Q. How can I reach you if I have any questions?
A. For immediate assistance send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can speak to one of our friendly and knowledgeable customer service representatives by calling Toll Free at 888-412-6715. Click here for our contact info.
Q. Can you send me a catalog?
A. We are online based and do not currently offer a catalog.
Q. Do I need a permit for poultry?
A. Check with your local housing authority.
Q. How much is shipping on my order of baby birds?
A. Shipping is based on the quantity of birds ordered as follows:
3-14 birds: $34.99
15-24 birds: $19.99
25-49 birds: $33.99
50-99 birds: $49.99
100-199 birds: $74.99
200-300 birds: $104.99
300+ birds: please call to place order
*Hawaii & Alaska orders have an additional permit processing fee of $25.00.
Q. Where do you ship to?
A. We ship to the entire United States including Alaska and Hawaii. In addition we also ship to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We do not ship outside the USA.
Specific rules by state:
*Hawaii orders must be placed at least 4 weeks in advance and can ONLY include chickens and supplies.
Q. What mail service do you use?
A. We ONLY ship live poultry orders through the US Postal Service. Other carriers do not handle live poultry shipments.
Q. How do the birds survive shipping?
A. Poultry have a 3 day supply of yolk left in their system when hatched. Mail travel is usually a 2-3 day delivery. We also pack each order different depending on the time of year and the current travel conditions.
Q. Can I pick up my baby chicks?
A. Chickens for Backyards is an online based company only, and therefore have no store front available for order pick-up. If you prefer to pick up your baby chicks, you can contact your local feed store. Or, if you live in Missouri, you can contact Cackle Hatchery.
Q. How far in advance should I order my chicks?
A. The earlier the better. We reserve birds on a first come first serve basis. The earlier you order your birds the better your chances are of getting them when you want them.
Q. What hatchery do you get your chicks from?
A. We work with several well-known hatcheries that are National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) certfiied.
Q. If I order different breeds, do they come together in the same shipment?
A. We coordinate your hatch/ship date based on the availability of each breed you've requested, so that your entire order will come in one shipment. The only exception would be an order for guineas, which must be ordered and shipped separately from chickens, ducks or turkeys.
Q. When will my chicks arrive?
A. We hatch/ship every Monday and Wednesday for most of the season. Please allow 3 business days to coordinate your hatch/ship date once the order is placed. You will be notified by email with your hatch/ship date. You can also call the office for this date. Your birds will arrive 2-3 days after said date. We advise the post office to call you when your birds arrive and it will be your responsibility to go pick them up. All orders not picked up the day of arrival will be considered abandoned and are not eligible for a refund or reshipment.
Q. Will the post office deliver our chicks to us at our home?
A. Each post office has their own policy. On each box, we put all phone numbers you have provided us, and instruct the post office to call you. You can call your local post office on or before the day you expect the delivery of the chicks to clear up any concerns you may have regarding their live shipment policies.
Q. What is your shipment guarantee?
A. We have an "Arrive Alive" guarantee. We guarantee your ordered number of birds arrive healthy and true to breed. Please contact us immediately (within 24 hours of your chicks arrival) should any losses or variances to your order occur, so we may replace your birds or reimburse you. Reshipment are subject to availability and minimum shipping requirements. If eligible, we will reship only once. Reimbursements are limited to the cost of the birds and will not include shipping charges.
Q. What is Marek's Disease?
A. Marek's Disease is a widespread disease affecting domestic chickens in all sections of the world. It is characterized by lesions affecting the nervous system, organs, and other tissues. Young chickens under 16 weeks of age are most susceptible. There is no treatment for Marek’s once the birds are infected.
Chicks must be vaccinated as close to the time of hatch as possible for the vaccine to be effective. We vaccinate all of our own breeding stock and strongly feel that you should do the same if Marek's Disease is in your area. Vaccinating your birds for Marek’s is another appropriate step in strong poultry management.
Q. When will my credit card be charged?
A. We charge your card the day the order is received. In order for us to reserve your birds in advance we must have them paid for.
All mail in orders are subject to a returned check fee of $25.00
Q. Can I cancel my order?
A. You can cancel on any day (Business hours Mon-Fri) except 24 hrs before and on your ship day. All orders are subject to a $10.00 restocking fee. All refunds take 3-5 business days to be fully processed. If you do not see the money back on your card after 5 business days please contact us so that we can get the issue fixed.
Q. Can I change my order?
A. There is a $10 fee for any change or addition.
Q. How are the supplies shipped?
A. The majority of the time we use United States Postal Service.
Q. How long does it take to receive my supplies?
A. If supplies are ordered separate from chickens they should arrive 10-21 days after we receive your payment. If supplies are ordered with live birds and can be shipped with them they will arrive 2-3 days after your ship date. If you are ordering supplies that cannot ship with live birds they should be ordered 3-4 weeks in advance so that they have ample time to arrive before your birds.
