Shipping Questions:

Q? Phone Line Is Busy/Internet Confirmed Ship Date
A.  We are sorry if you encounter a busy signal on the phone. We have moved into a larger office, updated our phone system with more lines, and increased our staff. We do apologize if you have trouble getting through. Internet orders are processed in the order received. When ordering through the website you will receive an immediate e-mail response notifying you that your order has been received. It will include your order number. Please refer to this number if you call or e-mail about your order. You will receive a second e-mail within 5-10 minutes that includes your ship date. If the e-mail address you listed on your order is correct and you have not heard from us in 10 days, check that your spam program has not blocked our e-mail. We are hatching 140,000 birds weekly and securing your order and hatch/ship date is done as quickly as humanly possible. 90% of your questions can be answered by this page and also our GUARANTEES/POLICIESpage.

Q? Why is my ship date being moved?
A.  You’ve heard the expression “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Well, at Cackle Hatchery® our business demands for us to count our chickens before they hatch and to make it even harder our business demands we count (estimate) our chickens before the eggs are even laid. We fulfill 95% of the shipping dates we give you for your orders and we apologize if you should be one of the few customers who encounter a delay in the shipment of your chick order. You will be notified by email of your new rescheduled ship date. We thank you for your business and hope we earn your business. Sincerely, Smith Family

Q? Do the customers pay for shipping of baby chicks? 
A.  Yes, most all of our packages of baby chicks you must pay a shipping/handling fee, but there are a few chick packages that are not charged this ship/handling fee. Internet orders automatically figure your shipping/handling fee for you with online orders. Mail-in orders or phone orders use our shipping chart. The shipping/handling fee covers postage to your Post Office, shipping box, padding, nesting, any heater or Hydro Aid, supports 5 Cackle Hatchery climate controlled delivery box trucks to the airport or regional centers, 2 postal computers/support cost and provides for the Cackle Hatchery live arrival guarantee. Most of our supplies, books, incubators, brooders, and medications are FREE shipping when an order is $25 or more. Supply orders for Alaska, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands will require additional fees for shipping.

Q? What is my estimated cost to ship baby chicks to me?
A.  Here is a rough estimate of cost for shipping and handling: For 15-300 birds Step 1: 25.00 flat fee Step 2: 15-100 x $0.27 per bird charge. 101-150 x $0.25 per bird charge, 151-300 x $0.23 per bird charge. Step 3: 25.00 + per bird charge= shipping cost. Example 15 birds is 29.05, 25 is 31.75, 50 is 38.50, 100 is 52.00. All orders with less than 15 total birds will be charged an additional 20.00 small order fee. Each additional 300 birds is an additional 25.00 flat rate. During hot weather, we may need to spread the birds into more bundles and an additional flat rate fee of 25.00 may be required even if under 300 birds.

Q? How far in advance should I book my order of chicks?
A. As soon as you know when and how many you want to order you should go ahead and book your order. We start taking orders in mid-December to be booked and shipped for any time between Feb.-Sept. See Calendar. You can pick your desired ship date when you checkout. It is common practice to order 2-6 weeks before the date you want for delivery. When we receive your order, we look for the earliest possible date for ALL of your breeds requested and are available together. Some breeds (rare turkeys, guineas, ducks, geese, and game birds) are not available til later in the year. Customers can consider ordering the chicken orders on a separate orders for a possible earlier delivery time. We then secure that date and take those birds off the market for sale and send you a confirmation of your hatch/ship date. Because live newly hatched chicks become perishable the day they hatch, it is necessary to have them all sold well before their hatch date. Newly hatched chicks have their three day supply of yolk still in their system to sustain them for their trip to your home. Cackle hatches 110,000 -140,000 poultry per week and we do a pretty good job of counting our chicks before they hatch when we secure your order.

For RUSH orders, we recommend you to call us and tell us it is OKAY to substitute similar kinds in the event we are short on one or two of your requested breeds rather than postponing to another ship/hatch date. When we receive your order, we look for the earliest possible date for ALL of your breeds requested and are available.

Q? When will my supplies arrive? 
A. Supplies sometimes come in separate boxes or from separate shipped locations and you may receive your supplies over several days and not all on the same delivery date. Normally your supplies ordered from Cackle Hatchery® arrive to your delivery address within 10-21 days from the time we receive your paid order. Orders are shipped by postal service, UPS and other carriers and most generally require someone to sign a delivery receipt before the item will be left at the delivery address. All supplies to be used with your new chicks purchased from Cackle Hatchery® need to be ordered well in advance (3-4 weeks) of your chick ship date.

