silkies, Mille Fleur d’Uccle, Easter Egger bantams, Porcelain d’Uccles, and Black Copper Marans hens (I wanted some chocolate egg layers).

 

For this review, I purchased:

  • 10 Silkie Bantams (non-sexed, hatchery choice)
  • 5 Speckled Sussex Females
  • 5 Black Copper Marans Females
  • 5 Mille Fleur d’Uccles (non-sexed)
  • 5 Porcelain d’Uccles (non-sexed)
  • 5 Easter Egger Bantams (non-sexed)

 

I wanted some rare breeds from Cackle Hatchery, which is why I chose the Mille Fleur d’Uccles and Porcelain d’Uccles.

 

Remember that most suppliers, Cackle Hatchery included, don’t offer the option to purchase either male or female bantams. It’s harder to sex these chickens because they’re smaller, and the room for error is much larger. (You can learn how to sex chicks here).

 

So, I knew purchasing the Silkies, Mille Fleur d’Uccles, and Porcelain d’Uccles is a crap shoot. I’m fine with that. If you can’t have roosters in your area, though, it’s something to consider.

 

Placing my order was easy, and I feel the prices are fair (especially shipping. It only cost me about $25 for expedited shipping, although your mileage may vary).

 

All in all, my order cost $200, which included the shipping. I was happy with this cost.

 

Choosing a Shipping Date

Cackle Hatchery doesn’t have a system per se that allows you to choose a shipping date. Other hatcheries I’ve ordered from provide a list of dates, and you click a radio button to choose a specific date.

 

Cackle requests you put your desired dates in a text box, which was a little confusing at first. So, I put something to the effect of:

 

“Please ship the chicks during the end of May/beginning of July.”

 

Why this time frame? Because it’s warm enough so I won’t need a heat lamp in my cabin (where baby poultry live until they can go into a coop. You can find good chicken coop plans here), and not SO hot that the trip here will be miserable.

 

The folks at Cackle Hatchery ended up choosing the actual ship date: May 29, 2019.

 

In theory, I was fine with that. In practice, I wasn’t super thrilled: I didn’t realize the chicks would be shipped on a Wednesday for a Friday delivery because of Memorial Day (May 27, 2019).

 

Why is this a problem? Well, it only takes one dodo at the Post Office to mess up, and my fluffy butts spend the weekend in a cold building with no food, courtesy of the United States Postal Service.

 

We live in a remote area where mail CAN take an extra day to get to us. So, even though the Post Office guarantees a certain delivery date, sometimes, we get our mail a day later.

 

So, I would have preferred the babies to ship from Cackle Hatchery on a Monday or Tuesday. (In hindsight, I could have put that on my shipping directions, but it didn’t occur to me at the time – so, it’s something you should take into consideration. I’ll be doing it next time).

 

You might have a stronger stomach for these things, but I don’t! I worry about the chicks every step of the way.

 

Receiving My Order From Cackle Hatchery

As the shipping date approached, I notified my mail carrier that I’d be getting baby chicks, and asked her to tell me if they would spend an extra day at the post office before delivery (so I could pick them up early).

 

We know the post office staff here on a personal level, and they’re just as concerned for the safety of the animals.

 

When my bantams and full sized chickens shipped, I received an email notification from Cackle Hatchery AND the Post Office (I signed up for text alerts so I could monitor their journey).

 

It took 2 days for the package to get to my area, and on May 31, the chicks arrived! (By the way, US Post Office, that was the dumbest route EVER: Lebanon, MO → Kansas City, MO → St. Louis, MO → Cape Girardeau, MO → My local area).

 

My mail carrier texted me, and we agreed I would pick the package up at my local post office (rather than being delivered to the house) so I could get them into their brooder ASAP.

 

I wanted the chicks as fast as possible, and my mail carrier didn’t want to listen to chirping all day. I get it.

 

The box had a lot of air holes, was very securely taped, and had stickers informing the postal workers that there were live animals inside the box (in case the loud chirping wasn’t obvious). I was pleased to see a sticker that directed mail handlers to keep the chicks out of extreme cold and heat.

 

So, it’s obvious Cackle Hatchery does its best to ensure a safe arrival.

 

How Did The Chicks Fair On Their Journey From Cackle Hatchery?

I resisted the urge to peek into the box until the chickens were home. There was LOTS of loud chirping, which is a good sign.

 

Angry chicks = healthy chicks! What you DON’T want to hear is silence.

 

I’d already prepared the brooders, feeders, and waterers, so after I opened the box, did a head count, and checked for any casualties, everyone was ready to get into their new homes!

 

All the little ones arrived safely – there were no DOA. I’d call that a successful ship!

 

They were split into 2 different areas of the box, and they were wiggling, and ready to get out.

 

I was really pleased with my purchase!

 

Cackle Hatchery included 4 extra chicks to account for casualties, including 1 extra Speckled Sussex, and 3 others I can’t yet identify (a lot of chicken breeds look similar when young. However, they’re definitely bantam breeds).

 

We obviously had chick starter ready, and added apple cider vinegar to their waterers to help them establish good gut flora. (You can learn about the best chicken waterers here.)

 

But Are They Healthy?

The Black Copper Marans, Silkies, and Speckled Sussex in particular seemed (and still seem) very healthy. A good sign is when the chicks immediately begin seeking food and water, and they were VERY ready to feast!

