Buying Backyard Chickens: 8 Questions to Ask the Breeder
Updated: 21 March 2021
So, you’ve made the environmentally-friendly and sustainable lifestyle choice to buy some backyard chooks.
If you’ve never owned backyard chickens before, know what to buy, where to buy them and what you should know before you buy them can seem daunting.
However, we’ve all had to start somewhere! I’ve certainly made some huge mistakes - and costly ones at that.
So before you buy chickens, read through my 8 Questions to Ask the Breeder Before You Buy Backyard Chickens. Don't be afraid to ask - no matter how silly it may sound! Most reputable poultry sellers will be happy to answer your questions.
Want to know where to buy backyard chickens near me? Make sure you buy from reputable chicken breeders and read my guide before you buy.
If you aren’t sure which breeds are for you, read all about the best breeds for Aussie backyards (and kids). Plus, check out my list of essential things to consider before you buy backyard chickens - such as the council’s or your landlord’s permission!
Now, let’s crack on with questions to ask the breeder.
Are the birds female?
This may seem like one of those silly questions, but when you’re shopping for chickens for sale in Australia, you may come home with a rooster too many. Unless the chickens are sex-linked, it’s more challenging to ensure that they are pullets and not, in fact, roosters!
How old are they?
Up to 5 weeks, these chicks are adorable as. However, they will require a heat source and an entirely different setup.
Pullets / Young Birds
Buying chickens that are around ten weeks mean they no longer require a heat source. Bigger and more independent than chicks, but still young enough to tame them.
They are an excellent option for beginners.
Point of Lay
“Point of Lay” means the birds are ready to lay their first batch of eggs. This can happen around 10 to 20 weeks for hybrids. Pure breeds, however, may take a few weeks longer.
When purchasing these birds, feed them a well-balanced, protein-packed diet.
This is vital in assisting their bodies’ prepare for producing fresh eggs!
Laying / Adult Hens
If you’re looking for laying chickens to buy, these lovelies are your best bet. They’re well into their first year of lay and is the best age to purchase backyard chickens if you want eggs.
Your poultry seller should be able to tall you how many eggs you can expect.
They’re also entirely independent and require no extra care, so they’re easier to maintain.
Are they vaccinated?
Do backyard chickens need to be vaccinated? Hey, I'm all for vaccinating chickens in Australia.
However, just because a seller tells you a bird is "vaccinated" does not guarantee it is healthy.
If the breeder tells you the birds are vaccinated, ask them, “what are they vaccinated for?”
Often, breeders only vaccinate against Marek's Disease. Many breeders don’t vaccinate their birds but still keep their flock in excellent condition and only breed from healthy birds.
Have they been wormed recently?
While it isn’t a deal breaker for me, it’s just good to know if the poultry seller has wormed their backyard chickens for sale. For more information on worming, see my blog.
Have they been treated for coccidiosis?
Coccidiosis is an intestinal disease in poultry that destroys their organs’ ability to absorb the nutrition they need to survive.
If the poultry seller has not treated the birds, ask if they are on a medicated feed. If they are 3-12 weeks of age at the time of purchase and not on a medicated feed, you may want to treat them.
Use Amprolium as a precaution, or at least have it on hand. The stress of moving properties can leave birds at this age very vulnerable to coccidiosis during wet or warm weather.
Are they laying?
If not, when does the breeder think they’ll start laying?
Are they currently free-ranging?
Or are they living in chicken coops? If they’re not currently free-ranging and want them to be, you’ll need to learn how to transition them safely.
What are you feeding them?
Try to get a bag of feed that is the same as, or similar to, what they were eating before. Changing diets can be very stressful for a chicken! Check out my guide on what to feed backyard chickens in Australia.
You should always take a look at the chickens for sale before you buy them. Look for healthy backyard chickens that are alert, active, have a clean vent, bright eyes and no discharge from the eyes or nostrils.
Chickens also talk to one another during the day (some talk a lot!). Chatter is a good sign of a healthy chook!
Now you are armed with the 8 Questions to Ask the Breeder Before You Buy Backyard Chickens, so you can be sure you know what you’re in for.
Want your chickens to be the healthiest and happiest they can be? I offer backyard chicken workshops, online programs, phone coaching and in-person support to families, schools and free-range egg farmers.
Drop me a line - firstname.lastname@example.org, comment below or visit our Facebook page.
Elise McNamara, Chicken Consultant & Educator.