Buying Fertilized Eggs, Newly Hatched Chicks or Point Of Lay Hens?

“Is it best to buy fertilized eggs, newly hatched chicks or point of lay hens? Also, is it best to buy from a local farmer or from a hatchery?” ~ Margaret Collier

This is a common question and the answer has a lot of variables Margaret, but I’ll do my best to make it as uncomplicated as possible. Thanks for asking.

We’ll start with the advantages and disadvantages of fertilized eggs.

The biggest advantage in purchasing fertilized eggs is that it is the cheapest way to get chickens. Obviously this excludes producing fertile eggs from your own flock which is of course cheaper.

It is also exciting to hatch your own eggs.

However, hatching your own eggs requires incubation of some kind.

If you are lucky enough to have a broody hen, much of the work will be done for you. If you don’t have a broody hen, you’ll need to purchase or construct equipment to incubate the eggs.

For 21 days you must be regularly available to turn the eggs and periodically check the temperature and humidity within the incubator.

You also do not know whether you’ll get pullets or cockerels (females or males respectively).

It will be very unlikely that you will get a hatch rate above 90% so you’ll be paying for eggs that may not produce a live chick.

One additional advantage would be that once you’ve purchased or constructed an incubator, you can use it again and again.

Let’s move on to the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing newly hatched chicks.

Chicks arrive all cute and cuddly, cheeping and peeping. They are entertaining.

Chicks are also cheaper to purchase than point of lay hens.

Chicks don’t require incubation and you can typically order pullets or a straight run depending on your needs.

However, chicks require brooding. You’ll need a brooder box and all the implements that go along with it.

Caring for chicks requires time and effort, especially in the beginning.

We’ll move on to purchasing point of lay hens.

The advantages are obvious, no incubating and no brooding. By this point your birds will require no more effort on your part than if they were a year old.

However, older birds are more expensive to purchase. They have been fed and cared for by someone else and you’ll pay more because of that care.

Older birds are also harder to find.

In our area, it’s almost impossible to purchase hens that are older than 12 weeks of age. If you do, you’ll definitely pay a premium.

Regarding whether it is best to buy from a hatchery or from a local farmer, there are again points to consider.

If you are just starting out keeping chickens, I’d recommend that you start with poultry from a hatchery. Until you are comfortable being able to judge the difference between good and bad birds, using a well established hatchery will save you heart ache and head ache.

Although I am all for buying locally whenever possible and supporting local farmers (and other businesses for that matter) until you have some experience, you may just be inheriting someone else’s problems with parasites and diseases and such.

Margaret I hope this helps you to sort out what option best fits you and your needs.

Best of luck.

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