Don’t Buy Backyard Chickens Until You Read This
Updated: 19 February 2021
So you want to find some backyard chickens for sale? But you want chooks that are healthy, right?
And you don't mind spending decent money on them. But you want to make sure you get value for your hard-earned dollar.
So where to buy backyard chickens in Australia?
Easy. A reputable breeder.
But how do I find these breeders of backyard chickens near me? And how do I know they’re reputable? I hear you ask.
Don’t panic chooks. We’ve got the tips and tricks to help find where to buy healthy chickens in Australia. Don’t buy backyard chickens until you read this guide.
Reach out to Australian Poultry Clubs and Associations. There are dozens around Australia, and they can connect you with a chicken breeder in your area.
But you must be prepared to wait for birds to come up for sale, which can take months.
Generally, breeders will have excess pullets for sale from November to April, as most are hatched August to October.
FEBRUARY 2021 UPDATE: There are exceptions to this rule. If 2021 shows are cancelled, people may be willing to sell birds they would have otherwise kept.
How to find an Australian Poultry Club
Start with the state association body in your state or territory. They will be able to direct you to a breeder or another poultry club closer to your location. See my list of poultry clubs.
The other option is to Google "[insert breed] poultry club of Australia" or "[insert town] poultry club" or "exhibition poultry [your location].
Poultry clubs can be location-specific, e.g. "The Geelong & District Poultry Club Inc (my club).
Or breed-specific, e.g. "The Australorp Club of Australia".
Most clubs’ purpose is to promote pure-bred poultry, in most cases for exhibition (show chickens of Australia). But local clubs are there to help all poultry owners in the community.
Poultry clubs are an excellent source of information, most with hundreds of years of combined experience. They're also a fantastic avenue for finding quality poultry for sale, particularly rare breeds.
Many Australian poultry clubs will have a Facebook page, but not a website.
Wait! Buyer Beware!
Just because a person is a member of a poultry club does not guarantee that they're not going to sell you a 'dodgy' bird.
But the vast majority of passionate chicken breeders do not make money from the sale of their birds. If money were our primary driver, we wouldn't bother!
Check out my blog on FAQs to ask breeders when buying chickens.
State Associations and Poultry Clubs Around Australia
Note, this is not a complete list of clubs!
NSW Backyard Poultry has a list of NSW poultry clubs here.
QLD Backyard Poultry has a list of QLD poultry clubs here.
TAS Backyard Poultry has a list of poultry clubs in Tasmania here.
WA Backyard Poultry has a list of WA poultry clubs here.
VIC Victorian Poultry Fanciers Association (VPFA) has a terrific list of 36 VPFA registered poultry clubs in Victoria. However, not all are VPFA registered, e.g. Oakleigh District Poultry Society Inc and Bacchus Marsh Poultry Club.
SA South Australian Poultry Association Inc has a great list of 15 SAPA registered poultry clubs in South Australia.
Specific Clubs By Breed
|Plymouth Rock||Pekin Bantam|
Meet Cacklebook. The Facebook alternative to buy chickens online in Australia. The website requires a login and contains pages and groups within it. These groups include Australian Poultry Exchange, Poultry Sales Australia and many more. Register for an account on Cacklebook’s site.
For online poultry sales visit Gumtree. This site is another avenue for poultry, poultry housing and poultry supplies in Australia. This site is ideal if you're after Isa Browns for sale or Commercial Layers.
4. Poultry Auctions
Poultry auctions are usually conducted and organised by poultry clubs. Some excellent breeders have chickens for sale in Australia via a local chicken auction.
And there are also dodgy chicken breeders who pass off old layers as pullets etc.
In 2010, I vowed to never buy at auction again after a terrible experience. But then, in 2015, I did! I knew the birds I wanted to buy, who they belonged to, and it was a dispersal sale of all the breeder's bloodlines.
My suggestion? Go with a friend who knows chooks. Or go early (before the crowds arrive) and ask an official from the club to help you choose some birds to bid on.
Don't buy a bird just because it looks pretty! They should be bright and alert, eyes open and clear, clean vent and no discharge from the eyes or nostrils.
5. Local Egg Farmers
Local free-range egg farmers can be a great source of cheap Isa Browns for sale or commercial layers. In truth, you're only going to get another 1-2 years out of these hens before they either stop laying or run into reproductive health issues.
I suggest you only buy two at a time for a backyard. This way, you can get another two next year and space them out.
Some of my clients say "Oh Hubby's going to put them in the pot when they stop laying"... Uh-huh, sure! They quickly realise how awesome they are, get attached and can't do it. And then have a retirement home of spent hens! So if eggs are your priority, consider this upfront.
FAQs for Buying Chickens
As with everything, there are epic chicken breeders with your best interests at heart, and others don't. So all you can do is ask the questions, take a good look at the birds before you buy, and go with your gut. If you get a bad feeling, sleep on it, or walk away. Don't feel pressured. Read my blog on the best questions to ask a breeder before you buy a chicken.
The breeder won't let me see their place - Is this a bad sign?
That depends. Some chicken breeders don't want you to see their chicken coops as it may not be up to scratch. But for some, biosecurity or safety is a concern.
What does a healthy chicken look like?
Chooks should be alert, have a clean vent, bright eyes and be active. Chickens also talk to each other during the day - some talk a lot! This chatter is a good sign! They should NOT be droopy, sleepy, have any swelling around the face or any discharge from their eyes, nostrils or vent.
Do backyard chickens need to be vaccinated?
A healthy bird from disease-resistant stock and excellent husbandry is more valuable than a vaccinated bird. But it depends on your situation.
A few people (around 1%) are vaccinating chickens in Australia using a comprehensive program. It's an expensive commitment.
Many sell birds as "vaccinated", and vaccinate for Marek's Disease only. Other vaccines such as Infectious Bronchitis need repeating up to 15 weeks of age for full coverage.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking a "vaccinated bird" can't get sick.
Hy-Line Red offers an official vaccination program. They recommend vaccines for:
- Marek's Disease
- Newcastle Disease
- Infectious Bronchitis
- Avian Encephalomyelitis, and
- Fowl Pox.
For more information, visit here.
I know chicken breeders who vaccinate for Marek's, Infectious Bronchitis, Fowl Pox, Coryza and Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT). Another breeder vaccinates for Coryza and Marek's, and other old-school breeders breed for disease resistance. It's a complex issue and a personal choice.
Be firm about why you want to buy chickens, and wait a few months for the right birds if you have to. With a life-span of 3-4 years for a commercial layer and up to 7-10 years for heritage breeds - some hens even longer - they are a commitment. But a joyful one!
Don’t buy backyard chickens until you read this guide! We’re sure you’re now armed with facts to make the best decisions on buying healthy chickens in Australia.
Make sure you read our guide on the best questions to ask breeders before buying chickens. Visit our learning centre for tips on feeding, worming, and the best probiotics available for a happy, healthy flock.
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. Elise McNamara, Chicken Consultant & Educator.
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