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I love chickens! And I can say it’s been a great journey raising them in my backyard. From finding out where can I buy chickens, spoiling them, and raising baby chicks — it’s a good life!
There is a lot to love in raising chickens. Not only can you can expect a regular supply of the freshest eggs directly from your backyard, but you’ll also get great companions with wonderful personalities.
Yep, those personalities also have their own daily routines which mostly involves walking around, looking for treats, and pooping everywhere.
If you haven’t started raising chickens yet, you might wonder “Where can I buy chickens?” Luckily, there’s lots of options.
This article is based on my bestselling book about chickens. If you’re a brand new chicken mama (or papa), you’ll want a handy resource at your fingertips (Pssst….be sure to check out the baby chick week by week checklists!)
“Where can I buy chickens?”
You have lots of options, from local breeders to friends to established hatcheries. Below, I discuss each of these options.
Regardless of where you buy chickens, be sure to ask if the breeder or hatchery is NPIP certified. NPIP stands for National Poultry Improvement Program.
This means they’ve gone through a licensing procedure from the government so, among other things, they can legally ship chicks in the mail.
The reason this is important is because while there are many wonderful breeders who aren’t NPIP certified, if you’re just starting out and overwhelmed by your options, you can be sure that if a breeder has gone through the process of being NPIP certified, they have at least some minimum of standards for the chickens they sell.
When you have more experience, you’ll rely on NPIP certification less, but if you’re starting out, it makes choosing a breeder easier.
I personally purchase my chickens from a variety of places such as hatcheries, online, and from local farm breeders. Here are some of the places where to start looking.
The best breeders strive for perfection in their breeds, and you’ll likely buy chickens that are healthy and well-cared-for.
You can sometimes find information about breeders at a local feed store, but a better option is Facebook groups about chickens or general agriculture or your area, or other online forums.
If you do look for a breeder on Facebook, please be sure to look for groups in your general area – it does no good to try to find a local breeder in a group of 100,000+ members.
Private breeders are probably the most expensive source of chickens but you’ll get higher quality chickens and possibly breeds you can’t buy elsewhere. If you lan on showing chickens, this is your best bet to get the bloodlines you want.
BE SURE TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Don’t just trust someone online that claims they’re a breeder, especially if you’re looking for a specific breed.
There’s a lot of people who sell expensive chickens claiming they’re purebred, but the chickens aren’t – icelandic and ayam cemani are two such breeds.
Here’s private breeders who sell chickens (If you’re a breeder and want to be considered for this list, please email me your details):
Itty Bitty Chicken Farm – An NPIP/AI certified breeder located in Sanford, NC, and they have the most adorable silkies I’ve seen in a while.
MrAnimal Farm – MrAnimal Farm is a small farm located outside of Roanoke, in Moneta, Virginia that specializes in Silkie Chickens (Paint, Porcelain, Partridge & Red Pyle), French black Copper Marans and Chocolate Cuckoo Orpingtons.
If you’re wondering “where can I buy chickens” if there’s no breeders close to you, then baby chick hatcheries are a good option.
Before I tell you more, for full disclosure, I should tell you that as of the time this article is published, I’m not having chicks shipped to me anymore because I think it’s too stressful for the animals and too stressful for me.
Luckily, we have understanding postal workers, but I still have to coordinate with them when I expect my chicks to arrive, make sure I’m home, and still worry that the chicks will be in some place too hot, too cold, etc.
I’ve come home in the past only to realize about 2 hours later that there were chicks on my porch (not where packages are usually dropped off).
So for the sake of my sanity, I now drive to the hatcheries 8 hours round trip so the chicks don’t have to go through the shipping process.
This is the one I use if I want chicks shipped to me (newly hatched chickens can be shipped overnight or 2 day because the chicks absorb their yolks before they’re born and don’t require food or water for up to 3 days).
Cackle Hatchery is a US-based (Missouri) chick hatchery and breeding farm. They’re a good quality breeder with good customer service. I have not had a single chick die on the way to my home from the hatchery. You can read my review of this hatchery here.
Another great hatchery based in Iowa, US. I have used them in the past and can attest to their great customer service. They’ve been around for over 100 years so there is the quality in their brand.
I have not personally used this hatchery. According to their website, they allow you to buy a few chicks of multiple breeds. You can buy any size and mix ‘n match multiple breeds of chicken or any kind of poultry. They ship them safely, too!
Note that almost all hatcheries have minimum orders, and you need to pay for shipping. Be sure they ship chicks either overnight or two day, and that they have some sort of refund policy.
A common question I get from soon-to-be owners (after where can I buy chickens) is whether chickens need vaccines, since most hatcheries offer this service.
It’s up to you, but I don’t personally vaccinate my chickens. You can learn more about vaccines for chickens here, and discuss your particular flock with your local avian vet.
Local Farm & Garden Supply Stores
If you prefer to raise only a few chickens, and wondering “where can I buy chickens” without traveling hours or sending a boatload of time researching breeders, visiting your local feed store is easier than going through the whole hatchery process. You can buy one or a hundred, unlike hatcheries which usually have minimum orders.
These stores usually order and sell chicks in the spring, and don’t have a huge supply. First come, first served!
They’re not experts, the earn minimum wage, and usually can’t tell a chicken from a bantam or tell you what organic feed to buy without a chart. And don’t expect them to accurately tell you the gender of the chicks.
Look for chicks that are active, interacting with other chicks, and with no poop on their bottoms (this is called pasty butt.) Don’t choose chicks that are huddling, sleeping or laying on their side, or with poop stuck to their vents.
I’ve had mixed results buying chicks from local farm stores, and would choose a hatchery or a local breeder over them.
Raising your own backyard flock needs good planning and maintenance but altogether enjoyable and fulfilling. Hopefully, with the ideas in his article, you’ll no longer ask yourself “where can I buy chickens?”
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.