 

The Mille Fleur d’Uccles and particularly the Porcelain d’Uccles seemed stressed and very confused, which isn’t a good sign.

 

As I opened the box, I noted that the Porcelain d’Uccles already were hunched, chirping loudly, and closing their eyes.

 

They were quickly put into their brooders and introduced to food and water, and given space and time to settle (sometimes, it’s just the shipping process that can cause stress, and when they realize they’re safe, they snap out of it).

 

As of writing this review, we lost 1 Mille Fleur d’Uccle and 3 of the Porcelain d’Uccles which I’m REALLY not pleased with (so, there’s only 2 Porcelain d’Uccles remaining from my original order) within 48 hours of receiving our order from Cackle Hatchery.

 

(Note: They do ask you to call in case of casualties within a 48 hour time frame so they can help you out. Because our chicks arrived on a Friday, I had to wait until Monday to call).

 

However, we haven’t lost any of the other Mille Fleurs, and they seem very eager to eat, interact with their clutch mates, and enjoy life.

 

It’s normal to lose some chicks, but the Porcelain d’Uccles seemed to struggle from the moment I opened the box from Cackle Hatchery (I inspect them before putting them into their brooder to check for heat stress, etc).

 

At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was stress or a health issue, but since the other chicks are doing well, I can’t really say why the Porcelain d’Uccles didn’t make it.

 

However, losing 4 out of about 40 chicks is pretty much to be expected, and I’m happy with the health of the remaining flock.

 

The box arrived with a free coop sign, a very useful pamphlet about how to care for my new pets, some stickers (which my kids loved), and a safety flier about avoiding salmonella, directions for washing hands after handling poultry, etc.

 

Would I Buy From Cackle Hatchery Again?

Would I order from Cackle Hatchery again? YES.

 

I think they’re a good quality supplier, and the Porcelain d’Uccles notwithstanding, the hatch I got arrived alive, and with most of the chicks in good health.

 

I got the breeds I ordered, and extras in case some chicks didn’t make it.

 

Their ordering process was straight forward, the poultry was reasonably priced, and the shipping process as simple and fast as possible.

 

If you’re a reader who wants to order from a hatchery, I’d recommend this one.

 

However, I think next year, I’ll drive out to Cackle Hatchery to pick up my order!

Barred Rock Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

Barred Rock Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

When we first started keeping hens, we first started with Barred Rock chickens. With their beautiful black and white feathers, what wasn’t there to love about this striking breed?

 

Barred Rock chickens are one of the most well known breeds out there – and subsequently, one of the most popular.

 

Once upon a time, our ancestors raised them as a dual purpose bird with a combination of some of the best farm chicken qualities: docility, hardiness, and broodiness.

 

These days, this breed is best known for its egg laying ability and gorgeous plumage.

 

In this article, you’ll discover facts about these cluckers, recommendations for reliable breeders and hatcheries, whether Barred Rock chickens make great pets, and more!

 

barred rock chicken hen with stripes

 

5 Amazing Barred Rock Chicken Facts

  • One of the oldest breeds in America
  • First exhibited as a breed in 1869
  • “Barred” refers to their feather coloring
  • They lay brownish pink eggs.
  • The barred color pattern is a dominant sex-linked gene

 

Where to Buy Barred Rock Chickens

Most major hatcheries and farm stores carry these chickens – you might also see them called “Plymouth Rock” chickens – this is because Barred Rocks are actually a color variation of Plymouth Rocks.

 

You can usually find Barred Rocks for under $3 (less, if you find them at the farm store and they’re more than a week old. That’s how I got mine for $0.99. Best investment ever.)

 

All the hatcheries on this list are good places to buy this breed – it’s probably best to choose a hatchery close to you, so your new chicks don’t have to travel too far before landing on your doorstep.

 

Always look for healthy, active chicks! If the photos of the babies don’t look great, or they look unhappy or sick, then don’t purchase them.

 

You’ll want to look for parent stock that are full bodied and sport fluffy, healthy looking feathers. If you’re looking for pet type chickens, then make sure the parents are friendly, too!

 

Recommended Hatcheries

The top hatcheries to purchase Barred Rock chickens are:

  1. My Pet Chicken
  2. Meyer Hatchery
  3. Cackle Hatchery
  4. Murray McMurray
  5. Stromberg Chickens

 

My Pet Chicken

If you live in the Northeast or Mid Atlantic, then this hatchery is a great option (note they do ship nationwide). They’re located in Connecticut.

 

My Pet Chicken sells day old chicks and 6 week olds that you can have shipped right to your door. The Barred Rock chickens on their site have gotten many 5 star reviews, with some owners saying their Barred Rock hens were the first to lay eggs.

 

They also look very full bodied with soft feathers, which is great. I imagine this is what the Barred Rocks our ancestors raised looked like (rather than some of the scraggly breeds you see today that are bred for egg production only, rather than an overall healthy bird).

 

Meyer Hatchery

There’s 37 (nearly) 5 reviews for the Barred Rock chicks on this website – so it looks like past customers love their chicks! Meyer is located in Ohio, so if you live in the Mid-Atlantic. Northern Midwest, or Kentucky area, this is a good hatchery to order from since your chicks won’t travel too far.

 

Owners say their babies arrived healthy and have now grown into active layers. The prices at this hatchery are competitive.

