Uh...........did anyone out there think this would be HARD???
Good. Because I didn't either. Get ready for a bit of a rant. :P
So, we have been planning to order chicks through a hatchery. Some for meat, some for eggs. I poured over my favorite catalog and carefully underlined important information about each breed I was interested in. Then, I circled the breeds I wanted to order with a red marker. You know, so I wouldn't forget.
Low and behold, now we are ready to submit our order, and the hatchery is out of meat chickens. As in, totally out. Not backordered. Argh! Then, I notice several of the laying breeds we had chosen were backordered by at least three weeks, some for two months!
After looking at some other hatcheries online, I realized this is a common problem right now. In February. Who knew hatcheries started selling out of chicks so early? I didn't. This was our first time to order from one.
I thought I was ordering early!!!
So, we thought we might just get some from Tractor Supply. We called every day for several days hoping to hear they had received their shipment of eggs. Finally, they did. I dropped everything (I left rising bread in the oven for this!) and loaded up the kids and headed to the store.
No meat chickens like they were expecting. Bummer.
Lots of Rhode Island Reds. We already have several of those and wanted some different breeds.
Lots of Gold Sex Links. Hmmm. I wasn't particularly fond of getting "mutt" breeds. We have some mutts and they're not real pretty. I want old breeds. Heritage breeds. Breeds that can reproduce for us, if we want.
Then, there was a bin full of fluffy little yellow chicks with two reddish stripes down their backs. What were they? Nobody knew. The sign just said, "Pullets". I even took my hatchery catalog into the store with me, and Ava and I couldn't find these chicks anywhere in it. I asked several employees. They didn't know. They told me their "chicken guy" was out to lunch and would be back in a bit.
Then, a customer reminded me of another feed store just down the road that she thought had chicks.
They did! However, bless his heart, this nice old man couldn't tell me much about them either. I thought they looked like a bunch of Buff Orpingtons (because we have two) and a couple Barred Rocks (of which we also have two). He told me, "No, no. There's a bunch of 'em mixed up in there. There's Dominickers, Buffs, Rhode Islands, and Brown Leghorns."
When he got back there to look, he changed his mind. "Well, we must have sold all the Leghorns. But the rest of 'em are there."
Hmm..........I wasn't sure he knew what he was talking about. We have RIR chicks and they don't look anything like what he had in that bin. So, then I asked him if he knew if his Dominiques were male or female. He said there was no way to tell.
Ava and decided we thought they were both males, based on what we remembered about the head spots on our Barred Rock chicks we' ve been raising.
We passed on those and tried our best to choose four Buff pullets.
Then, we went back to Tractor Supply and found said "chicken guy". Turns out this guy doesn't know what breed ANY of the chicks were. Huh? They have signs on two of the tubs that say what breeds they are! It was the third tub that didn't tell me what breed was inside. He was clueless. So was I. And frustrated. These people didn't know what they were selling. How helpful is that? I even asked him if he happened to have the packing slip that came with them that afternoon. Perhaps that would have an itemization of what breeds were sent. I could tell he was losing patience with me.
Mixed in with the RIR were supposed to be some New Hamshire Reds. He couldn't tell which were which, so Ava and I decided to try two of the lightest chicks. We also got three of the "mystery" breed and one little rogue fella roaming around with the Gold Sex Links. This chick appears to either be an Ameracauna or Brown Leghorn. We're not sure. We're not even sure if it's pullet. This "chicken guy" held it upside down by the feet and declared it was a rooster because it struggled. Um.....okay. We kept talking for a minute and he did it again. This time, the poor little chick just hung there. "Yep." he said, "I think that one's a male."
Anyway....................we brought home 4 Buffs, 1 Ameracauna/Brown Leghorn, 2 New Hampshires (I hope), and 3 "mystery" pullets. 10 new chicks, in all. Hopefully 10 pullets.
By the time I got back home, I was mentally exhausted by the frustration I felt. Then I remembered my bread. It fell. I baked it anyway. It's meh.
All of that was just to remind myself next winter to order my chicks from a hatchery before February. I don't want to go through that again! I'd like to just order what I want and get it. On the other hand, if you really don't care what kind of chickens you get, go to a feed store and they will likely save you money on shipping. And you will not have to buy 25 of them for shipping safety.
Oh, by the way, the "mystery" chicks have been found out. You may already know. Do you? If you do, you're smarter than me! We believe they are Golden Comets.
I really didn't want mixed breed chickens because I want heritage breeds. However, they do appear to be excellent layers, which is also important to us. I'll let you know how I feel about them in 5-7 months.
Ok, rant over. I feel better. :)