If you’re looking for chickens, local feed stores or local poultry associations are great places to find healthy chicks. Hatcheries are also a good option but may have restrictions on the minimum number of chicks you can purchase.
While all fluffy chicks look adorable, they may not all be healthy and safe to bring home. For this reason, chickens should only be bought from reputable sources. But not to worry! If a source is a member of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), you can rest easy knowing your new addition is egg-cellent. The NPIP is a cooperative testing and certification program that makes sure that poultry meets certain vaccination and health standards before being sold. Curious to see which hatcheries and farms have a clean status in your state? Use this map resource to find out.
It is especially important to check that your source vaccinates chicks on the day that they hatch for both Marek’s disease and coccidiosis.
Marek’s disease virus is a very common, highly contagious and fatal disease that can be found in any environment where there have ever been poultry birds on the property or nearby. It typically will infect young birds and it can take several months before birds show any symptoms and/or die. Marek’s disease is not treatable.
Poultry Coccidiosis is a highly contagious parasitic disease which affects the intestinal tract of poultry and can be fatal to them.
If you’re thinking about buying a mature bird at a trade show or over the internet, it’s important to isolate your bird for 30 days to make sure they aren’t carrying any viruses that can be passed to existing birds. Isolation entails keeping the bird at a minimum 6 feet away from your other birds for the entire 30 day duration. If they get sick during this period of time, contact a local avian veterinarian for advice.