 

Cackle Hatchery

Cackle is located in Lebanon, Missouri, so it’s a good hatchery to buy chicks from if your farm is in the Midwest, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, the Dakotas, etc. I personally usually order from this hatchery (they’re about 4 hours from my farm). Every time I’ve ordered from them, the chicks arrived ASAP and in good shape.

 

Their prices for Barred Rock chicks are reasonable, and they have good customer service. You can read our review of Cackle Hatchery here.

 

Murray McMurray

Murray McMurray has been around for a while, and they’re located in Iowa. If you live in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, etc, then this is a good hatchery to order from. I’ve ordered chicks through them once, and it was a good experience. Their Barred Rocks have many 5 star reviews. Their prices are a bit more expensive than the other hatcheries on this list.

 

Stromberg Chickens

Stromberg is located in Minnesota, so it’s a good option for our Northern friends (sorry, Canada, I don’t know if they ship to you). Their prices are a little more expensive than other options on this list. On their site, there’s an option to have your chickens vaccinated for Marek’s disease.

 

There’s not a whole ton of information and photos on their site of the chickens (no photos of the chicks themselves), but this hatchery has a good reputation.

 

Other Ways To Purchase Barred Rock Chickens

Join Facebook groups and ask for breeder recommendations. Here’s a popular group dedicated to this breed.

 

Feeding Barred Rock Chickens

Chicks

As baby chicks, you’ll want to provide your flock with an 18% protein chick starter like this one. The protein is necessary to help them grow correctly. Without it, they might not be healthy adults.

 

You can also feed them treats such as dried shrimp, black soldier fly larvae, or mealworms.

 

Layers

Once your chickens start producing eggs, you’ll want to give them a layer feed and a calcium supplement like oyster shells. Layers need it so they can provide you with yummy eggs. The best diet for any hen starts with a 16% protein layer feed and fresh, clean water every day.

 

Roosters can also eat layer feed, although they will probably leave the oyster shells alone.

 

Most commercial feeds have all the nutrients your flock will need. Consider using a no-waste feeder like these to reduce the amount of spilled grain, to make it easier on your wallet, and to keep rodents away from your hens.

 

Barred Rocks are a large chicken breed, but have a very good feed to egg conversion ratio – so they don’t need a TON of feed.

 

You’ll want the bags you purchase to last as long as possible, rather than feeding every rat within a 10 mile radius. So, it’s best to not keep feed out 24 hours a day, lest it attract predators.

 

It’s best to make their feed inaccessible at night when they’re not going to eat it anyway.

 

You can also feed your hens lots of treats like mealworms. You can discover what chickens eat here, and what they can eat from your garden here.

 

For nicely colored yolks, you can add herbs high in beta carotenes, such as calendula.

 

Always give 24 hour access to water. Using an automatic waterer makes this easy. You can find recommended waterers here.

 

You can also learn how to build your own DIY gravity waterer here. 

 

Keeping Barred Rock Chickens as Pets

Are Barred Rock Chickens Friendly?

Yes, Barred Rock chickens are generally friendly, which makes them ideal for families as pets. The roosters especially are calm with both people and other animals. If you want to raise Barred Rocks as pets, it’s best to feed them lots of treats, and handle them daily.

 

You might notice that your hens won’t be as friendly if they’ve “gone broody’ and want to hatch eggs. This is normal, and she will return to being friendly if you help her stop her broodiness or after she’s successfully hatched chicks.

 

You can learn more about raising people friendly chickens here.

 

Are Barred Rock Chickens Aggressive?

Generally, no they aren’t. Barred Rock chickens are friendly and docile birds towards humans and other animals. However, if your chickens don’t have enough space (10 square feet per hen) or you have too many roosters, they might become aggressive towards each other. It’s always best to have 1 rooster for every 10 hens, and to make sure everyone has enough space and food to eat.barred rock chicken rooster

 

barred rock chicken rooster

 

Are Barred Rocks Noisy?

No, the roosters might crow when they see a predator, but are not noisier than other chicken breeds. The hens are very quiet.

 

Barred Rock Egg Laying Ability

Are Barred Rock Hens Good Egg Layers?

Yes! Barred Rock hens lay about 280 eggs per year. They’re actually considered one of the champion egg laying chicken breeds!

 

How Long Do Barred Rock Hens Lay Eggs?

Like most hens, Barred Rock chickens will lay the most eggs during 9 months of age until they’re about 3 years old. Most chickens will slow down or stop laying after they turn 3. There will be exceptions; some readers have emailed me with stories about their 7 year old hen who still puts out eggs 3 times a week. However, most chickens won’t lay eggs consistently when they’re that old.

 

You should decide what you plan to do with your hens when they stop laying. We personally keep ours and let them live out their lives naturally since they’re pets.

 

To ensure your hens are in peak condition for egg laying, it’s best to feed them a layer feed with 16% protein and supplement with oyster shells for extra calcium. Research shows that this diet helps them from becoming nutrient deficient (which can cause hens to stop laying eggs).

 

What Color Eggs Do Barred Rocks Lay?

Barred Rock chickens lay brown eggs.

 

How Many Eggs Per Year Do Barred Rocks Lay?

About 280 eggs per year, although the actual amount will vary from bird to bird. To ensure your chickens produce lots of eggs, you should feed them a healthy diet, including a 16% protein layer feed.

