Congratulations! You’re getting chickens!
We can tell you from personal experience that this is a step towards happiness and health for you and your family.
But buying poultry can be confusing. There are a lot of different places with backyard chickens for sale. How do you choose one? Where can you buy chickens for eggs?
Some places are better than others for buying chickens. Here are our top 4 places to buy chickens in Australia:
Feed stores and agricultural co-ops
Feed stores and agricultural co-ops are probably the safest place to buy chickens. These are local businesses with a reputation to uphold, so their birds will be sourced from a reliable breeder. This means that the birds will be healthy and free of disease.
Most feed stores will take orders for point-of-lay hens and pullets, as well as full grown laying hens. This means you can choose the right age and type of chicken for your flock. Another bonus is that these birds are often vaccinated against some of the more common chicken diseases!
Many stores also offer day-old chicks by mail order. There is nothing cuter than a box of chicks, but raising them requires different facilities and more effort than keeping older chickens. Chicks aren’t always sexed, which also means you may end up with a box of roosters! For more information about raising chicks, click here.
There are only a couple downsides to buying your birds from a feed store or co-op. One is that they usually only offer common chicken breeds. Another is that they are usually more expensive than chickens from Gumtree or private breeders. But often, this is a case where you get what you pay for!
Poultry breeders are also a great place to get chickens. Breeders may sell chickens online or direct to the public at bird shows. They are the best place to get heritage and rare breed chickens, and often sell birds at a variety of ages as well as fertilised eggs. Passionate breeders produce healthy birds and are usually eager to share their knowledge with new chicken keepers, making them a great resource.
However, there are as many amateurs as professional breeders and sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. Birds brought from amateur breeders may not be pure-bred or may have genetic problems, so it is important to do your research. Always buy from a reputable breeder- ask for recommendations from friends or a local poultry club, or do your research online.
If someone has chickens for sale but will not let you see their flock or facilities, you have to ask the question about whether their birds are really happy and healthy. If in doubt, get your birds from another source.
Gumtree or the local classifieds
Everything from fertilised eggs and day-old chicks, to pullets and point-of-lay hens, are available online and through the local classifieds.
Gumtree is a particularly good place to get mature hens, which are otherwise expensive. People buy chickens and then have to sell them due to a change of circumstances. These chickens may be slightly older, but you can often get an excellent deal on a chicken coop or tractor along with the birds.
Be mindful that chickens for sale on Gumtree or thought the classifieds are unlikely to be pure-bred, although some quality breeders do sell through online forums. As with chickens purchased from poultry breeders, it is best to collect your chickens from whoever is selling them in order to ensure that the birds are healthy and kept in good conditions. Choose your chickens carefully, as not all online vendors give you exactly what you ask for.
Hen rescue organisations
If you are getting chickens primarily for pets, rather than eggs, you may wish to support a hen rescue program. These organisations re-home ex-battery hens.
Battery hens are egg layers that are kept in tiny cages or at high density in larger spaces. Usually, they have never been outdoors and are killed at 1 1/2 to 3 years old, after their peak egg-laying years are over.
Although ex-battery hens will not produce as well as younger chickens from another source, they can continue laying (less intensively) for several years after adoption.
If you are adopting battery hens, you will be giving an animal that has been abused a natural and happy end to their life. However, be aware that ex-battery hens may not be as robust as other chickens, will not lay as reliably, and may have health issues due to their long confinement.
Are you getting chickens for the first time? Check out our handy articles:
- Have you decided to incubate your own eggs? We have the pros and cons of the different sources of fertilised eggs in our handy guide.
- The Beginners Guide to Chicken Keeping - We answer all your FAQs about keeping chooks
- How big a chicken coop do you need? Find out how to calculate coop size
- Wondering what age chicken to buy? We can help you decide what age is right for you!
- Getting chicks? Here is everything you need to know about making a brooder for them
Happy chicken keeping!
Rachael at Dine a Chook Australia