Purebred Heritage Poultry - Ask Before You Buy

LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,210 admin

It is always important to know your heritage breed of interest. Read & study it very well. Exhaust it (haha...that's impossible, but try to do it anyway!). Put a lot of time into knowing poultry and your breed(s) in general. Become that "crazy chicken" person.

When you buy/order eggs, chicks or adult birds from someone, ask lots of (intelligent) questions. The quality of your birds hinges on these things. You can tell a lot about a breeder or "breeder" by their answers to your well thought out questions. I have key questions that I always ask to figure out who & what I may be dealing with.

One huge one for me is lines. There are two reasons for this. I want to know the quality the breeder has put into their flock and I want to know where those are sourced so that I don't get the same elsewhere & end up inbreeding. If there is a website, you can be sure that I will check it out. I will also ask others that I respect about reputation. I will not buy from anyone who doesn't tell me their bird sources. Just one "good name" is not enough. If a "nobody" name is mentioned, I will follow up on them and have a chat with them. If hatchery is in it, it won't be of good enough quality to pursue and I won't buy. Respectable breeders know their foundation lines. They need to.

You also want to know how often the person has put new blood in and if they have seen any signs indicating inbreeding. Of course, you don't ask that directly. You ask it in more specific questions such as rate of lay, input of new genes, and so on.

Age of birds, if buying mature birds, can be a factor, but, age can be a benefit. Most people see it as a negative because they are conditioned to think hatchery & forced birds (which leads to less healthy stock...lay until they die). Most roosters are in their prime at 3-5 years. Hens are best at 2+. You might not get as many eggs, but you should get more strength & vigour in the resulting chicks for a few reasons that I'm not going to get into here. Pullets will give you eggs & chicks, but until they have their first molt, you shouldn't hatch from them. Hatching from a 2 year old hen is actually a best practice.

It doesn't take many chicks to recover the cost of your adult birds either. It can be very worth your while to buy those proven birds. Many newbies don't even think of that! I was sad when I sold my last foundation roo. I know what he gave me & there is a lot of goodness left in him!

Lately, I had someone tell me that they would only get one good year at best out of my older foundation rooster. What he failed to take into consideration was that the breed matures at 11/2-2 years! They don't mature at 17-20 weeks like many others do. I didn't sell to him as he had no actual knowledge of the breed, just that they were rare (and that could make him $$) and so that told me all that I needed to know about his intentions. He didn't care about the work that was put into them and would not continue it.

To be clear, I will sell to those with interest in having a great backyard chicken (I love seeing their enthusiasm), but if I hear greed and recognize it as such, its no sale.

This article states not to buy from someone who has only had the birds for "2 months" and turns around and is selling. This is a way of saying to be careful of those who haven't had their birds long and don't care to research and try to pursue the standard, but just wish to profit off of them with no effort put into them. I agree. You will usually get subpar to poor birds. Avoid these people. They are not really breeders.

Beware of Ebay and Amazon as the best breeders won't touch those sites, just as dog & horse breeders. They tend to sell through other channels.

Do your own research and network through forums & poultry groups. If you spend any amount of time on those, you will figure out which names (good & bad can have cutsie farm names & nice pictures) are trustworthy and which are the best associated with the breed.

Anyway, after all of that, here is an article on buying hatching eggs to give you more insight on buying these in particular. It has really good advice, but is not exhaustive on the subject (research more!):



  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2021

    @LaurieLovesLearning great advice. Thank you. I think with all that is going on around here it will be a year before I go out and try to find quality birds. More time for research!

    I am really picky about who I sell any animals to. If there is any doubt they will not take care of them I will not sell.