Q. How can I reach you if I have any questions?

A. For immediate assistance send your questions or comments to sales@chickensforbackyards.com.

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 your town (in city limits) for any restriction.  Generally, there are no restrictions for counties. It is always good to be a good neighbor and make sure you do not have a noisy crowing rooster, or a coop that needs cleaned as the smell may bothersom. 

Q. How much is shipping on my order of baby chicks?

A. Shipping charges are based on the quantity of chicks ordered.

3 to 14 Chicks: $34.99

15 or more Chicks: $19.99

Additional $25 will be charged for shipments outside the continental United States, and a three week lead time is required for those shipments.  No shipments will be made outside of the United States.

We do ship to Puerto Rico

Please note that turkeys, guineas and ducks are restricted from shipping to Hawaii.  

We ONLY ship live orders through the US Postal Service.  Other carriers do not handle baby chick shipments.

Q. How do the birds survive being shipped by mail?

A. Newly hatched poultry have a 3 day supply of yolk left in their system to provide for them the first 3 days of life.  Mail travel is usually 2-3 day delivery. Also, the first 3 days of life, the chicks have a great immune system to adapt to the changing temperature during travel.  We also pack the chicks differently depending on the time of year and 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. It is recommended you order 2-6 weeks prior to the date you would like them delivered.  Once your order is received, we look for the earliest possible date that we can ship all breeds listed on your order.  We then secure that date, reserving those birds for your order, and send you a confirmation of your hatch/ship date.

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. If you placed an order for live birds please allow 5-7 business days so we may coordinate the hatch date for the birds you selected.  Once the hatch date is coordinated, you will be notified via e-mail with the ship date for your order. Your baby birds should arrive at your local post office 2-3 days after their ship date.

We will do everything we can to accommodate the time period you've requested your order to ship, but please consider the delicate nature of working with live animals and incubation.

We ship no later in the week than Wednesday, for arrival no later than Saturday. Your local post office will typically contact you by phone once they arrive.  We recommend your birds are picked up immediately upon notification.  Shipments not picked up from the post office in a timely fashion will be considered abandoned and are not eligible for refund or reshipment.

You should be very flexible around the delivery date so you can take your birds immediately to your brooder to be warmed up, so they will start eating and drinking.

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 guarantee your ordered number of birds arrive healthy and true to breed.  Please contact us within immediately should any losses or variances to your order occur, so we may replace your birds or reimburse you.  Reshipments 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. The day the order is taken by phone, internet, or mail ordered received.  In order for us to book birds in advance and take them off the market we must have the birds paid for.  

If you should have to cancel your order, then there is a 2-3 business day timeframe for the refund to be put back onto the credit card.

Q. Can I change my order?

A. There is a $10 fee for any change or addition. 

Q. How are the chicken supplies shipped?

A. Most chicken supplies are shipped UPS Ground but occasionally we will ship via USPS if the item weighs less than a pound.

Q. How long does it take to receive my chicken supplies?

A. Supplies sometimes come in separate boxes or from separate shipping locations, so you may receive them over a number of days.  Normally, your supplies arrive to your delivery address within 10-21 days of the time we receive your paid order.  Supplies required for baby chicks should be ordered well in advance (3-4 weeks) of your chicks' ship date.

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. Why do you advertise Randall Burkey Company on your website?

A. As a hatchery, it's our mission to focus on hatching and safely shipping baby chicks. Randall Burkey Company has been around since 1947 providing quality poultry products and excellent customer service. Randall Burkey has a complete line of everything you need to raise chickens.

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. Feed only chick starter.  It is formulated for all the right nutrition the birds need and it's made the right size for the birds to eat the feed.

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. Live animals and pets can be a source of potentially harmful micro-organisms, germs, (including Salmonella) and bacteria. Therefore, precautions must be taken when handling and caring for them to prevent fecal/oral transmission among people.  Children should be supervised as they handle animals and pets to make sure they don't put their hands or fingers in their mouth, nose or eyes.  Always wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling any animal or pet.  You should always hold or handle a chicken in a proper way to prevent an accidental flogging/spurring, accidental pecking in the eye or wing flapping that scratches your eye.  

Q. What is the difference between cockerel, cock, stag, pullet, hen and straight run?  

A. Cockerels are males from 1 day old to 12 months old. A cock is a male over 1 year old. A stag is a male 5-11 months of age.

Pullets are females from 1 day old to 12 months old. A hen is over 1 year old.

Straight Run is a term for males and females mixed as they hatch and are not separated.  Generally 100 straight run chicks will give you 50 pullets and 50 cockerels on average.

Q. What is the terminology "Standard (STD)" or "Bantam" mean?  

A. In a short answer a Standard breed is the large version of the breed/variety and a Bantam breed is the miniature version of the Standard breed.

Q. What is meant by Class? 

A. For Showing, all poultry are broken down into what are referred to as classes. For large fowl, the Classes are named after the area the birds originated in. American Class refers to birds which originated in the USA, Asiatic Class refers to birds which originated in Asia, and so on for the English Class, Mediterranean Class, Continental Class and the All Other Standard Breed Class.