Q? How do you ship your chickens? 
A. We ONLY ship through the US Postal Service. Other carriers do NOT handle baby chick shipments.

Q? Do you ship internationally? 
A. No. We ONLY ship to locations in the United States.

Q? How do the chicks stay alive when travelling in the mail?  
A. The first few days baby chicks are living off of their yolk sac leftovers. This allows the USPS to deliver in enough time within the US and why we don’t ship internationally. The chicks will be hungry and thirsty when they arrive which is why it is so important to read the care instructions and to already have a place for them setup and ready.

Q? Can I make changes to my order or add more birds to my order?
A. Unfortunately, due to our new ordering system, we can no longer make any changes to orders. Orders must be canceled and will be refunded as soon as possible and you will have to place another order with the changes you are needing to make. We cannot guarantee your original ship/hatch date for the revised order. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Q? Female Baby Chick Sexing Guaranteed *90% (Unless noted differently in bird description). 
A. Example: We guarantee on a 100 paid female baby chick order that you will receive at least 90 female baby chicks (assuming all the chicks survived to be counted). If we make an error and we did not live up to our stated guarantee, we will refund the female baby chick purchase price on under 90%. In other words, if you have over 10% that are roosters in your female baby chick order (including any extras that were sent with your order) we should be able to refund at female baby chick price over the 10%. Claims must be sent directly to us when chicks are not more than 8 months old. We can no longer accept claims when the birds are older than this. We have one of the best rated and multiple genders selecting methods in the industry, however, still it is only about 90% accurate and it is not a perfect science. It is recommended that you give some thought to the possibility of receiving 10% males and what you would need to do under the circumstance. We do not have any guarantees on percentages on males or females for not sexed/straight run chicks. We do not offer sexing on all of the breeds we sell, for these breeds it is either too hard on them or the professional sexers’ accuracy is not good enough and could cause customer dissatisfaction. Please check out our blog Planning Your Spring Chick Order on our blog page

A. Any orders placed and then canceled will have a $10.00 fee deducted from the total purchase and shipping price. The difference will be refunded by check if paid by check and if paid by credit card will have the credit card credited back the difference. The rationale for the fee: Orders paid for/booked are taken off the market for sale and are marked sold and we potentially could have a lost opportunity for a buyer if canceled. Canceled orders create bookkeeping and labor cost to process the canceled order, labor to recalculate deletions and adding back on the sell sheets, along with postage or credit card fees to process credits. Our chicks’ pricing is not formulated for a canceled order cost. We do make exceptions for the fee due to emergencies. We can also move a ship date to another date; however, every effort should be made to be prepared to receive your chicks on your given date. Refunds are processed ASAP, but on busy rare occasions can take up to 3 weeks to be completed. It is common practice for customers to order their poultry 2-8 weeks in advance of the time they would like them delivered. Because live new chicks become perishable the day they hatch, it is necessary to have them all sold well before their hatch date. Newly hatched chicks have their 3 day supply of yolk still in their system to sustain them for their trip to your home. We ship every Monday and Wednesday and your birds should arrive at your post office or mailing address within 2 days. Your confirmation notice will give you your hatch/ship date. You should be very flexible around your delivery date so you can take your birds immediately to your brooder to be warmed up so they will go to eating and drinking. See our care sheet and preparation. No orders can be canceled to 48 hours prior to your ship date.

Q? How do the birds survive being shipped by mail?
A. Newly hatched poultry have a 3 day supply of yolk left in their system to provide for them the first 3 days of life. Mail travel is usually a 2-3 day delivery. Also the first 3 days of life the chicks have a great immune system to adapt to the changing temperature during travel. We also pack the chicks differently depending on the time of year and current travel conditions.

Q? Where do you ship poultry to?
A. We ship to the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands.

Q? Special Requirements for Shipping to Hawaii:  At this time we are not shipping to Hawaii.
A. They are as follows: Hawaii orders must be placed at least 2-3 weeks in advance and we can only ship chickens. We do not ship turkey, waterfowl and other poultry to the state of Hawaii. There is a $25 non-refundable processing fee for all Hawaii orders. The order must have at least $100 worth of birds, not counting the processing fee or shipping charges. We do not offer reships to Hawaii. No changes can be made to orders after they are put in for a permit. We are no longer shipping to Hawaii at this time.

