If you’re thinking about raising your own baby chicks, there are plenty of reasons to consider an online hatchery.
Not only will you be able to choose from a wider variety of chicken breeds, but you’ll also enjoy the convenience of having your new additions shipped directly to your door.
Not sure where to look? Here are some of the best places to buy chicks (and chickens!) online.
17 Best Places to Buy Chickens Online – Our Top Recommendations
If you search for hatcheries, and you’ll likely get a million results.
Only spend time researching hatcheries that showcase good reviews, and make sure they comply with local and national laws.
Here are some of the best place to buy chickens and chicks online.
Stromberg’s Chicks and Game Birds Unlimited
Stromberg’s is one of the most well known online hatcheries around.
Not only does this company sell baby chicks, but it also sells adult birds, doves, pigeons, and more.
You can also buy unique equipment like building systems for coops, wild birdhouses, and more. Nothing is considered off-limits!
J&M Hatchery is a small hatchery that is family-owned, headquartered in Pennsylvania.
This company sells a variety of unique breeds, including White Bantam Silkies.
You can find other less common species here, too, like French Guinea Fowl Keets and White Muscovy Ducks.
You do, however, have to order at least 25 birds per shipment.
Murray McMurray Hatchery
The name might be funny to say, but Murray McMurray Hatchery is really no joke – this company sells all kinds of poultry but is best known for its chicks.
The company is one of the largest American hatcheries and is headquartered in Iowa.
Cackle Hatchery is located in Missouri and is one of the largest online sellers of baby chicks.
This company sells more than 185 different types of poultry, including egg layers, broiler birds, bantams, rare breeds, game fowl, turkeys, ducks, geese, and more.
There are a variety of purchasing options available – usually, the minimum is anywhere between 15 and 25 birds.
However you may be able to purchase a “city/town” package, which consists of a shipment of five to ten birds. These are priced higher per bird, since shipping costs more.
Another large online hatchery, Meyer Hatchery is located in Ohio.
This company sells a variety of chick breeds along with hatching eggs, supplies, coops, books, and even pullets.
You only need to order three birds when you order with Meyer Hatchery – an attractive option for people who are raising chickens in limited space.
Freedom Ranger Hatchery
A family-owned hatchery in the center of the Pennsylvania Dutch country, Freedom Ranger Hatchery specializes in sales of slow-growing broiler chickens for small farms as well as organic, free-range, and pastured poultry operations.
This hatchery is home to the beloved chicken breed, the Freedom Ranger, which is produced from genetic stock in France.
These chickens tend to grow a bit more slowly than other game birds that are usually used in commercial poultry production.
However, they are well-suited to pasturing and do well with these sorts of organic growing methods.
Hoover’s Hatchery is unique in that it offers free shipping of all backyard poultry breeds.
The company sells a variety of species, including chickens, geese, bantams, turkeys, pheasants, guinea keets, ducks, and more.
Most orders come with a minimum of 15 birds.
My Pet Chicken
My Pet Chicken is one of the best places to go if you are looking for information about how to raise chickens, but this company also sells chicks online.
They specialize in small orders, so if you’re raising chicks in an urban or suburban environment, you won’t find a better company for your needs than My Pet Chicken.
You can order as few as three chicks, with no requirements for breed – you can mix breeds if you’d like.
My Pet Chicken, as the name implies, also sells a ton of gear for people who view their chicks more like family than farm animals.
You can buy everything from chicken saddles to chicken diapers, along with fertile hatching eggs, fencing, coops, and more.
Privett Hatchery is located in New Mexico, so if you’re looking to order birds and you live out west, this might be your best bet.
Privett sells a variety of chick breeds along with other species like turkeys, goslings, ducklings, and more.
A minimum order of 25 chicks is required.
Established in 1937, Ideal Poultry is one of the largest suppliers of baby chicks in the United States.
There is no minimum number of chicks that you have to order, as long as your minimum total order of poultry comes to $30 or more, not counting shipping and handling.
If your order consists of a small number of chicks, Ideal Poultry might put male chicks in the box for warmth. You can also purchase extra straw or heat packs.
Purely Poultry sells all kinds of chickens along with waterfowl, peafowl, turkeys, quail, and more.
Another family-owned business, Purely Poultry has minimum orders of 10 birds on most chicken breeds. Adult birds don’t come with shipping restrictions, however.
Townline Hatchery has been around for well over 100 years. This company maintains all of its own breeder flocks on site and offers buyers a more reliable reputation.
Their employees are incredibly hands-on, hand-gathering and treating the eggs, setting and checking incubators, and more.
If you’re new to buying chicks through the mail, Townline Hatchery might be one of your best bets.