 

Do Barred Plymouth Rocks Go Broody?

Yes. Because Barred Rock chickens are a heritage breed, they tend to go broody. When the breed was first developed, modern incubators didn’t exist, so to hatch chicks, a broody hen was required. You can learn more about hatching chicks here. You can find the best incubators here.

 

Barred Rock Chicken Breed Characteristics

Breed History

According to the Livestock Conservancy, which promotes heritage livestock breeds, the Barred Rock was developed in America in the middle of the 19th century. It’s not clear exactly who developed the breed, however, it seems these chickens are the product of crossing Spanish, White Cochin, Dominique, Buff Cochin, Black Java, and Brahma chickens.

 

From the barred version, other types of Plymouth Rock chickens were developed (including white, buff, Columbian, and other combinations). You can read more about Plymouth Rock chickens here for the full list.

 

They were very popular as an all purpose breed around the turn of the 20th century, and were admitted into the American Poultry Standard of Perfection in 1874.

 

Barred Rock Chicken Coloring

These birds have beautiful black and white feathers that give them the trademark “barred” appearance. They have a single comb with red wattles and ear lobes that show off their health and vigor. They have yellow beaks and feet that give them a friendly, approachable expression.

 

The roosters have long, black and white striped tail feathers that they lose during fall molting (but they grow back even more beautiful). They’re nearly impossible to mistake for another breed, and they’re very beautiful!

 

Are Barred Rock and Plymouth Rock Chickens the Same?

Yes, Barred Rock chickens are a variation of the Plymouth Rock chicken. The barred feathers were the first coloring of the Plymouth Rock, and from the Barred Rock, other variations were developing, including:

  • White
  • Buff
  • Silver Penciled
  • Partridge
  • Columbian
  • Blue

 

How Big Do Barred Rock Chickens Get?

Pretty big – about 7 pounds for the roosters and 5 for the hens. While there’s not much you can do to influence the size of your chickens, feeding them a high quality diet will ensure their growth doesn’t get stunted.

 

Breeding Barred Rock Chickens & Genetics

Since the barring genes are common in a lot of chicken breeds, you probably aren’t surprised to learn that breeding Barred Rocks to create other, new hybrids is pretty common. It’s also popular genetics when trying to create sex linked chicks.

 

While we won’t dive too deep into genetics (it’s such a tricky topic!), here’s some interesting information about breeding Barred Rocks!

 

The barring gene is dominant.

 

A Barred Rock rooster will pass the barring gene to his offspring, however the Barred Rock hen will only pass the barring gene onto males (which is why you can tell the sex of Sex Linked chicks right after they hatch)

 

A barred rooster paired with a non-barred hen won’t produce sex-linked chicks. To create sex linked chicks, you must pair a rooster who doesn’t carry the barring gene with a purebred barred hen.

 

You can learn more about how chickens mate here and learn all you ever wanted to know about barring here.

 

Common Health Issues

Like other chickens, Barred Rocks are susceptible to lice, chicken mites, worms, and other parasites. Bumblefoot is another ailment Barred Rocks can get. To keep your chickens healthy, you can add herbs to their feed, such as oregano, garlic, and lemon balm. (In the store, we carry a product that helps support healthy immune systems with all natural herbs – you can learn more right here.)

 

Coops For Barred Rock Chickens

What Kind Of Coop Do Barred Rocks Need?

Like all chickens, this breed does better with space to forage and run. There should be plenty of room inside the coop and run. You should also make sure it has the basic essentials like a roost, waterers, and feeders.

 

The ideal chicken coop should be:

  1. Safe from predators
  2. Well ventilated
  3. Draft-free
  4. Easy to clean
  5. 10 square feet of space per chicken
  6. Enriched with environmental interest, such as branches and toys

 

Barred Rocks are fairly large chickens, so to ensure they’re healthy and don’t develop bad habits, make sure their coop has 10 square feet of space per chicken.

 

Like other chickens, Barred Rocks are susceptible to predators, especially pullets and young roosters, since they’re more likely to wander off from the coop or roost on the ground at night.

 

To keep them safe from dogs, raccoons, opossums, and larger predators like bear, make sure your coop is safe. You should also let them free range in a run or tractor to keep them safe.

 

If you want to build your own coop, there’s plans for a predator proof chicken house here. Make sure you’re using the best chicken wire here for your particular coop, as well (generally, ¼ inch hardware cloth is best).

 

If you want to know how to identify common chicken predators, you can read this article.

 

Barred Rock chickens are very cold hardy, but their coop still needs to keep them dry and warm in the winter.

 

In the summer, they should have access to a well-ventilated coop that’s clean and free of ammonia (so clean it weekly). Your coop should have good cross breezes so they don’t overheat.

 

Do you think Barred Rock chickens are for you? Do you raise Barred Rock chickens? Leave a comment below!

Wyandotte Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

Wyandotte Chickens: Buyer’s Guide

If you want a truly beautiful hen in your flock, you can’t go wrong with a Wyandotte chicken. With their intricately laced feathers and easy-going personalities, they’re the perfect addition to any backyard flock.

 

We have a few of these hens in our coop, and they not only are fun to look at, they lay large brown eggs. We’ve even hatched a few chicks – and even the barnyard mixes (aka mutts) had the delicate laced pattern on their feathers.