Q. Do you offer Free Shipping on supplies?
A. Yes, we offer free shipping on supplies ordered from Chickens for Backyards when shipped within the continental United States.
Q. How do I care for my chicks when I receive them?
A. Please read the care sheet: http://go.chickensforbackyards.com/chick-care-information.html We strongly recommend preparing a brooding area for your chicks BEFORE they arrive. Your new chicks will require a temperature of 99 to 101 degrees for the first day and then 95-98 for the rest of the week. Measure this with a thermometer at floor level under the heat source. The water needs to be around 98 degrees for the first 24 hours and then room temperature. Reduced the brooder temperature approximately 5 degrees each week for the first 5 weeks. After 5 weeks, your chicks will not require supplemental heat unless ambient temperatures are extremely low. Monitoring the chicks' behavior will help you better understand their heating requirements. Chicks that crowd tightly and pile on each other may be too cold, while chicks that avoid the heated area may be too warm. Use large pine shavings to line the brooder floor. DO NOT USE CEDAR SHAVINGS; cedar is toxic to chickens. In addition to a warm brooding area, your chicks will require medicated or non-medicated food and water IMMEDIATELY upon arrival. It is also recommended to have an antibiotic on handsuch as Sulfadimethozine in case of illness.
Q. What do I feed my new little chicks?
A. We recommend using medicated or non-medicated chick starter feed until they start laying and then you can switch them to a layer feed. Do not use corn because it is like candy to them and has very little nutritional value. The chick starter feed has the correct nutritional value and is the correct size as well.
Q. Can I mix different size chicks with each other?
A. This is not recommended because they will peck and bully each other. We recommend to wait until full grown to mix the birds so they can defend themselves better.
Q. Is it safe to handle poultry?
A. All live animals can be a source of harmful germs and bacteria. Therefore, precautions must be taken while caring for them. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or caring for your birds. Children must be closely supervised while handling their pets and should never be allowed to touch their faces while doing so. Chickens should also be held in a manner that makes the bird comfortable. This will reduce the chance of you getting fogged, spurred, pecked, and scratched. Never hold a bird next to your face or kiss on them either. We will include a safe handling sheet with your order as well.
Q. What does the terms straight run, pullet, hen, cockerel, stag, and cock mean?
A. When ordering straight run your birds will not be sexed. You will not know what sex you are receiving. Pullets are female birds that range in age from 1 day old to 12 months old. A hen is a female bird over 1 year of age. Cockerels are male birds that range in age from 1 day old to 12 months old. A stag is a male bird that ranges in age from 5 months old to 11 months old. A cock is a male over 1 year of age.
Q. What does “Standard (STD)” or “Bantam” mean?
A. A standard bird is the large or normal size bird. A bantam is the miniature version of that same breed.
Q. What does the term “class” mean?
A. Class is how the birds are broken down when showing birds. Standard size birds are broken down into classes based on where they originated from. For example the American Class is for birds that originated in the USA. Bantam size birds are broken down into classes based on physical characteristics. Each breed will only be listed under one class.
Q. Do you guarantee the sex of the chicks I order from you?
A. We have a 90% sexing guarantee. For errors that exceed the guarantee, we will refund the pullet price up to the 90% guarantee. Sexing errors must be reported when chicks are at least 10 weeks old but no later than 18 weeks old.
No Credit will be issued for any reasons after the birds are 18 weeks old.
Q. Why is sexing not a 100% guarantee?
A. Sexing a baby chick is not an exact science. No two chicks are identical. We use three sexing methods: color, feather, and vent. The method we use depends on the breed. The chicks are hatched and sexed the same day which means that they are very small and this sometimes leads to mistakes in what we are looking at. When you combine the sexing mistakes with human error and the 3 methods not being an exact science you are running a risk of getting a rooster (cockerel chick). The best we can do on an overall average of gender sexing is 90% accuracy.
Q. What do I do with my rooster?
A. Sexing a chicken is not an exact science. You do have the chance to receive a rooster in your order by mistake. This is a real risk and preparation for this is very important. The only three options you have for this is to keep him, butcher him, or re-home him. If you would like to keep him and reduce the noise you could try getting a No Crow Rooster Collar. They will help reduce the noise by about 70%. If you do not want to butcher him yourself, try contacting a local butcher shop. If you are going to re-home there are several places to check with "4H, FFA, a college agriculture dept., a college science dept., feed stores, local farms, animal shelters, Facebook, Craigslist, or locale newspapers. These are not all the options that you can use but they are a start.
Q. How can you tell the difference between a pullet and a cockerel?
A. Chickens can be sexed in 3 different ways; some are color sexable, some are feather sexable, and some are vent sexed by a trained professional.