They have a great customer service team that can answer any questions you might have.
Chicks are sold in minimum batches of 15, with a discount of more than $2 pet bird when you buy more than 100 chicks.
Another popular hatchery, located in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is Sunnyside Hatchery. It is one of the few commercial hatcheries left in the state of Wisconsin, in fact.
This company sells straight run birds for just $1.40 each for most breeds.
You can order fewer than ten chicks, too, and they even offer specialty services like beak trimming before shipment.
And if you don’t exactly care what breed you get, you can purchase the “hobby farm assorted” package, which comes with a variety of breeds at only $1.03 per chick.
MtHealthy Hatchery is located in Cincinnati, OH.
This hatchery offers more than 30 different breeds and varieties of poultry, and promises 100% live delivery and full count on every order.
They offer free shipping on day-old poultry for most breeds, too.
Ridgeway Hatchery has a 96 year reputation of providing high-quality mail-order chicks. This company sells chickens along with ducklings, chicks, pheasant, quail, and more.
Ridgeway Hatchery is small, so their selection of chicks is somewhat limited. Order minimums are 25 birds for most breeds.
Chickens for Backyards
The name pretty much gives it away, but Chicken for Backyards is one of the best hatcheries for you to consider if you’re looking for backyard poultry.
This company offers hatching eggs along with popular breeds of chickens.
They also sells supplies, which all come with free shipping. You can order as few as there baby chicks and can mix and match breeds, too.
Based out of Iowa, Welp Hatchery not only sells chicks from common egg-laying breeds, like White Leghorns, but also sells meat birds, rare breeds, and bantams.
You can buy other types of poultry here, too, including guineas, pheasant, goslings, ducks, and even rare chukar partridges.
This hatchery also sells equipment and poultry raising supplies. You will need to purchase at least 25 chicks with a minimum of five per breed or sex.
Advantage to Buying Chickens Online
You can always buy chicks at your local feed store or through your local poultry association – if you have one where you live.
However, online hatcheries offer a lot of benefits.
Not only can you buy baby chicks and older birds here, but you also have the advantage of a wide variety of breeds (and even other species, like ducks, guinea keets, and turkeys).
Here are some of the other advantages of buying your poultry from an online hatchery.
Buying chicks or chickens online is one of the most cost-effective ways to build a backyard flock.
Chicks can be purchased for as little as a few cents apiece, with costs decreasing even more when you buy in bulk or purchase unsexed chickens.
If you head over to your local Tractor Supply or other farm and garden store during prime chick season, you are likely to see tons of the fluffy little cuties running around.
However, the breed selection is probably going to be limited.
If you want to raise a unique breed, like a Silkie or a bantam breed, you’re going to have a hard time finding it locally.
Buying your chicks or chickens from an online hatchery gives you more options in the types of birds you order – you can build your own creative backyard flock!
Can Buy From Anywhere
Live in the remote tundra of northern Canada? The rural bayous of Louisiana? Don’t worry.
With an online hatchery, it doesn’t matter how far away you are from civilization -the chicks come to you.
This is a nice feature, particularly if you are looking to raise a more exotic breed that is not available locally.
Start at Any Time
If you’re interested in ordering baby chicks or chickens, you can start researching your purchase at any time. While you get to choose your ship date, it’s best to purchase baby chicks during a time of the year when the weather is mild.
However, you can put your order in now and set the ship date for later, saving you time later on when your schedule starts to fill up.
Most of the best online hatcheries also have physical print catalogues, so if you prefer to research in that manner, you can go online and get more information about the company’s breeds, shipping policies, and more.
Sexing a chicken isn’t always accurate – so buying from an online hatchery that is well-established and reputable can give you some added insurance.
Most have a 90% policy so that if you purchase pullets and end up with cockerels, for example, the hatchery will refund anything exceeding 10% of the order.
If you order ten pullets and one is a cockerel, you won’t get refunded – but if two are cockerels, they will refund one of them. Others will buy the unwanted birds back.
Challenges of Buying Chicks Online
One of the biggest difficulties of buying chicks online is that you can’t actually interact with the store facilities or store employees.
When you purchase chicks from a local source, whether it’s a local breeder or a farm and garden store, you will be able to interact directly with store staff.
They can answer any questions you might have about raising baby chicks – a must if you are new to the hobby.
Plus, these employees often know a bit more about the specific breeds. You may be able to get more information about how aggressive a certain breed is or about its various health needs.
You might even be able to find out how well they lay. You can also buy things like feed, bedding, heat lamps and more – it’s a one-stop shopping experience.
Baby chicks that are shipped directly from the hatcheries also tend to be a bit more vulnerable.