Q? Additional $25 fee on shipping to Alaska: 
A. This is an additional non-refundable $25.00 fee for orders shipped to Alaska. This fee is to help offset some overall expenses we continue to incur servicing Alaska orders. As far as our 100% live arrival guarantee goes, any losses called in within the proper time frame will be refunded only. We will not be offering any reships to Alaska. You may start a brand new order if you choose to get any replacement birds, but you will be charged normal ship/handling costs plus the non-refundable $25.00 fee.

Q? Special Requirements for the State of Rhode Island:
A. Rhode Island requires that your order include a total of at least 12 birds.

Q? What days are chicks shipped from Cackle Hatchery®? 
A.  We ship every Monday and Wednesday from Feb.–Aug and every Wednesday from Aug-Late Sept. See Calendar.

Q? What are your minimums for orders? 
A. Our minimum number of birds for an order to ship is 3Our minimum order on chickens is 3 per breed per color on Straight Run and Females and 1 on Males. For bantams and guineas, the minimum is 5 per breed per color. No minimums on turkey, geese, and ducks if shipped with other birds to make at least 3 total birds ordered. All orders with less than 15 total birds will be charged normal shipping costs and an additional small order fee of 20.00. Bobwhite Quail eggs have a minimum order of 100 to ship. Ringneck Pheasant has a minimum of 35 chicks to ship. The Chukar Partridge has a minimum of 50 chicks to ship.

Q? Will the post office deliver our chicks to us at our home or do we need to go to the post office to pick them up?
A.  We put on your shipping box all the phone numbers you gave to us and we instruct the post office to call you to come and pick them up at the post office. You should call the post office in the morning you expect the delivery of the chicks. Delivery can be 1-3 days. Be sure you or someone is available for the anticipated day and days around the arrival date and that you have someone to care for chicks the first 24 hours in the brooder.

Q? Does Cackle Hatchery® guarantee live delivery of my order?
A.  We guarantee that you will receive a full count of live, healthy poultry according to this guarantee.*Except peafowl and ornamental pheasants*Generally, we give extra chicks with orders to help fulfill this guarantee. However, if losses should occur in shipment and you do receive less live chicks than you ordered and paid for, we will adjust either by replacing poultry or by refund at the discretion of the hatchery. Please open chick boxes immediately and inspect poultry. If your shipment is INSURED and you do not have a full count of live chicks that you paid for, please ask the delivery agent to sign your statement of loss (PS form 1000) and send it to us immediately.

If your shipment was NOT INSURED and you have a loss, then call us within 24 hours with a final live count of your poultry for an adjustment. This guarantee is only for the safe and live delivery of your poultry. Any loss must be reported to the hatchery within 1 day of receipt for any adjustment to be made.

Q? What states have restrictions on mail-order poultry orders?
A.  Hawaii requires extra paperwork and permits and we charge an additional fee for shipping chicks to Hawaii. We need the order placed at least one week in advance and there is a $25 processing fee. We are no longer shipping to Hawaii at this time. The order must have at least $100 worth of birds to qualify. Missouri Residents require a permit for Bobwhite Quail and Ringneck Pheasant orders for pick-up or mail orders. Your permit number must be on your order form.

Egg and Chicken Questions:

Q? Egg Production
A.  Egg production can vary from one person’s experience to another person’s experience. The differences can be many and wide. Variables can include and not exclusive to: history of sickness, wormy, care, lighting, climate, geographic location, housing condition, crowding, feed consumptions, water conditions and consumptions, nutritional care, bedding, sunlight availability, number of cockerels with the flock, noise conditions, nesting conditions, roosting conditions, winter housing conditions, summer housing conditions, predator harassment, whether or not you are breaking up setting hens and other conditions. Six months – eighteen months is considered the first laying year. The second laying year the hens usually lay a little bigger egg, however, production will be 10%-20% less. The third and fourth years can dramatically decrease. Most owners will harvest the hens after 1-2 years of production and start over with young stock. This is the most economical strategy (less feed consumption) and keeps the disease issue down. So one might raise young chicks each year so 1/2 the flock are young pullets and the other 1/2 are last year’s pullets keeping a diversified laying cycle going, giving you the best chance at averaging/even the eggs per week you get. Generally in the late summer or fall hens will do a natural molting process and produce very few eggs during this time.

