I now have 25 chickens and 2 ducks on the farm. You would think I would be content right? Not exactly. I loved the chickens I had but I was still wanting more. I had a few breeds that I particularly wanted; Polish and Silkies. I had also just discovered a beautiful breed called Calico Princess. During this time was when the Blue Andalusian also became an interest for my flock. The problem began to arise with not being able to get these birds at stores like TSC. We were told that we could order the birds and get the mix we wanted through mail order. I thought mail order to the store. Nope it was mail order chickens to my post office.
Make Up Your Mind!
Knowing I had options to get the mix of chickens I wanted was interesting. I had just been taking my pick of what few breeds were available. This new knowledge would let me take advantage of what ever the hatchery had in stock! I began looking online for the hatchery I thought could best meet my needs. There were a few I looked at numerous times but in the end I decided to go with Hoover’s Hatchery. They had a large assortment of birds and had the Polish available sexed. Since I wanted pullets and no roosters this helped me decide to go all in and order with them.
Choosing Our Flock
We knew when we ordered we wanted Calico Princess, Blue Andalusian, and Polish. I had done my research and decided I wanted 3 different types of the Polish. Our first planned order kept growing. All the birds were so beautiful and I wanted a mix of color when I looked out my window. Our small order ended up being a very large order. My family does not believe in doing things slow, smooth and steady. We had our cart totaling $316.49! Our cart looked like this:
- 5 Blue Andslusian
- 3 Buff Brahma
- 5 Calico Princess
- 3 Columbian Wyandotte
- 3 Dark Brahma
- 5 Lakenvelder
- 3 Light Brahma
- 5 Prairie Bluebell Egger
- 3 Buff Laced Polish
- 3 White Crested Blue Polish
- 5 Sapphire Gem
- 3 Gold Laced Polish
- 3 Silver Laced Polish
- 5 Starlight Green Egger
- 3 Silver Laced Wyandotte
- 3 Salmon Faverolle
This was a grand total of 60 birds, 16 different breeds, and a whole new learning curve I did NOT see coming! Both the buying method and raising the birds would come as a learning experience.
Order Placed Awaiting Ship Date
Mail order chickens are not like TSC chickens of course. You don’t just pay and have your chickens in hand. In fact, mail order chickens have a wait period for hatching. Then you have a wait period for transit. All of our chickens ordered were to hatch on the same day. We paid addition to this because you need to have a certain amount to ship an order and we did not want them all being separated and costing more to ship. I received a letter with our shipment notification set for August 7, 2019. Baby chicks must arrive to their new destination within 72 hours after being born. We were on the clock!
How Mail Order Chickens Work
Once you place your order for your chickens like any where else you pay and get a receipt. When your chicks ship you get another notification. You know when to look for the notification because as you order your chicks they have expected hatch date listed. You are able to track your shipment with the provided tracking number. A working phone number to reach you will be required.
Do not expect your birds to arrive on your door step. They are shipped to your local post office. Once they arrive the post office will call you to let you know (the reason you had to provide a phone number.) You need to be prepared to get to your birds as soon as possible. They do not need to stay in the shipping container any longer than they have to. The box is small. Remember they have not ate or drank this whole time in shipping. They need food and water with electrolytes. Have your brooder box or area you plan to raise them in ready for their arrival. Have your shavings already spread, a heat bulb getting the area warm, and food and water already waiting. This way as soon as you get your chicks home you can get them into their nice new cozy living space.
My Mail Order Chickens Arrival
I was so excited waiting for these chicks that I had everything possible under the sun already waiting on them. We had to build a new brooder box just for them so it was all fresh and new. This box was awesome because I could even get in it!
When the call finally came that my chicks had arrived at the post office my son and I immediately headed to town. It was early so I did not expect them to be very busy but as my luck would have it, they were. I was dancing around anxiously waiting for the woman ahead of us to get done. You could hear the chicks chirping all the way out front.
Finally, I was able to approach the desk. She was more than happy to give me my baby chicks. It should have been smooth sailing from here but that is not how my luck goes. I only had one box of chicks. The shipping confirmation had stated there would be two. In fact, this was box two. I asked if that was the only box and sadly it was. My other chicks would not be available for pick up until the next day.