The chicks will be younger as compared to those sold in stores – stores tend to get large batches of chicks but won’t sell them all at once.
When you buy chicks from hatcheries, they are sold at a day old. The birds you receive may be fragile and you might lose some in transit.
There are some other issues that may arise out of the stress of shipment, too. Pasty butt often occurs in chicks that were shipped, too.
Keep in mind that most online hatcheries require you to make a minimum order. Usually, this will be at least 25 or 50 baby chicks.
This might sound like a lot, but the reason is for the birds’ own safety and warmth while they are being shipped.
Finally, there are some ethical concerns around ordering chicks online. Recently, some animal rights activists have releases sensational videos of dirty, inhumane living conditions for baby chicks.
While there are some hatcheries out there that maintain these kinds of facilities, going with a reputable facility can reduce the likelihood that you will be subjecting your chicks to this fate.
Do keep in mind, though, that often hatcheries produce more chicks than they can sell – and sometimes, excess chicks are killed.
This is particularly true with all-female batches. In addition to this, chicks often crowd together for warmth, which can cause unnecessary deaths.
However, these are problems faced by any place that produces baby chicks for sale – and it’s not a problem that’s exclusive to online dealers.
Just remember to do your research and only select one of the best, most reputable online sellers.
Should I Buy Baby Chicks or Adult Birds?
When you’re looking for the best place to buy your birds, it’s easy to overlook an important decision that you need to make – whether you are going to buy chicks or chickens!
Think carefully about the goals that you have in mind for your birds.
While hens that are already laying are significantly more expensive than buying baby chicks (you’re talking about an investment of at least $20 per laying hen), you can forego some of the other expenses involved with raising baby chicks.
You won’t need to feed them for four to six months, nor will you need to worry about setting up and maintaining a brooder.
Baby chicks can also be quite vulnerable.
It’s not uncommon for hatcheries to ship a few extra birds in your box per order just as added insurance- there’s a good chance that some of your chickens will die in transit.
Adult chickens can be fragile, too – but not nearly as much as younger chicks.
There are benefits to starting with baby chicks, though.
Baby chicks don’t eat nearly as much as adults, so the expense of feeding a baby chick until it’s ready to lay won’t be nearly as high as sustaining an adult chicken later on.
Plus, raising a baby chick from the very beginning of its days will help you form a closer bond with your bird.
Some breeds can be quite friendly, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of cuddling a day-old chick!
Plus, raising baby chicks is a great experience for children in your family, too.
What to Consider When You Are Buying Chicken Online
No matter where you choose to purchase your chickens – be it online or from a local supplier – it’s important that you take the appropriate precautions to make sure you get the birds you were expecting.
Here are some tips to know what to look for when you are buying chicks online.
Not only do you need to make sure that the birds were well-cared for, but it’s also important to know whether the facilities were clean. You should never buy chicks or chickens from a facility that is unsafe or filthy in any way.
One of the advantages to buying chickens locally is that you will be able to see these facilities firsthand.
If you’re buying online, you unfortunately don’t have that luxury. You won’t be able to see if there are any sick animals or animals sporting untreated wounds.
However, it’s important to check the reputation of the breeder or hatchery.
If you purchase from a mail-order site, make sure you take the time to read reviews.
The more information you have, the easier the purchasing process will be.
Do your research!
You can’t be there in person to inspect the birds or the facility, so you need to do more research on the other end of things instead.
Check for Healthy Characteristics
Once your chickens or baby chicks make it safely to you, it’s important to conduct a thorough inspection to make sure everybody is in good health.
While chickens will vary a bit from bird to bird, there are some general things you should keep an eye out for.
- Eyes: The eyes of healthy chickens will be clear and bright. The skin surrounding the eyes should not be red or swollen, and there should be no discharge, excessive blinking, or droppiness.
- Feet and Legs: The feet should be free of infection or wounds. The nails will lay flat against the toes. The legs will have scales that are smooth and flat, with no discoloration or wounds on the lgs.
- Feathers: If you’re buying a chick, the feathers should be dry and fluffy. If you’re buying an adult bird, the feathers should be flat and smooth. There should be no bald spots, particularly around the vent or under the wings (this is often a sign of mites or lice).
- Nostrils: The nostrils of your chickens should be clean and clear, with no trace of discharge or any other fluid.
- Beak: The beak should not be broken or bent in any way. It should open and close fully.
- Behavior: Your chicken or chicks should stand straight without limping, with a strong neck that doesn’t droop. There shouldn’t be any wheezing, sneezing, coughing, or rattling sound coming from the bird, either.