Q? My hens are not laying yet, why is this?
A.  Most breeds will start to lay at 5-8 months of age. If not you can check several things; you need to feed them chick starter up to the point they start laying, it has everything they need, then switch them over to “egg pellets or crumble.” Maybe throw a hand full of scratch a day for a treat and make them scratch for exercise. Stay away from corn, there is already the right amount of corn in the egg pellets. There is not enough nutrition within corn to keep chickens healthy. Make sure the chickens are not sick, lightweight, pale-faced, wormy, lice and mite-infested. Make sure the hens get some sunlight and some fresh air each day. Make sure they have dry ground, windbreaks and a place to roost at night. Hens need full water and feed available all day to produce eggs. If it is fall, winter or early spring you can put one light on the birds at night with an automatic timer to turn on at 5:00 a.m. and go off at 10:00 a.m. Do not keep the light on all night, it will stress the birds and they will pick feathers, stress and get sick. Have their nest in the darker area of the coop so the hens feel good about laying in the nest. Make sure the hens are not too crowded in the pen or coop and if you have roosters with the hens don’t have more than 1 rooster to every 10 hens. Sometimes the hens are laying, except you may have a black snake eating your eggs. Also, you may have a hen that is eating eggs and the shell. If you think this is happening watch for hens pecking at eggs. If you find one hen that you suspect, put her up and see if your egg numbers increase. Once a hen starts to eat eggs you very seldom can break her and it is best to get rid of her. She will also teach the other hens to break eggs and it is best to get rid of her. Generally, a 7-month-old pullet will start to sing, comb turn red and the vent bones become more spread apart for egg production. For a standard size pullet, 2 ½ or 3 fingers width placement between the 2 bones on the side of the vent will mean she is laying or will soon be laying. If it is 1-2 width figures then she is not laying.

Q? Will hens lay without a rooster with them?
A.  Yes, hens lay without a rooster. The eggs will not be fertilized and will not hatch.

Q? When to expect my egg layer to start / stop laying eggs
Most hens stop laying in winter, not because the weather turns cold, but because reproduction is sensitive to light exposure, and daylight hours are shorter in winter than in summer. When the number of daylight hours falls below 14, hens may stop laying until spring.

Q? Chicken / bird reproduction
Once a hen starts to eat eggs you very seldom can break her and it is best to get rid of her. She will also teach the other hens to break eggs and it is best to get rid of her.

Q? Chickens / birds & common illnesses
A.  Sometimes chicks may have had a cold trip or extra-long trip and need extra heat the first 8 hours. Sometimes it is necessary to have 105 degree F in one spot or area for them to go to and warm up. Usually, in 15-30 minutes the heat has warmed their bodies up and they will start to move around and want to start to eat and drink. Also, we strongly recommend clean straw as bedding for the first 2 weeks rather than large shavings. Chicks tend to eat too much of the small parts of shavings and cause illness in the first 2 weeks.

Q? Why do chickens lose feathers?
A. Chickens lose feathers for a number of reasons including feather picking, body parasites, and molting.

Q?  When do chickens lose their feathers?
A.  Chickens are most likely to lose their feathers when they molt.

Why do chickens eat their eggs?
A. Chickens eat their own eggs for many reason, the main one being that eggs taste good. Ten other reasons chickens eat their eggs may be found here.

Q? What breeds are good egg layers year-round?
A.  Read about the best year round egg layers here

Q? I want to purchase breeds/varieties that the hens will be good setters and mothers for raising their chicks or eggs placed under them, which are the best?
A.  Silkie varieties and the bantam Cochin varieties are real good brood mothers.

Q? Can chickens / birds transmit anything to humans?
A. Chickens can transmit a number of different infections to humans. However, taking a few commonsense precautions helps minimize the risk. We recommend that you wash your hands after handling chickens or taking care of your flock. Children should be taught not to bring chicks or chickens close to their face, and to keep their fingers away from their mouth until they have a chance to thoroughly wash their hands. Also, avoid breathing bacteria-laden dust by wearing an N95 respirator whenever you clean the coop. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website offers additional simple things you can do to stay safe.