 

In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about Wyandotte chickens, including:

  • How to feed them
  • The different varieties
  • What their personalities are like
  • Where to buy them

 

Buckle up and get ready to be WOWED by the Wyandotte!

 

Wyandotte Chicken Personalities

Are Wyandotte Chickens Friendly?

Yes! This chicken breed is very friendly and loves to interact with humans. It’s always best to spend time with your flock when they’re chicks so they learn to recognize you as their friend – as they grow into adults, they’ll enjoy spending time with you more.

 

The roosters aren’t aggressive, and the hens don’t “go broody” – and they’re always cheerful! All in all, they make great pets! You can learn more about how to raise friendly chickens here.


In a flock, they get along with other chickens. Wyandotte chickens are bred to be friendly and docile so they typically aren’t bullies and will easily fit into most backyard flocks without drama.

 

Are Wyandottes Aggressive?

Not normally. When the roosters are about 1 year old, they occasionally can become a bit aggressive as they “feel their oats” and the hormones kick in. However, like most roosters, they’ll mellow out after the first year. The hens are always friendly, and since they don’t “go broody,” you can expect them to not undergo any personality changes during breeding season (spring and summer).

 

All About Wyandotte Chicken Eggs

Wyandotte chicken egg color: Light brown or cream

 

Wyandottes make great layers, and you’ll enjoy about 280 brown eggs a year. If you add plenty of shavings and herbs to her nesting box – and offer high protein treats and calcium – your flock will bless you with breakfast about 4 times a week! If you notice your Wyandotte laying egg shells that are weak (meaning, they break easily), offer her more oyster shells to increase her calcium intake.

 

How Big Are Wyandotte Eggs?

Wyandottes are medium-sized chickens (about the size of a Buff Orpington, but smaller than a Jersey Giant), but they lay nice, large eggs. Unlike bantams, you can expect a Wyandotte’s egg to be the same size as a grocery store egg – but since you can feed your chickens a healthy diet, her eggs will probably be better than store-bought!

 

What Color Eggs Do Silver Laced Wyandotte Chickens Lay?

Silver Laced Wyandotte egg color: Light brown or cream colored.

 

Silver Laced Wyandotte chickens lay large, light brown eggs. Some would call the color of her eggs a “cream” or “latte” color – either way, they’re large enough to make a nice omelette AND they look beautiful! (Note that the golden laced wyandotte egg color is the same – a light brown or cream color).

 

Are Columbian Wyandotte Good Egg Layers?

Like all other Wyandotte chickens, the Columbian variety is a great layer of light brown eggs.

 

How Long Do Wyandotte Chickens Lay Eggs?

Wyandotte chickens will likely give you eggs until she’s 3 years old. Most hens lay consistently from 9 months old until about 3 years old. After 3 years, she might still produce eggs, but it’ll probably be less frequently. However, there are some champion layers who will consistently give you eggs their whole life. To keep your hen in good shape, it’s best to feed her a diet of 16% protein layer feed and also offer high protein treats and lots of calcium.

 

How Old Are Wyandottes When They Start Laying?

The Wyandotte chicken usually starts laying eggs at 6 months old. The exception is if they turn 6 months in the dead of winter – then she might not start laying until the following spring. Most chickens need about 14 hours of light per day to start laying – without it, they don’t produce the necessary hormones. You might be able to prompt laying by adding a light to their coop and giving them some extra light before nightfall.

 

Do Wyandotte Chickens Go Broody?

Like any other chicken breed, it’ll depend on the individual chicken. On the whole, Wyandottes don’t go broody (meaning the hen wants to hatch eggs for chicks). Instead, they prefer to spend their time looking for bugs and other goodies in the dirt. If you want chicks from your hens, it’s probably best to incubate them. You can see the list of incubators we recommend here.

 

Wyandotte Chickens Breed Standard of Perfection

 

What do Wyandotte Chickens Look Like?

According to the Laced Wyandotte Club, this breed should sport these characteristics:

 

  • Personality: Graceful and docile
  • Back: Broad, ending in a full tail
  • Beak: Stout and well curved
  • Comb: Rose comb, should be red
  • Legs: Clean legs with 4 toes

 

While the exact color will depend on the variety, the laced versions have beautiful dual colored feathers – a main color (such as silver or gold), edged with black. Many people refer to the Golden Laced Wyandotte as a “black and gold chicken,” which is an accurate description.

 

The solid color Wyandottes (such as blue) will be a solid color.

 

They’re clean-legged birds, meaning they don’t have feathers on their legs. This breed also has rose combs, which give them a clean silhouette and graceful appearance.

 

Are Wyandotte Chickens Big?

While not the largest chicken breed, Wyandottes are fairly substantial with roosters weighing in at around 8 to 9 lbs and the hen at 6 to 7 lbs. This breed also comes in a bantam variety, which will be smaller – about 4 pounds. Although they’re smaller, bantams tend to be better for children, and are usually more willing to be held and cuddled.

 

What Colors Do Wyandotte Chickens Come In?

