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Monday, June 18, 2012

When you don't have a local hatchery

We've got 243 (as of this morning) Red Rangers in the brooder.  Why such an odd number and why is it "as of this morning"?  We were shipped 260 chicks the day they were hatched which was Wednesday.  Which means they should come on Thursday morning.  SHOULD, being the operative word.  This time they did not, which is not good.

All of our chicks come from a hatchery in Iowa.  When I was a kid, we would load up in the car and go to Minot (just over an hour away) and bring home our chicks from the hatchery.  They've been closed for quite a few years now and we have no hatcheries in our entire state.  Thus, we're forced to have our birds shipped to us.

We use Hoover's Hatchery in Rudd, IA and they are absolutely wonderful!  They know our operation, they know our schedule and they always make it work for us.  They hatch chicks very early Wednesday morning and load them on an airplane and send them out.  Chicks are remarkable little creatures:  just before they hatch, they suck their yolk sack into their bellies and that sustains them for 48 hours.  They don't need food or water during that time.  Now, the sooner you can get them into 90 degree warmth with food and water, the better.

When we get chicks on Thursday mornings, we rarely lose any.  Less than 3% is our average.  But if they don't come until Friday, it's much higher.  Those chicks have spent an extra 24+ hours in a shipping facility, on a place or truck, exposed to drafts and more hours of stress.  Those extra hours are a LOT for those little guys to take!  

Last year, one batch of our chicks was shipped in a cold, rainy spell and we lost 40% of them.  I called Hoovers on a Saturday morning and spoke to a real person about it.  This had NEVER happened to us before!  She said they were getting a lot of reports of loss because of the weather and they would replace the chicks we lost.  AWESOME!

It's dangerous having your production system depend on the postal service.  Just one day makes a HUGE difference!  And, often postal workers aren't trained to handle chicks.  The first batch we ever ordered, the lady at the post office called and said, "You've got a box of chickens here.  Should I just set them out on the porch and you can pick them up?"  YIKES!  No way!  They need to stay inside, and even then, 70 degrees is too cool.

Anyone want to start a local hatchery?  I'll be your first customer.


  1. There is a hatchery in Anamoose, but I don't know if they do broilers.

    1. I must investigate. This has the potential to be awesome!!

  2. I hear you. Our nearest hatchery is in Alberta, several hundred miles away. When I get chicks, they are hatching two days before they come to me in the mail. Despite that, they usually ship quite well, though two years ago, we did have a batch in which we lost almost half. guess we should be grateful the post office still ships chicks at all. One of these days they'll stop doing it, and then we're hooped.


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