Q? What chickens lay the most eggs?
 A. White Leghorns and Brown Leghorns are famous for being prolific layers of eggs with white shells. Hybrids such as Austra White and California White are also excellent producers. Among the best brown egg layers are Black AustralorpsCherry EggersRhode Island RedsRhode Island WhitesBarred Plymouth Rocks, and Buff Orpingtons. Some of the most prolific layers of brown eggs are hybrids such as Black Sex Link, Cinnamon QueenGolden CometRed Sex Link, and Production Red. Visit our blog for more information about hybrid brown egg layers.

Q? How do hybrid chickens differ from regular breeds?
A. Visit our blog to learn the difference between purebred and hybrid chickens.

Q? What chickens lay the biggest eggs?
A. Egg size varies with a hen’s breed, strain, and age — size increases as hens mature. Most of the best layers (see above) also produce large eggs. Additionally, among brown egg layers Bielefelders and Sussex lay large eggs, and Delawares often lay extra large to jumbo size eggs. For more information on this subject visit our blog describing 15 chicken breeds that lay large eggs.

Q? What to do if my egg layer stops laying eggs?
A. Hens stop laying eggs for several different reasons. Low or no egg production during the fall molt is normal. Visit our blog for tips on how to help your chickens through a molt. Long periods of winter darkness also can cause laying to stop. Adding coop lights to provide at least 14 hours of total light each day improves winter egg production. Other factors that can cause hens to stop laying include: old age, obesity (too many treats), and excessive heat. Visit our blog for tips on helping your chickens stay cool in summer and for more details on why chickens stop laying eggs.

Q? I have several hens that are not laying and are broody wanting to stay on the nest?
A.  You need to break them up if you want them to continue to lay. It is hard to break up a hen but you could try to keep her in a separate wire cage in light. In other words, make it uncomfortable for her and do this for 3-5 days.

Q? Why would my eggshell tint lighten?
A.  In general eggshell tint will change throughout each hen’s laying cycle and go from darker tint to lighter tint. However, the most noticeable lighter tint change is generally due to a lack of Vitamin K in the hen’s diet. Add Vitamin K to the hen’s diet to darken up the natural shell tint. You will usually see results in 7 days.

Q? What is molting?
A.  Chickens annually go through a molt in late summer or fall and begin growing new feathers and plumage. Sometimes a lot of new feathers are grown and sometimes just a few feathers. Keep in mind in the spring and summer your ugliest hens (a lot of feathers off) are most times your best layers. Molting hens usually will not lay eggs during their molting time.

Q? What breeds are good for what climates?
A.  If you need help selecting what breed you should purchase go here. If you would like heat / hot weather hardy breeds go here. If you would like cold/winter-hardy breeds go here.

Q? How do I know if my pullets are ready to lay?
A.  Generally, if they are 5-8 months of age, they have red combs and they are singing you should have eggs. You can pick the hen up and feel between the 2 bones of their bottom. If 3 fingers will fit between the bones they should be laying. If only 2 fingers fit between the bones then the hen will usually start to lay with 3-6 weeks.

Q? When will the chicken breed I want be back in stock?
A.  See Breed Availability Here

Q? How to keep them from flying away?
A.  Read More Here

Q? How many hens do I need to keep my family with eggs?
A.  As a guide 10 hens, age 8 months to 2 years old will provide about 7 eggs a day. Most females will go into a molt for 2-3 months each year around late summer/early fall. This is a time they stop laying and grow new feathers. Our brown egg layers after 5-8 months of age should provide 200 – 300 eggs over 365 days per hen.