Wyandotte chicken colors include:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Blue Laced Red
  • Blue partridge
  • Buff
  • Buff Laced
  • Columbian
  • Gold Laced
  • Partridge
  • Red
  • Silver Laced
  • Silver Pencilled
  • White

 

The Gold Laced and Silver Laced varieties are the most popular Wyandotte chickens. Recognized varieties include:

  • Silver Laced
  • Blue
  • Golden Laced
  • Black
  • Buff
  • White
  • Columbian
  • Partridge
  • Silver Penciled

 

Are Wyandottes Cold Hardy?

Yes, they are! Because of their full, fluffy feathers, Wyandotte chickens do well in cold weather. This is because they can “fluff” their feathers, which provides a buffer between them and the cold. However, you need to make sure you feed your flock a solid diet based around a 16% protein layer feed. They will also need a draft-free home that lets them stay warm and out of the elements.

 

Can Wyandotte Chickens Fly?

Wyandottes are moderate fliers, meaning they can fly up to a roosting bar, but aren’t likely to fly over tall fences. The hens especially prefer to stick close to their coops (and the roosters will stay wherever their hens are).

 

Are Wyandotte Chickens Noisy?

The roosters can be quite talkative, but the hens tend to be quiet and docile. You’ll probably notice your roosters being particularly noisy if there’s predators around, or if it’s spring and they want to breed. The hens are fairly low-key, and won’t bully each other too much – so you’re less likely to hear squawking out of them.

 

Different Wyandotte Varieties

What Does “Silver Laced” Or “Golden Laced” Mean?

“Silver Laced” and “Golden Laced” refers to the type of feathers on a Wyandotte – meaning, the feather is a solid color (such as gold) and edged in black. The effect makes the chicken’s feathers look like lace.

 

Silver Laced Wyandottes originated from crossing dark Brahmas with Silver Spangled Hamburgs – which gave them the fuller, large bodies and the silver laced feathers (you can see similar lacing on Sebright chickens). Silver laced Wyandotte roosters weigh about 6 pounds, while the hens weigh slightly less.

 

You can see similar lacing on the Partridge Wyandotte, although the Partridge feathers are much more intricate.

 

Golden Laced Wyandotte chickens were created by crossing silver-laced Wyandotte hens with gold-spangled Hamburg and partridge Cochin roosters, although the most influence can be seen from the contribution from the gold-spangled Hamburg roosters. You can read more about chicken genetics here.

 

What’s A Blue Laced Wyandotte?

Blue Laced Wyandotte chickens have that “gasp” factor because their feathers are so beautiful and unusual. Unlike the Silver Laced and Golden Laced varieties, the Blue Laced Wyandottes sport buff-colored feathers edged in blue instead of black.

 

The blue gene which gives the chickens their coloring is an incomplete dominant gene – so only some will have the blue lacing. In other words, this version of the Wyandotte chicken doesn’t breed true so you can get blue, black, or even a splash Wyandotte chicken.

 

However, when you do get the blue lacing alongside the buff, the contrasting colors gives the chicken an other-worldly rainbow appearance.

 

Although not a recognized breed by the American Standard of Perfection, they do have a “Certificate of Development,” meaning they’re on their way to becoming recognized.

 

What’s A Buff Laced Wyandotte?

The buff laced Wyandotte chicken has beautiful red feathers that appear edged in white. They’re the opposite of Golden Laced Wyandotte feathers! According to sources, the buff color comes from crossing two Blue Laced Red Wyandotte chickens.

 

Like the Blue Laced Wyandotte, the color of their feathers can differ from chicken to chicken, with some having a deeper buff color, and others having a lighter coloring that looks similar to Salmon Faverolles.

 

You might also notice that the heads vary from hen to hen, with some having white or cream colored head feathers, and others sporting the buff color to their comb.

 

Do Wyandotte Chickens Come In Bantam Varieties?

Yes! Wyandotte chicken bantams are easily sourced at most hatcheries. You can find Silver Laced, Black, Partridge, Columbians, and Golden Laced bantams. Like their full size counterparts, they lay brown eggs, although they don’t lay as frequently (3 times a week or so) and their eggs are smaller. However, they tend to be even friendlier than full sized Wyandottes, which makes up for it! Not all hatcheries carry all types of Wyandotte bantams, so it’s best to call and make sure your favorite seller hatches them.

 

What to Feed A Wyandotte Chicken

Like most chickens, Wyandottes need a particular diet to help them grow from day olds into healthy layers, and then to lay great eggs for you. Here’s what to feed your Wyandotte at every stage of her life:

 

Chicks

Chicks should have a high protein (at least 18% protein) chick starter. They need a lot of nutrients to grow correctly, and most commercial chick starters have everything they need.

 

You can also feed your Wyandotte chicks treats such as dried shrimps or black soldier fly larvae.

 

In the first week of their lives, I’ve started feeding my chicks both of these treats – they’re irresistible, and I sleep better at night knowing they’ve got food in their bellies. Sometimes, due to shipping or general stress from being in a new place, they can skip dinner, which is bad news for a baby chick. The tasty treats are hard to resist, and even the most stressed chick usually sneaks some bites.

 

You should also provide water 24 hours a day in a mason jar waterer, or another waterer that are made for chicks. You can check out waterers here.

 

Layers

As previously said, layers should have a diet of layer feed which includes at least 16% protein. It’s best to not rely on free ranging for 100% of your flock’s diet. Chickens tend to become flighty when they have to forage, and they might hide their eggs. You also can’t be sure all your hens are getting a square meal.