You can imagine my dismay. I knew this meant more hours in transit and less chance of healthy babies arriving. If you have not raised baby chicks you do not know the struggle of trying to keep little ones strong and healthy the first couple of weeks of their lives. It is tough. My job just became 50 times tougher. I knew this would drop my survival rate.
baby chicks eating and playing
baby chicks eating
Getting My Mail Order Chickens Home
No time to dwell on the negative though. I had a box of tiny birds to get home and get out of that little box! They sounded strong and ready to take on the world. Since I had never did this before I decided to do a bird unboxing video on my Facebook page. My son was my camera man as I set out to free the chicks!
The baby birds loved their big box. After their introduction to food and water they were allowed to run and play as they pleased. They were checking everything out. They were so cute and adorable. The first shipment of chicks had gone smoothly.
The Box of Missing Chicks
The next morning my phone was ringing telling me that there was a box of chickens waiting for me. I could come any time to pick them up. I didn’t even have to wait until they opened at 9, just come in and ring the bell. One again we made our way to the post office. I was excited to get the last of my birds. When I got the box I had my doubts that all was well in paradise. Baby chicks smell but not usually like buzzards should be swarming. There were also chirps so I knew that not everyone was in horrible condition.
Getting Home Part 2
Since these chicks didn’t smell the best I did not want to do an unboxing video. I was pretty sure that smell was my worst fear and I just didn’t want to show the ugly side of the farming life. Unfortunately I was correct. 4 of the baby chicks in this shipment were dead on arrival. Another baby chick was alive but just barely. I separated it from the others and gave it it’s own food and water. I even made sure it was drinking by helping it to get water. Realistically the odds were against it but I was going to give it the best fighting chance I could.
In the end reality won. I lost that little chick plus another one. The one day in shipment made a huge difference in my chickens. Since it was the weekend there was nothing I could do but wait until Monday and call the hatchery. I really couldn’t blame them for the problem since they had fulfilled their duty but I did want to know if there was anything I could do and alert them to the separation of my order.
Calling the Hatchery
By the time Monday rolled around I had lost 10 baby chicks. I was heartbroken at the loss. I found the number and gave Hoovers a call. They were simply the best to work with. The lady was super nice. She tried to help me identify the chicks I had lost. I had two options to choose from since I lost some of my chicks. I could either order a few more and they would replace my loss or I could get my money back. She told me how sorry she was for my loss and explained she had no idea why the boxes had become separated.
I did not want to mix younger chicks in with the ones I had so I chose to just get my money back on the loss. It was a simple process and showed back up on my card quickly. Working with Hoover Hatchery was a pleasure. I feel they did what they could to make everything right. I would have rather all my birds been great but at least they didn’t throw me to the wolves and tell me there was nothing they could do. If I ever do mail order chickens again I would definitely put them at the top if my list for ordering.
In Closing…Mail Order Chickens Yay or Nay
I did not have the best of luck with mail order chickens. The process is a little odd. It is a pretty big risk you take. I hate the thoughts of tiny chickens moving through the mail system but it is the same way the big companies get their birds to sell too. It is done every day.
Right now I can’t say I want to do it again. Truthfully, I feel like I have better luck just buying my birds from a local store during Chick Days. The freedom to get what I wanted was pretty nice though. I think I might have abused that freedom a bit.
I still want about 3 Silkies. Honestly, I am considering buying those from a farm not to far from where I live. I have not found any other way to get Silkies sexed. I can get them a bit older and be sure I get hens. Apparently they are almost impossible to sex as chicks because I can not find any place that sells them any way other than straight run. I would also love to replace my Gold and Silver Laced Polish. Yes, I lost all 6 of them before it was all said and done. Who knows maybe I will get lucky and TSC or Rural King will have them available this year. I am also hoping to find a few more female ducks. Still growing the farm and loving every minute of it!
Readers Chime In
Now I would love to get to know my readers a little better. Do you have any ducks or chickens? If so share a bit of your story. Where did you get yours? Ever tried mail order chickens? What breeds do you have? Please leave your stories, comments, or questions in the comments below.
If you should need to contact me directly you can do that at Contact Rhonda at Saving-Sanity.
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