And hatcheries to avoid.
There are a lot of sites out there that promise to send you happy, healthy, chirping chicks through the mail. To some, this is a little out there, but to those that are serious about raising chickens it’s a fact of life. Many hatcheries are now offering a lowered minimum for people that can’t or don’t want to order 25 or more chicks.
But which sites are telling you the truth? Are there any that appear to be hatcheries, but aren’t? Who can you safely order from? What time of year is safest? And just what is ‘drop shipping?
I know I’ve mentioned this a few times so far and I know you’re probably wondering what this is, right? Drop shipping is a commonly used practice by more than just poultry sites. With drop shipping, sellers don’t actually have an item in stock. This sort of thing gets sellers banned from eBay all the time.
With poultry sites it’s a bit different. Most of the time the drop shipper has a contract or permission from the hatchery/ies they use to get chicks to you. In some cases the price is the same as ordering from the hatchery (I honestly don’t get the point) and in other cases the prices are jacked up so the site can make money off the sale. And sometimes hatcheries will have more orders than they can handle and will ship from other hatcheries.
It’s not necessarily bad, but when the site or hatchery doesn’t tell you they have this policy it’s highly dishonest. It can mean life or death for the chicks if the hatchery or site doesn’t take distance into consideration.
So which sites drop ship?
My Pet Chicken
The first site that comes to mind is My Pet Chicken. Don’t bother trying to find out where they ship from by searching their site. It’s pointless. They do everything possible to tell you that they are the ones sipping chicks to you, even though it isn’t true. They are the most dishonest drop shipping site. As far as I (and many others) have been able to tell, MPC ships from Meyer, but I’ll take a bit more about them later. MPC uses a few pictures from Meyer’s site, which is part of why I know they ship from them. Need an example? Check it out. This also shows the price jacking I was talking about.
We still don’t know if the eggs they ship come from their own birds or not. If anyone can shed some light on that, I’d appreciate it!
This site has come a long way since it was started. Unlike MPC, eFowl actually lets you know they ship from other places, because they aren’t a hatchery. I like the fact that they do this, but I’d much rather order directly through the hatchery itself. eFowl is worst about price jacking. They also use drawn pictures, followed by the hatchery’s picture for each bird, a practice that is more likely to run customers(like myself) off. The following pictures are of the hatcheries eFowl ships from, as well as the comparison.
Hatcheries are guilty of drop shipping as well. Welp, Hoover, and several others will ship from other hatcheries if they don’t hatch enough chicks to fill all their orders. This can result in a hatchery being chosen just because they have the chicks available. Not because they’re closer to you.
So, who can you trust to send out your order from their own farm? Small hatcheries will always ship their own stock. Ever try to order from Sand Hill Preservation? It’s extremely difficult to get an order through to them due to only shipping what they can hatch. Papa Brooder (Papa’s Poultry) only ships what he has available. Boggy Bottom specializes in bantam breeds.
As far as large hatcheries go, Cackle and Meyer are the only ones I know of that don’t drop ship. I’ve only ordered from Meyer and I had had a good experience with them.
Watch the Weather
You should always check the weather where your chicks are coming from as well as along the route. Too cold or too hot could spell the end for your chicks. You should take the same precautions when ordering hatching eggs.
Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid to write this. I included links to hatcheries I know to be trustworthy. I either know the owners through other sites or I know people that have had great success with them. In this case, I know Papa Brooder through Backyard Chickens, I know the owner of Boggy Bottom Bantams through the same site, and know people that have ordered from them.
Know a reputable hatchery that deserves recognition? Let me know about them in the comments!