This one’s easy! If you want all female chicks, order pullets. Male chicks will be cockerels.
If you purchase a straight-run batch of chicks, you will receive unsexed birds.
If you want a specific gender count, like half males and half females, don’t order straight-run, as there’s a chance that you will get all males or all females.
When you’re purchasing baby chicks, try to schedule your purchase during times when the weather is mild.
Most hatcheries ship their largest batches of chicks in the spring, which is when the weather is best for transporting poultry.
Try not to order during cold or hot weather, because things always happen. The post office could be closed for a weather-related issue and you could have chicks sitting in a box in poor conditions for days at a time.
Most hatcheries will advertise prices that are more or less similar to each other.
However, there are some other ways you can slash costs when buying poultry, too. Younger birds are cheaper than adults, and they’re often vaccinated, too.
Unsexed or straight run birds will also be less expensive. Buying in bulk can save money, as will purchase common, less exotic breeds of chickens.
How Many Chicks Should I Order?
Before you place your order, make sure you have a good idea of how many birds you actually want (and need).
Most hatcheries have minimum orders of at least 25 birds. That may sound like a lot of birds, and in some cases, it might be too many.
Be aware of the zoning laws in your area. Some towns and cities do not allow people to keep more than five or six chickens – and most do not allow roosters.
If you have your heart set on an online hatchery but can’t raise 25 or more birds, for whatever reason, consider splitting an order with some friends.
There’s nothing to say that you can’t go in on the deal together!
Plus, the more chicks you order, the cheaper the whole purchase ends up being when you break it down by bird.
Keep in mind some other factors, too- like how many eggs you want and expect to receive.
Depending on the breed, age, and time of year, a hen will lay anywhere between three and six eggs per week.
If you have six laying hens, you will usually get about four eggs each day. Is that enough eggs for your family? How many do you eat per week? Will you eat more if you have them out in your backyard? And if you do have too many, can you sell them or give them away easily?
Also think about how much space you have.
Never purchase more chicks than will fit in your run and coop – this can cause a whole host of health problems. And remember, this may sound obvious, but many people often forget it – adult chickens are going to take up a lot more space than baby chicks!
A general rule of thumb is about 10 square feet per chicken in the run (you can get away with slightly less in the coop).
Finally, remember that baby chicks are shipped incredibly young, and as a result, not all will live through the journey.
There may be some deaths during shipment, so you should order a few extra to accommodate for those losses.
Just remember that chickens are social animals and should be kept in a group. Do not get any fewer than three chickens, as they will not thrive in groups smaller than that.
Finding the Best Places to Buy Chicks Online
When you’re new to raising chicks, it can be tough to find all of the information you need to get started.
Luckily, most of the hatcheries that we mentioned above have easily accessible websites – many of them also have blogs where you can read more about their shipping policies and how to handle newborn (or freshly shipped!) chicks.
Don’t worry – after you’ve ordered baby chicks a couple of times, your worries will be nonexistent. With practice comes perfection.
Ordering new baby chicks online is one of the best ways to begin building a healthy, happy, and productive backyard flock.
Alternatives to Buying Chicks Online
If you’re reading this article, you might be wondering why you need to buy chicks or chickens online in the first place.
To be fair, there are many alternatives to buying birds online – but the benefits of online hatcheries typically outweigh other options.
Here are some other choices, though, if online shopping just really isn’t your thing.
Local Feed Store
Buying chicks from your local feed store is the second-best option to buying them from an online hatchery.
When you purchase from a local feed store, the chicks are still shipped, but you can support a local business with your purchase.
You may be able to get sexed birds if you are not allowed (or don’t want) to have roosters.
You can get exactly as many birds as you want, too, with no minimum number required in most cases.
Another benefit of ordering chicks from the local feed store is that, in most cases, you can return a rooster if you accidentally receive one.
They will take care of it for you, instead of you having to rehome it yourself.
Buying from a local breeder is another good alternative to buying chicks online.
You eliminate the need for your chicks to be shipped, which can reduce the likelihood of deaths due to stress during shipment.
Plus, you’ll be able to get a firsthand look at exactly how the birds’ parents were raised, a good indicator of the overall health and vigor of your new additions.
You can find breeders near you by visiting the Livestock Conservancy’s website.
Consider visiting a poultry show if you aren’t sure what other options are out there for you. This is also a good way to find some local breeders.
If you aren’t sure which shows are in your area, reach out to the American Poultry Association.
Some stores that specialize in farm and garden equipment, like Tractor Supply, sell chicks.
You can purchase chicks directly through these stores. The benefit is that you don’t have to wait around for your chicks to come in the mail – you will have them instantly.