Q. Do I need a rooster so my hens will lay eggs?
A. No, hens will start laying at about 4 to 6 months of age with or without a rooster. A rooster would be required if you would want fertile eggs that can hatch baby chicks.
Q. What is medicated feed?
A. Medicated feed is exactly what it says, medicated, and is used for preventing or treating disease. However, not all medicated feed has the same medications in it. The most common medications included are for Coccidiostats and/or antibiotics. If using medicated feed please follow all warning labels listed on the feed label.
Q. How much feed does it take to raise a hen?
A. Each chicken will be different. A good average form birth to first egg is 15lbs of feed for a white egg layer and 18 lbs for a brown egg layer. Standard size chickens that are 6 months old will normally consume about 1 ½ lbs of feed every week. A Cornish cross will take about 10 lbs for the first 7 weeks.
Q. When my birds are grown how much space do I need for their pen or coop?
A. We recommend about 4 square feet for every standard or large fowl chicken and 2-3 square feet for every bantam or smaller breed chicken.
Q. Do I need a roost pole for my chicks?
A. Chickens prefer to roost and will start looking for a place to roost on at a young age. They are more comfortable while sleeping if they can roost. We recommend providing them a place that is about 12 inches off the ground to start off and then gradually get higher as they get older. A normal roost for a chicken around 8 months of age is anywhere from 4-7 feet high and 1-2 inches in diameter. It is normally made out of PVC or wood. Metal is not recommended because it gets too cold in the winter.
A. Most hens are good about sharing, typically you will only need one nest or nesting box for every 5 hens.
Q. How do I know if my pullets are ready to lay?
A. Generally if they are 5-8 months of age, they have red combs, and they are singing, you should have eggs. You can pick the hen up and feel between the 2 bones of their bottom. If 3 fingers will fit between the bones they should be laying. If only 2 fingers fit between the bones then the hen will usually start to lay within 3-6 weeks.
Q. How many eggs will I get from my chickens?
A. Every chicken will have a different egg production even within the same breed. Some variables that effect this can include, but are not limited to: history of sickness, worms, care, lighting, climate, geographic location, housing condition, crowding, feed consumption, water conditions and consumption, nutritional care, bedding, sunlight availability, number of cockerels with the flock, noise condition, nesting conditions, roosting conditions, winter housing conditions, summer housing conditions, predator harassment, whether or not you are breaking up setting hens and more.
Q. Why is my egg production decreasing?
A. The first laying year for chickens is from 6-18 months of age and this is when they lay the most. Your hens will produce bigger eggs during the second laying year; however, the productions will be 10-20 percent less. During years 3 and 4 their egg production will decrease dramatically. Some owners keep a diversified laying cycle by raising new chicks each year and harvesting the oldest. This helps keep the egg production at its highest and reduces the chance for illness. It is normal for hens to go through a molt during late summer or fall and will produce very few eggs during this time.
Q. When will my hens begin to produce eggs?
A. Your chickens should start to lay between the ages of 5 and 8 months. If you do not see any eggs by 8 months of age there are several things that you can check.
- Nutrition: They should be eating egg pellets or crumble at this age because it has all the nutrients they need. You can also give them a handful of scratch each day as a treat and for exercise. Do not give them corn. The feed has all the corn they need and does not have enough nutritional value on its own to keep the chickens healthy.
- Illness: Check you chickens for light weight, paleness, worms, and lice or mite infestation.
- Activity and food: It is necessary for your hens to have food and water all day for them to produce eggs. They also need to have fresh air and sun light every day. Some people put a light in the coop during the colder months. If you do this do not leave it on all night because it will stress the birds out which can lead to picking and illness.
- Coop and nest: Your hens will be happier if you provide them with a dry ground, a wind break, and a place to roost at night. They like to have their nests in darker areas. Hens also do better when they are not overcrowded. On average they need 2-3 sq. ft. per bird.
- Rooster: If you have too many roosters your hens will be stressed out. We recommend no more than 1 rooster for every 10-15 hens.
- Predators: Animals can be very sneaky and some leave no signs. Your hens can also be a predator. If they start eating their eggs it is almost impossible to break them of it. You can use a ceramic egg to test them if you suspect they are eating their eggs. If you find a hen that is for sure eating eggs you may want to consider getting rid of her because she will teach the other hens to eat the eggs as well.
Q. My hens are broody, what should I do?
A. Make her uncomfortable. Separate her from the other hens. Try placing her in a suspended wire cage in the light for a few days.
Q. Why are my eggs changing color?
A. Sometimes the eggs will lighten during a laying cycle, however it could also be due to a lack of vitamin K. Try adding vitamin K to your hens’ diet and you should see a change in 7 days.
