Where for Art Thou, Chook?

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 11 May 2017

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Hello chicken keepers!

There are as many places to get chooks as there are chicken breeds, so deciding how you will get your new flock members is a bit daunting for new keepers. Fear not newbies! I am here to explain the ways in which you can acquire a fresh fluffy bum without hassle or heartache.

baby chickens in hatchery brooder under light


A hatchery is a commercial operation that makes its business hatching and selling chickens. Hatcheries usually have many different breeds and types of chicken available, from commercial layers to purebred varieties. They are a fantastic place to get some inexpensive chickens to start your chicken keeping adventure with.

However, if you’ve been eagerly doing your research, finding out everything you can about Wyandottes, or Araucanas, or Australorps then you may want to look elsewhere. The beautiful photos that you see on your searches are usually of a particular breeds ‘standard’. And while hatchery hens may somewhat resemble the breeds in question, they are very rarely ‘true’ specimens, or eligible to show. Whether this matters or not is up to you.

Hatcheries can be found in many places, and indeed some hatcheries will even deliver fertilised eggs or chicks to your home.

barnevelder chickens at chook breeder property


If you hung your head in disappointment on learning about the breeding failures of hatcheries, then you’ll want to look for a reputable breeder to get your chickens from. A breeder will have bred their flock of chickens over many generations to achieve the ‘standard’ look of their breed. Their chickens (if they’re going about it right!) will be larger, hardier and healthier than hatchery hens. They are likely to live, and lay for longer, although they will usually lay less.

Breeders are fantastic if you are passionate about a particular breed, want your chickens to look a certain way, or are looking to breed a flock of your own chickens. However, not all breeders are created equal, and the lack of any sort of accreditation means that just about anyone can call themselves a breeder. So before you pay the breeder premium, how do you know you’ve found a good one?

  • Download our breeder list and check for anyone close to you.
  • Contact your local poultry association and ask for recommendation.
  • Some breeds also have a breed association - individuals who are passionate about their breed and will point you in the right direction.

But don’t just be satisfied by a recommendation! Visit the breeder, see their chickens and the conditions they live in, and ask plenty of questions. These chooks will be with you for a while, and you want to know what you’re signing up for!

Other keepers, social networks

Believe it or not, chickens can also be found for sale through social media channels, and trading post websites. This method is something of a lucky dip, but if you do your research and choose carefully, it can be a good way of finding your chooks.

ex-battery rescue hens adopted


Ex-battery hens come at only one age - fully grown, and past their usefulness. Adopting an ex-battery hen is not for everyone. They will not give you many (or even any) eggs, and they require special care to readjust to living outside of abysmal factory conditions. However, they are an excellent opportunity to give an innocent, abused chook a chance at life. To adopt an ex-battery hen, you will need to contact your local rescue organisation and complete their application. It might be a little work, but that warm fuzzy feeling is more than worth it. To learn more about ex-battery adoption, click here.

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Feathers Forever,

Kassandra x