Q? Chicken hatching eggs through the mail
A.  There are many reasons why ordering hatching eggs through the mail may not produce a good hatch. First, we will assume you get fertile eggs and second, we will assume the eggs are not more than 10 days old and the eggs have not been too hot or too cold. Once the eggs leave our facility we cannot guarantee the eggs did not freeze or get too hot during delivery. We cannot guarantee that the egg case did not get shaken to the point it scrambles the inside egg and membrane. Eggs should go into the incubator or under the hen within 1-2 days after arrival. The large round end of an egg standing up and the pointed end of the egg goes down in the incubator rack. Do NOT dip eggs in warm or hot water to clean, this often drives bacteria into the protective shell. Generally, eggs do not need to be cleaned spotless because of the natural protection of the eggshell. If you must clean an egg use a damp cool cloth to wipe and then dry off with a towel. Eggs to be placed under a broody hen should be done at night time, taking her eggs out from underneath her and slowly putting the new eggs back under her. An incubator should be turned on several weeks before the eggs arrive and checked out to make sure it runs properly for at least 2 days and regulated. Most small hobby type incubator temperature should be set around 99.5-100 degrees F. The direct or relative humidity reading should be around 50-55% at a 99-100 degree F reading. If you are using wet bulb humidity reading it should be around 83-87%. These are recommended settings during the first 18 days of incubation. Candling the eggs is your choice and may be necessary if you need the room for more eggs. In the last 3 days of the incubation/hatching period, the humidity can be increased by 5-10%. It is highly recommended to have an automatic egg turner for the incubator that automatically turns the eggs every 1-4 hours. It is harder to regulate the humidity and temp if you are constantly opening the incubator to turn the eggs. For best results, stop turning the eggs 3 days before they hatch and lay the eggs down flat on a tray and don’t touch or move them around until they are completely hatched out and dried completely. Our large capacity incubators hatch eggs with 70-80% hatchability. Small hobby type incubators hatch eggs with a 50-70% hatchability.

Note: We are going to pay to have a delivery receipt on the shipment so you will need to be available to sign the delivery receipt. Before signing, open the box to see if any eggs are broken. If any are, please note it on the delivery receipt and call us within 24 hours. For damaged eggs, we will do a ONE-time reshipment and we will not refund or replace after the ONE-time reshipment. Customers order at their own risk and depend on the post office for safe delivery.

Q? What is meant by Class
A.  For Showing all poultry are broken down into what is referred to as classes. For large fowl, the Classes are named after the area the birds originated in. Such as American Class birds originated in the USA, Asiatic Class birds originated in Asia, as with the English Class, Mediterranean Class, Continental Class, and all other standard breed classes.

For Bantams, classes are named after physical characteristics. These are Game Bantams, Single Comb Clean Legged, Rose Comb Clean Legged, All Other Comb Clean Legged, and Feather Legged Classes. Every breed will be listed in only one class.

Q? What is the difference between cockerel, cock, stag, pullet, hen and straight run?
A.  Cockerels are males age 1 day to 12 months of age. Cock is a male over 1-year-old. Stag is a male 5-11 months of age. Pullets are females age 1 day to 12 months of age, hen is over 1-year-old and straight run is a term for males and females mixed as they hatch and are not separated. Generally, 100 straight run chicks will give you 50 pullets and 50 cockerels as an average.

Q? What birds should only be bought for butchering?
A.  The Cornish Cross, White Turkey, and our Bronze Turkey will not survive long if not butchered. They grow too fast and too big and will have heart attacks and /or leg problems.

Q? What breeds/varieties make the best pets for kids?
A.  Cackle offers several but here is a list of better ones: Light Brahma, all of the Cochin Standard varieties and Cochin Bantam varieties.

Q? I have a small incubator, what is the range for Humidity?
A. Most small hobby type incubators direct or relative humidity reading should be around 50-55% at a 99-100 degree F reading. If you are using wet bulb humidity reading it should be around 83-87%.

Q? How do I identify my chickens from the Hatchery Surprise?
A.  There is a Cackle surprise identification ID group on Facebook which will help you identify your chicks.

Why Cackle:

Q? Why should we buy from Cackle?
A.  Cackle specializes in shipping and hatching purebred poultry since 1936. We offer the most competitive pricing along with the quality of the breeding bloodlines and health. We are located in the central USA for the best overall mail-order distribution.

Q? Can I have a tour?
A. An online tour can be found here.

Q? Does Cackle have their own layer houses to supply hatching eggs or do you buy them from commercial hatcheries?
A.  98% of all our eggs are from Cackle Hatchery® farms and Cackle Hatchery® bloodline.

Q? What discounts does Cackle Hatchery® offer?
A.  Discounts for 4H, FFA and junior poultry clubs (write the name of Chapter club, location/membership number). We offer specials and surplus deals in the catalog and website. We sometimes offer weekly specials on the website. Feed dealers/farm and ranch stores can set up a wholesale account. Pick up sales for Surplus dealers from June-July (arrangements made with Clifton or Jeff). We also send out exclusive deals/discounts to our customers who have signed up via the website for our newsletters.

