Hi, Jennifer,So good to hear from you again! Do you have a preference of hatcheries for new additions to your flock? We have always used Murray McMurray because they vaccinate their chicks, but do you know if there are others that offer that service as well? I'm looking for a more varied selection.Thank you!
Kathy! It's great to hear from you too. So first of all let me say that if you are a casual "collector" of chickens, then Murray McMurray is fine. Their chickens are perfectly healthy and can be great additions to a flock. However, if you want real quality chickens, you HAVE to go with a quality breeder. Breeders spend years even decades sometimes to perfecting a breed and it shows. With the quantity of birds that hatcheries put out, they don't have the resources to analyze and study the genetics like a smaller breeder who specializes in a few. When I was new to chickens we had a Cochin bantam and she was one of our favorite chickens. A few years later I visited a breeders farm and she raised cochin bantams, the difference was astounding! They looked like completely different chickens. Round robust little balls of fluff and feathers. We didn't love our little cochin any less, but the quality was amazing, and it's true with most all the breeds. The hard part, is finding a quality breeder that raises the type of birds you want. We were supposed to travel to Ohio this fall to get some Buffs, but I was so pregnant that we had to cancel. But crossing state lines is often required if you want something particular. If you have a breed in mind, I recommend joining a chicken forum that specialized in show quality birds. There are a couple on Facebook. This is one of my favorites https://www.facebook.com/groups/Rarebreedchickenauction/ Hope this helps! :)
Thank you so much for this information, Jennifer! I had no idea there could be a big difference between hatcheries and quality breeders and will save this as a reference. I'll check out the Facebook group you mentioned as well. As always, you are a tremendous help and I appreciate it. By the way, I have a small flock and one of my best layers, a 4-year old Buff Orpington, stopped laying several months ago and crows now. She's also mean to the other hens so I've had to isolate her since last summer. A little more trouble, but I can't bear to get rid of her!