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    Tractor Supply Company

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    New Chicks Buyer's Guide

    By Jeannette Beranger, The Livestock Conservancy

    A basic buyer’s guide for choosing new chicks

    Whether you’re looking to add chickens to an existing group or you’re brand new to raising poultry, selecting the right chicks is key to having a healthy, manageable coop. Tractor Supply has everything you need to start and maintain a flock – the chicks, the brooder, the feed, feeders and waterers, even coops and bedding. If you order online, you can have chicks shipped to you year-round, or, during Chick Days in the spring, you can visit a Tractor Supply Store and select chicks yourself. What should you look for when selecting new chicks?

    What do I need to know before going to pick new chicks or chickens?

    Great question. Small birds are incredibly cute, and while raising your own flock is doable for beginners, you will increase your chances of success when you start with the right questions. You’ll want to understand what types of birds you are getting, how many you can manage, and ensure you’re prepared to handle the flock. We have a wealth of content and articles to help you get started  – but here are some main things to consider when starting.

    New chick owner basics

    1. How many chicks can I get? How many chickens can I raise?

    Start by checking local laws and regulations for your area and type of property. Many towns and counties have caps or other restrictions on how large a flock can be, or how much area can be dedicated to poultry. Next think about what you can feasibly accomplish. Raising chickens takes time, energy, resources, and space. How much of these do you have? Chicks are small, but chickens are bigger. You’ll want to make sure you can adequately care for them at all stages of their life.

    2. What type of chicken should I get? What should I consider when selecting the breed of chick or chicken?

    You’ll need to consider what you want the bird for, and how the bird will live.

    • Climate the chicken will live in: Chickens predisposed to deal with cold are called “hardy.” Breeds that raise better in warmer climates will have a larger comb, lighter feathers, and are called “heat tolerant.”
    • Use of the chicken: What are you looking for from your chicken? If it’s mostly eggs, there are specific breeds for that. You can get more granular here, choosing egg-laying breeds based on number of eggs they lay in a given time, shell thickness, and even egg color. If you’re raising chickens for meat, there are also specific breeds for that, which get fatter, faster (called “blockier”). Some breeds have a mix of both properties. They’ll have a decent size, but also be good egg layers.
    • Look of the chicken: The importance of this will vary depending on your priorities, but chickens are beautiful birds that come in a variety of styles. TSC carries more than 100 breeds of chickens available for order, and they all look different. Some breeds are even designated as Ornamental or Exhibition, with their unique style being one of their primary traits.


    What do I need to be ready for new chicks after I’ve selected them?

    You’ll need brooding supplies and patience for your new flock members. You’re taking over for their mother and will need to help them grow in an environment created and curated specifically for them for about 5 weeks before introducing them to a larger flock. Use the larger brooding guide here for more information, but your basic needs are below.

    I’ve heard chicks can spread disease? What should I be concerned about here?

    Live poultry of any kind will come with the risk of spreading salmonella germs, even if they look healthy and clean. You can minimize this risk by following basic safety steps.

    • Always wash your hands with soap and water after interacting with poultry, their environment, or their eggs. Even if you’ve been wearing gloves.
    • Keep children under 5 away from live poultry.
    • Snuggling, kissing, your birds should be avoided.
    • Keep the birds out of human living areas, especially bathrooms or any areas where food is prepared, served, or stored.