 

You can use an automatic feeder or simply a bowl – both work well. If you want an automatic feeder, you can read more about them here.

 

For Better Eggs

While a good layer feed should be top priority, you can also feed your flock:

  • Calendula for golden yolks
  • Garlic for overall health
  • Oyster shells for extra thick eggshells
  • Apple cider vinegar for gut pH balance (which also means healthier eggs. You can read more about apple cider vinegar here).
  • Lemon Balm for overall wellness
  • High protein goodies like Black Soldier Fly Larvae

 

Waterers

Your waterer should hold enough water for your entire flock – if it doesn’t, you might want to consider more than one. It doesn’t matter whether your waterer is automatic, although it does make things easier.

 

The material also doesn’t matter, although in the winter, a stainless steel one will freeze faster.

 

You can read about waterers here and if you want to build an automatic one yourself, I have a DIY waterer tutorial here.

 

The Best Coop For A Wyandotte Chicken

While most any shelter will work as a home for your flock, Wyandotte chickens tend to be on the smaller side (especially if you have bantams), and like all chickens, their defenses are limited. So, it’s important to make sure they have a safe coop to sleep in each night.

 

In particular, your coop should:

 

For your coop to be safe for chicks, it must be 100% predator proof (even rats will attack chicks) so that no predator can get into the living area. An automatic coop door is a good idea.

 

Bear in mind that chicks don’t roost until they’re at least 8 weeks old (and sometimes, it takes longer), so they’ll spend their nights sleeping on the ground. There’s a possibility a predator could easy eat them, or they might get trampled by the other chickens. Having a separate area for your chicks is a good idea.

 

Nesting Boxes For Wyandotte Chickens

Your Wyandottes will also need a nesting box or two. It’s best to have 1 box for every 5 hens. You can make them or buy commercial ones – both are perfectly fine. Just make sure it’s easy to clean, and you can remove shavings or other bedding without difficulty. You can read more about nesting boxes here to get a good idea of what’ll work best for your coop. Be sure to clean it weekly, and remove all eggs daily.

 

How to Protect Wyandotte Chickens from Predators

To protect your Wyandottes from predators, your first line of defense is your coop. It should be predator proof, and it’s best to also have a run (instead of free ranging). You can learn about the different types of chicken wire here. Hardware cloth is the safest, but it’s also the most expensive – in some cases, chicken wire might be a better option (it’s what we use.)

 

You can also use motion sensors to trigger lights around your coop. Since most predators like raccoons don’t like sudden light, it can deter them.

 

One predator to watch out for are domestic dogs. While they won’t hurt your chickens because they’re hungry, they might hunt them for sport. To keep your chickens safe, make sure their coop and run is dog proof. If dogs keep bothering your chickens, you might want to put a fence around your property.

 

The Best Hatcheries To Buy Wyandotte Chickens

Most major hatcheries will have Wyandotte chickens for sale (both full sized and bantams). Here’s some we have experience with:

  • Cackle
  • Meyer
  • Murray mcMurray
  • Ideal

 

Most Wyandottes seem to cost under $5 per chick, which is a reasonable price. You can learn more about what chickens cost here.

 

Are Wyandotte chickens for you? Leave a comment below!

Polish Chickens: Eggs, Colors, & More

Polish Chickens: Eggs, Colors, & More

The Polish chicken is a cute, quirky poultry friend that is a true delight to have in your flock.

 

With a natural talent to shine in the coop or shows, the Polish chicken has many qualities that can make it a good addition to your flock.

 

They’re also adorable, friendly, full of personality, and make great companions. In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the Polish chicken.

 

Polish Chicken Personalities

What Are Polish Chickens Like?

Polish chickens are quirky, funny creatures that are full of personality and love to be held.

 

They’re best known for the tufts of feathers on their head, lovingly referred to by chicken owners as their “pom pom.”

 

This chicken breed is a stunning mix of white, brown, and black making it a real head turner. The silver laced polish varieties are black and white chickens.

 

They’re great for children since they’re not aggressive, like being held, and are friendly. Because of their size and the crest of feathers (which can cover their eyes and make it hard for them to see), they can be a little skittish around very fast movement.

 

But with consistent handling and treats like black soldier fly larvae, your Polish chickens will welcome your visits!

 

What Are Polish Chickens Used For? (What Is The Use Of The Polish Breed?)

Polish chickens are largely kept for ornamental reasons – because they’re pretty and friendly. They’re also great for children because they like to be held and enjoy human companionship. Polish chickens are fair egg layers, and you can expect 2-3 eggs per week (assuming the hen’s diet is adequate. You can learn more about what chickens eat here and high quality alternative feeds here.)

 

Quick Facts about Polish Chickens:

Appearance Varieties Eggs Personality
Feather crest on head White Crested Black White Friendly
4 toes Golden laced Lay 2-3x per week Quiet in coop
~6 pounds Buff laced ~100 eggs per year Good for children
V-comb, small wattles Silver laced Medium sized Likes treats & toys

Appearance

Polish chickens have 4 toes, a crest of feathers on their head that often covers their eyes, and have a calm appearance. The hens do not have prominent wattles or combs, and both sexes have a v-shaped comb.