Q. How many hens do I need for my family?
A. On average 10 hens that are 8 months to 2 years old should lay about 7 eggs a day. Most egg layers will provide between 200-300 eggs per year on average. Keep in mind that your hens will go into a molt each year during late summer or early fall. During this time they will stop laying and grow new feathers.
Q. Are my eggs still good?
A. Generally eggs are good for 3 weeks when refrigerated the whole time. To test your eggs you can place them in a bowl of water. If they sink they are still good. If they stand on one end they are still good but getting old. If they float they are old.
Q. What are common health issues when raising juvenile poultry?
A. The most common issue is Coccidiosis and generally affects chickens 3 days old to 6 months old. This is a condition caused by the Coccidial protozoan organism, an internal parasite called Eimeria that lives in the cells that line the intestines and causes bleeding and swelling. This will also cause the birds to lose a lot of fluids and nutrients from their food will not be absorbed. If left untreated coccidiosis will cause them to die. Coccidiosis is normally only seen in young, growing chickens because older chickens develop immunity to it.
Symptoms: The first sign of this is blood, or a reddish tint in their droppings. They may also have a hunched up appearance and ruffled feathers. You will also begin to see weight loss and white diarrhea around the vent feathers.
Coccidiosis Treatment: We are aware that in the absence of licensed alternatives, veterinarians do sometimes prescribe drugs such as Coxoid under the "cascade" to treat Coccidiosis in poultry. However, it is only a veterinarian who can advise on such use and we would be in the breach of the veterinary medicines regulations and NOAH code of practice by supporting, or encouraging the use of a product on a non-target species. Coxoid is administered in water. For it to be effective, it is important to do this quickly at the first signs of Coccidiosis infection. Coxoid contains 3.84% of the drug Amprolium Hydrochloride which is a structural analogue of Thiamine (Vitamin B1). Amprolium Hydrochloride mimics its structure inhibiting Thiamine utilization by the parasite. It should be noted that Coccidiosis is not caused by bacteria and therefore does not respond to antibiotic treatment.
Q. What is molting?
A. This is a natural time of the year when your chickens grow new feathers and plumage. This normally happens late summer through fall. Your chickens will stop laying eggs during a molt. Sometimes chickens will lose feathers during the summer too, however they will still be laying eggs and will most likely be your best layers at that time. If they are doing the later this is not their molt.
Q. Why do my chickens have dried dropping on their bottoms?
A. This is most commonly called pasty butt and is normally caused by a dramatic change in temperature for long periods of time. It is blocking your chicks’ vent which causes it to not be able to relieve itself.
Treatment: You will need to wash your chickens butt with warm soapy water. It is also good to clean all waterers, feeders, and floors. You may also need to consider medication.
Q. Why do my birds peck each other?
A. By nature, some pecking is normal. However, when they pick all the feathers off or kill each other, it could be brought on by a number of reasons. They may be too crowded or too hot. You may have too much light on them, or the light is on too long in the night. Be sure you are feeding them the appropriate chicken feed, since they will peck each other if they are not getting the right nutrients.
Q. Why are my chickens fighting?
A. As with most animals your birds will need to establish a pecking order. This is very common. You will also see this when you add new birds to your flock. You will need to watch your birds closely for 1-2 days after adding new birds to make sure that they do not peck too much.
Q. How can I remove sharp spurs?
A. The safest way to do this is to hold the birds’ leg and saw off the spur ½ inches away from the leg.
Q. My hen died and her bottom is bulging. What happened?
A. Her vent may have gotten damaged from either laying too large of an egg or from laying eggs at too young of an age. This is commonly referred to as a “blow out”.
Q. What does the words “green” or “blood filled” mean?
A. These are terms used to describe your chickens’ feathers when they are still growing. The feathers still have blood in the shaft.
Q. How do I check/treat my chickens for lice?
A. Lice normally like to hide around the butt area because of the moisture. In extreme cases they will also be in the ears and under the wings. To check around the butt you will need to pick up the chicken and hold both legs with one hand. Turn the chicken over and pull back the feathers around the butt. If the chicken has lice you will see them moving.
Treatment: You will need to treat all areas on your chicken that have lice. You should also treat roost poles and the ground area. You can use “Seven” which is a garden/pet dusting powder or you can use Diatomaceous Earth for a more eco-friendly way. You should treat your chickens every 30 days for 3 months.
Chicken lice are not the same as human lice and will not stay on you. To remove any that may have gotten on you, take a hot shower after treating your chickens.
Q. What chickens are only for butchering?
A. Jumbo Cornish Cross chickens are only used for meat purposes. White or Bronze Broad Breasted Turkeys are mostly purchased for meat as well. All of these birds grow to a large size fast and will have heart attacks or leg problems if not butchered at the appropriate time.
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