By now you’ve probably already started your adventure with a chicken, but then again you may still be curious what you should really be looking for when buying a new bird for your flock. Have you had bad experiences in the past or just have no reference point quite yet? Luckily, there are a few very simple things to think about and look for when purchasing a new chicken. So here’s what to look for when buying poultry.
One thing you’ll have to realize very quick is that the absolute best chickens are mostly only obtainable through your own hard work and careful breeding. While the best place to go hen or rooster shopping is absolutely a breeder’s, you’ll typically encounter a handful of birds that are great, but not the best. The reason for this varies and isn’t always true, but on average a breeder will always decide to keep the best chickens from any new generation for himself as his job revolves around continually breeding the best of the best. Go into this knowing that while you’ll get high-quality chickens, there may be one or two minor flaws, particularly if you’re trying to select a chicken that you intend to use for shows.
Knowing this, the next thing you’ll want to watch for are chickens that appear either too indifferent to you coming around or who panic far too much by your presence. You want something in the middle, preferably a hen that clucks on up to you to see what’s up or a rooster that starts crowing in your direction. Chickens should basically be comfortable around humans, and the best strains of genes already have this domesticated aspect programmed in, though there are some breeds that are naturally more shy, so be sure to know if the breed you’re looking into already has that trait beforehand.
This goes along with looking for very active chickens. Typically, when they’re on their own, you’ll want to look for the hens and cocks that scratch and peck at the ground to forage, take dirt bathes, and preening their feathers as all of these are activities that normal, healthy chickens do almost constantly lest they be in a nest laying eggs.
As for physical appearance, you’ll want to inspect the combs and wattles to make sure they’re nice and red. Usually, finding a comb or wattle that looks somewhat dull in terms of color indicates that there’s something wrong as they should normally be saturated with blood, making them strikingly red. The feathers are usually the initial giveaway regarding physical health as you’ll want them to be shiny, plentiful, and with no obvious spots where they’ve been falling out. You should also check under the feathers at the skin to see if there are any feather or skin parasites.
Also, pick the chicken up and see if you can instantly feel their sharp breastbone. If you can, it usually indicates that there s a digestive problem and as a result the bird is too skinny. Do be aware that the condition of the birds will appear bad both curing molting season and mating season. With the first, you’ll see and feel a chicken that looks out of sort, but that’s only because they’re molting. With the latter, roosters aren’t always so kind during mating, so hens may look beaten up. Be sure to ask about these conditions with the breeder.
Selecting a nice, healthy chicken is only the start toward a great farm of your own. You’ll want to breed correctly in order to raise the best possible flock, but you have to know what to look for in the beginning.
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