 

Polish chicken breed and color varieties:

  • Non-Bearded White Crested Black
  • Non-Bearded Golden
  • Non-Bearded Silver
  • Non-Bearded White
  • Bearded Golden
  • Bearded Silver
  • Bearded White
  • Bearded Buff Laced
  • Non-Bearded Buff Laced
  • Non-Bearded White Crested Blue

 

At most major hatcheries, you’ll find most of these types. The most popular Polish chicken varieties are:

  • Silver laced
  • Buff laced
  • White crested black
  • Golden laced

 

The laced chickens are popular because their feathers are very beautiful, and they’re a colorful addition to any flock. The white crested black variety are prized because they’re black chickens with a contrasting white crest – a real head turner!

 

You can also find “frizzled” variants (the feathers look messy and turn upward, instead of lay neatly against their bodies.). You can learn more about frizzles here.

 

It’s important to note that Polish chickens aren’t very cold hardy, but they’re heat tolerant. So, if you live in a cold area, you will need to pay special attention to them during the cold days. In the summer, it’s also important to note they could get heat stroke – so providing cool, fresh water at all times is critical.

 

Is A Polish Chicken A Bantam?

While there’s full size Polish chickens, there’s also Polish bantams available (you can read more about how to raise bantams here – because of their size, they have some special needs to keep them safe from chicken predators.

 

Full size Polish roosters weigh about 6 lbs and hens weigh 4.5 lbs. The bantam varieties weigh about 2-3 pounds.

 

They’re relatively good fliers, although they’re unlikely to “fly the coop” and wander off. Because of their crest of feathers, they can’t see very well, so they usually stick close to home.

 

Do Polish Chickens Have 5 Toes?

Polish chickens have only 4 toes. Only:

chickens have 5 toes. You can learn about these chicken breeds here.

 

Are Polish Chickens Aggressive?

Not usually. Polish chickens are easy going, and due to their friendly natures, they enjoy human company.

 

What Age Do Polish Roosters Crow?

The age a rooster will first crow varies on the breed, but in general they typically will begin crowing at about four or five months of age, some late bloomers even at 8 months.

 

Eggs

Do Polish Chickens Lay Eggs?

The Polish chicken is not reliable egg layers although they do lay a good number of around 200 medium to large sized eggs/year. Although it does take them a while to get into the swing of laying, but once they do it comes consistently.

 

Despite popular myth, you don’t need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs, although it’s not a bad idea to keep one to protect your hens.

 

How Many Eggs Do Polish Chickens Lay?

Polish chicken hens aren’t great layers – you can expect 2-3 eggs per week. This also depends on her diet (a poor diet can cause chickens to stop laying eggs. It’s best to stick with a 16% layer feed and always offer a calcium supplement. You can learn more about egg laying, including how often chickens lay eggs, here.

 

What Color Eggs Do Polish Chickens Lay?

Polish chickens lay white eggs.

 

Are Polish Chickens Good Layers?

Since this chicken is often used for ornamental purposes their egg laying ability varies on the breed. Polish are sweet natured and beautiful exhibition birds but not reliable egg layers.

 

How Many Eggs Does A Polish Chicken Lay?

Polish chickens lay around 200 white eggs per year.

 

What Age Do Polish Chickens Lay Eggs?

Most Polish hens start laying eggs at about 5 months of age, which is a bit earlier than other popular breeds like Cochins, Speckled Sussex, or Buff Orpingtons. This will depend on her diet and the season – if she turns 6 months old during the winter, she might not lay until spring. Most chickens need 12-14 hours of light a day to lay eggs.

 

Hatching Chicks

Are Polish Chickens Broody?

While any chicken can go broody (even roosters, oddly enough), Polish chickens aren’t bred for their mothering abilities. So, they don’t tend to go broody.

 

How Long Do Polish Chickens Take To Hatch?

Like other breeds, you should expect it to take 21 days for your chicks to hatch. You can learn more about hatching chicks here and discover the incubators I recommend here.

 

Once the chicks hatch, offer a high-quality 18% protein chick starter feed.

Caring For Your Polish Chicken

Full size chickens and the bantam versions have similar needs:

  • A safe coop (you can learn how to build a predator-safe coop here)
  • A high-quality feed (here’s the feed I recommend)
  • Clean water (get my waterer recommendations here)
  • Entertainment, such as a chicken swing

 

To keep predators and pests out of your coop, it’s best to use a chicken feeder that’s easy to clean and/or will automatically close. You can check out the chicken feeders I recommend here. 

 

For all chicken breeds, hardware cloth is a good option to keep them safe – you can learn more about chicken wire here and discover which option is best for your situation here.

 

Do Polish Hens Have Spurs?

No, they don’t. Only the roosters have spurs.

 

Where Are Polish Chickens From?

The origins of this breed is a bit unclear, however,  there are several anecdotes saying that the bird came from Europe. The most notable story is that in 1736, the King of Poland was dethroned and fled to France bringing with him his beloved Polish chickens.

 

They were well loved by the French aristocracy and from then on their future was assured. The Polish chicken traveled from Continental Europe to England (1700’s) and eventually finding its way to the USA in 1830-1840.


Where To Buy Polish Chickens?

Most major hatcheries carry Polish chicks, including:

  • Cackle Hatchery (You can read our review of Cackle Hatchery here.)
  • Meyer Hatchery
  • Murray McMurray
  • Ideal Poultry
  • Stromberg Chickens

 

You might also be able to find Polish chickens at farm stores or local breeders.