For Bantams, classes are named after physical characteristics. These are Game Bantams, Single Comb Clean Legged, Rose Comb Clean Legged, All Other Comb Clean Legged, and Feather Legged Classes. Every breed will be listed in only 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. How do you know what are pullets or cockerels? 

A. Some of our breeds are color sexable, some of our breeds are bred so the males and females produce as chicks a long wing feather or a short wing feather for male or female and then some of our breeds are vent sexed by a professional chick sexer.

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 for growing chickens? 

A. Poultry feeds are available with several types of medications for preventing or treating diseases.  Coccidiostats and/or antibiotics are the two most common medications added to feeds.

Coccidiosis is hard to control by sanitation practices alone.  It is best prevented by feeding a coccidiostat, which is a drug added to feed at low levels and fed continuously to prevent Coccidiosis.  Feed broilers a ration containing a coccidiostat until the last week before slaughtering.  Feed an unmedicated feed during this last week.

Mature chickens develop a resistance to Coccidiosis if allowed to contract a mild infection of the disease.  Birds raised for placement in the laying flocks are fed a coccidiostat feed until about 16 weeks of age.  The medicated feed is then replaced with a nonmedicated feed.  Spotty outbreaks of the disease can be controlled by treating the water with an appropriate coccidiostat.  Examples of coccidiostats added to the ration include Monensin Sodium, Lasalocid, Amprolium and Salinomycin. 

Antibiotics may also be added to some poultry feeds.  Antibiotics aid broiler performance and maintain healthy birds.  They are usually added at low (prophylactic) levels to prevent minor diseases and produce faster, more efficient growth.  High (therapeutic) levels are usually given in water or injected into the bird.  Examples of antibiotics fed in the feed are penicillin, Bacitracin, Chlortetracycline, and Oxytetracycline.

Follow the recommended medication withdrawal periods before eating meat or eggs from the treated birds.  Follow all warning instructions listed on the feed label.

Q. How much feed does it take to raise a hen?  

A. As a guide it takes about 15 lbs of feed to raise a white egg layer pullet (from chick to first egg), an estimated 18 lbs of feed to raise a brown egg layer pullet (from chick to first egg) and approximately 10 lbs of feed to raise a Cornish cross broiler to 7 weeks of age. When a standard size chicken (example: Rhode Island Red hen) is at 6 months of age it will consume 1.5 lbs of feed weekly.

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 my chicks need a roost pole? 

A. Most chickens are more comfortable to sleep on a roost rather than the floor. As young chicks they stay on the floor, but soon start looking for a place to jump to or roost. We recommend for chicks to set up some poles about 12 inches off the floor and periodically raise the poles after all the chicks have mastered that height. Depending on the breed at 8 months of age you can keep the pole height about 4-7 feet high. 1-2 inch diameter round poles work well and you can use PVC or wooded poles depending on bantams or standard sizes. Metal poles are not good (metal conducts the cold too much in winter). Some chicken types do not like to roost like the Silkie. Most chicken roost and a roost pole should be available for your chickens. 

Q. How many nests/nest holes should I provide for my hens to lay eggs in?

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 should I expect?

A.  Egg production can vary from one person's experience to another.  Variables 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.

Six to eighteen months is considered the first laying year. The second laying year, the hens usually lay a little bigger egg, however, production will be 10%-20% less. The third and fourth year can dramatically decrease. Most owners will harvest the hens after 1-2 years of production and start over with young stock. This is the most economical strategy (less feed consumption) and keeps disease issues down. One might raise young chicks each year so 1/2 the flock are young pullets and the other 1/2 are last year’s pullets.  Keeping a diversified laying cycle going gives you the best chance at keeping up the average number of eggs per week you get. Generally, in the late summer or fall hens will do a natural molting process and produce very few eggs during this time.

Q. My hens are not laying yet, why is this? 

A. Most breeds will start to lay at 5-8 months of age. If not, you can check several things. You need to feed them at this age with "egg pellets or crumble". It has everything they need. Maybe throw a hand full of scratch a day for a treat and make them scratch for exercise. Stay away from corn, as there is already the right amount of corn in the egg pellets. There is not enough nutrition within corn to keep chickens healthy. Make sure the chickens are not sick, light weight, pale faced, wormy, lice and mite infested. Make sure the hens get some sun light and some fresh air each day. Make sure they have dry ground, wind breaks and a place to roost at night. Hens need full water and feed available all day to produce eggs. If it is fall, winter or early spring you can put one light on the birds at night with an automatic timer to turn on at 5:00 a.m. and go off at 10:00 p.m. Do not keep the light on all night, it will stress the birds and they will pick feathers and get sick. Have their nest in the darker area of the coop so the hens feel good about laying in the nest. Make sure the hens are not too crowded in the pen or coop and if you have roosters with the hens, don't have more than 1 rooster to every 10 hens.

Sometimes, the hens are laying, but you may have predators eating your eggs. Also, you may have a hen that is eating eggs and the shell. If you think this is happening, watch for hens pecking at eggs. If you find one hen that you suspect, put her up and see if your egg numbers increase. Once a hen starts to eat eggs, you very seldom can break her of the habit.  It may be best to get rid of her, as she will also teach the other hens to break eggs.

