Best questions to ask a breeder when buying chickens
When buying any poultry from a poultry breeder don't be afraid to ask questions! Most reputable sellers will be happy to answer them:
- Are the birds definitely female?
- How old are they?
- Are they vaccinated? If so, what are they vaccinated for? Please note that many birds that are "vaccinated" are only vaccinated for Marek's Disease. There are many breeders who do not vaccinate their birds, but have incredibly healthy stock. They keep their birds in excellent condition and only breed from healthy birds. I'm all for vaccinating, but know that just because a bird is sold as "vaccinated" does not guarantee healthy birds.
- Have they been wormed recently? (Not a deal breaker for me, just good to know)
- If they are 3-12 weeks of age at the time of purchase, ask if they have been treated for coccidiosis and are they on medicated feed? If they are 3-12 weeks at the time of purchase and not on a medicated feed, you may want to treat them for cocci with 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/warm weather.
- Are they laying? If not, when do you think they’ll start laying?
- Are they currently free ranging, or in a shed?
- What are you feeding them? Try to get a bag a feed that is the same or similar to what they have been on previously. Changing diets can be very stressful for a chicken!
You should always see your prospective new chickens before you purchase them. Look for healthy chickens that are alert, have a clean vent, bright eyes, active and no discharge from the eyes or nostrils.
Chickens also talk to one another during the day (some talk a lot!) so this is a good sign of a healthy chook!