Q. I have several broody hens that are not laying and want to stay on the nest?  

A. You need to break them up if you want them to continue to lay.  It is hard to break a hen of this, but you could try to keep her in a separate wire cage in the light.  In other words, make it uncomfortable for her, and do this for 3-5 days.

Q. Why would my egg colors vary?

A. In general egg shell tint will change throughout each hen's laying cycle and go from darker tint brown chicken eggs to a lighter tint.  However, the most noticeable lighter tint change is generally due to lack of Vitamin K in the hen's diet.  Add Vitamin K to the hen's diet to darken up the natural shell tint.  You will usually see results in 7 days.

Q. How many hens do I need to produce enough eggs for my family?  

A. As a guide, 10 hens age 8 months to 2 years old will provide about 7 eggs a day.  Most females will go into a molt for 2-3 months each year around late summer/early fall. This is a time they stop laying and grow new feathers.  Our brown egg layers after 5-8 months of age should provide 200-300 eggs per hen over 365 days. 

Q. How do I tell if my eggs are fresh to eat? 

A. Refrigerate eggs up to 3 weeks from the day they are laid and they should stay fresh.  You can test an egg by putting it in a dish of cold water.  Fresh eggs sink and older eggs will float.  Also, when older eggs are broken into a pan, the white and yolk will flatten or run. Fresh eggs are firm when broken into a pan.

Q. What are the most common health issues raising juvenile poultry? 

A. Coccidiosis is a common and natural chick condition caused by the Coccidial protozoan organism, an internal parasite called Eimeria. These live inside the cells that line the birds intestine. As they reproduce, they cause bleeding and swelling in the intestines. Birds lose a lot of liquid and can not absorb nutrients from their food and will soon die if left untreated. Coccidiosis normally only infects young (growing) chickens. Older birds will build up an immunity over time and has no adverse affects to their health.

Symptoms: blood or (reddish tint) in droppings is usually the first sign. Ruffled feathers, a hunched up appearance, weight loss and a white diarrhea around vent feathers are the next signs to appear. Can affect chickens 3 days of age to 6 months of age in general.

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. Each year, chickens go through a molt in late summer or fall and begin growing new feathers and plumage.  Sometimes a lot of new feathers are grown and sometimes just a few.  Keep in mind that in the spring and summer your ugliest hens (a lot of missing feathers) are most times your best layers. Chickens molting usually will not lay eggs during their molting time.

Q. Why do some of my chicks have dried droppings stuck to their bottoms (Pasty butt)? 

A. It is best to wash it off with warm soapy water.  It blocks the chick's vent and the chick can not eliminate itself.  If it persists, you may need to consider medications, cleaning the waterers, feeders and the floor area.  Chicks that have been chilled or overheated can cause pasty butts.

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. My chickens seem to fight each other? 

A. Most chickens will peck or fight a little to establish a pecking order within a flock and this is common.  If you add new birds to a pen they will fight or peck a little to establish a new pecking order and it is recommended to keep a watch on them for the first 1-2 days. After that, it should be easy sailing for raising baby chickens. 

Q. What should I do about sharp spurs that might harm someone?  

A. Hold the bird's leg and use a hack saw to saw off the spur.  Saw 1/2 inch away from the leg so there is a blunt 1/2 inch spur left on the bird.

Q. I have a hen that died and her butt bottom is bulging or hemorrhage? 

A. Could be the hen had a "blow out". Vent damaged caused by laying a huge egg, or could be damage caused by the pullet laying at too young of an age.

Q. What is "green" or "blood filled"? 

A. Terms that mean that the chicken's feathers are still growing and the feathers still have blood in the feather shaft.

Q. How do I treat my chickens for lice? 

A. To see if your poultry has lice, pick up the chicken, holding both legs with one hand and tip the chicken upside down.  Pull the feathers back around the butt area to look for lice.  The lice stay around the butt area for moisture and if you see any running around the base of the feathers then you need to treat them.  One easy way is to buy some "Seven" garden/pet dusting powder at your local farm store.  Use about a tablespoon of the dusting powder and cover the base of the feathers and skin in about a 2 inch radius of the butt area.  Do this every 30 days for 3 months.  In extreme cases, you will find parasites in the ears and under the wings. In this case, treat these areas also. It is also a good idea to treat the roost poles and ground area to maintain control of the parasites.  Chicken lice will not want to stay on humans and are different from human lice.  After treating your fowl for lice, simply take a good long shower to remove any chicken lice that might be on you or in your hair. You can also use Diatomaceous Earth for a more eco-friendly way to treat your chicken.

Q. What birds should only be bought for butchering? 

The Jumbo Cornish Cross is the best chicken to raise for meat. Also, White Broad-Breasted Turkey and our Bronze Broad-Breasted Turkey will not survive long if not butchered.  They grow too fast and too big and will have heart attacks and/or leg problems.


Links:

Laws Regarding Keeping Chickens by City
City Laws  click to visit

Poultry Supplies
Randall Burkey Company  click to visit
 
Publications
Backyard Poultry Magazine  click to visit