Q? How does in store chick pickup and availability work?
A. If you are not reserving/booking ahead you can come by to see what we have Tuesday and Thursdays 9 am -2 pm is the best chance to pick up overstock from the shipping the day before. You might also find some items on sale that were overstock. Generally, we list overstock on the Cackle Hatchery® facebook page for posting of sale items. First come first served so the earlier the better. Nothing can be reserved/held. Sales are pick up that day only and cannot be shipped. Read more on in store pickup and ship dates on our blog

Q? What happens to the adult egg layers / aging chickens that were used to breed the chicks?
A. To keep down feed cost and disease issues, they are sold after a year. They are sold to large buying groups. Some go to retail backyard market segments and others go to food production of some kind.

Basic Care Questions:

Q? When my birds are grown how much space do I need for their pen or coop?
A.  We recommend about 4 square feet for every standard or large fowl chicken and 2-3 square feet for every bantam or smaller breed chicken.

Q? My chickens are sick, where do I find information about common poultry diseases?
A.  Check our link page for links to poultry disease information. You might also check out our flyer on how to handle poultry safely. Highly recommended book we sell called ”The Chicken Health Handbook.”

Q? How do I care for baby chicks?
A.  We send along a care sheet with each shipment of birds. You can also look on Cackle’s home page for care instructions. Cackle recommends to use brooder lamps with light bulb or infrared bulb (up to 150 watts) for the first 2 weeks (see care sheet for details) allowing light and heat 24/7. After 2 weeks of age then go to a heater only type of heat source that does not have light as the heat source. This allows dark sleep time now for the chicks and reduces their stress and picking. Watch them carefully the first couple of nights so they do not pile on each other and suffocate.

Q? What do I feed my new little chicks?
A.  Feed only chick starter. It is formulated for all the right nutrition the birds need and it’s made the right size for the birds to eat the feed.

Q? Can I mix different size chicks?
A.  Not recommended because they will peck and flog each other or be too much of bully and hurt the smaller ones. We recommend waiting until full-grown to mix the birds so they can defend themselves better. Any time you mix a new group of chickens they fight to some extent to find out who is going to be the boss and the pecking order of all the others in the pen. To reduce the fighting and severity of the pecking order process, try putting them all in at the same time in a NEW pen that none of them have been in before. The newness of the pen will take away their urge or distract them from wanting to dominate their territory.

Q? What are a few good tips for starting baby chicks?
A.  It is best to start chicks in a brooder together of same size and age or you will have smaller weaker chicks with high mortality. I recommend blending the starter feed in a kitchen blender and feeding that to the chicks for the first 2 weeks. We highly recommend to use medicated chick starter feed and have some Apple Cider Vinegar (Unfiltered is best) on hand to treat an outbreak of coccidiosis. Most use large pine shavings as bedding, however, we have found that chicks will eat too much of the wood sawdust particles and cause some death (best to screen the shavings before use). Following Cackle Hatchery®’s “Care For Baby Chicks” sheet and view our brooder video for further helpful tips for the successful raising of chicks.

Q? How does Cackle know what are pullets or cockerels?
A.  Some of our breeds are color sexable, some of our breeds are bred so the males and females produce as chicks a long wing feather or a short wing feather for male or female and then some of our breeds are vent sexed by a professional chick sexer.

Q? Why do we not sex all the breeds we offer and some are sold only as not sexed?
A.  The breeds that we do not sex are generally breeds that are too difficult to sex accurately enough. Also, most of these breeds are too delicate for the sexing process. Some other hatcheries choose to try and vent sex them but we feel it would just create a dissatisfied customer and ultimately not live up to a customer’s expectations.

Q? When will my credit card be charged out?
A.  The day the order is taken by phone, internet, or mail order received. For us to book birds in advance and take them off the market, we must have the birds paid for.

Q? What would happen if some of my birds perished during shipment?
A.  Refer to the “guarantee” question.

Q? Is it safe to handle Poultry?
A.  Live animals and pets can be a source of potentially harmful micro-organisms, germs (including Salmonella), and bacteria. Therefore, precautions must be taken when handling and caring for them to prevent fecal/oral transmission among people. Children should be supervised as they handle animals and pets to make sure they don’t put their hands or fingers in their mouth, nose or eyes. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling any animal or pet. You should always hold or handle a chicken in a proper way to prevent an accidental flogging/spurring, accidental pecking in the eye or wing flapping that scratches your eye. Check out Cackle’s Safe Handling of Poultry Poster.

Q? Do I need a permit for poultry?
A.  Check your town (in city limits) for any restriction. Generally no restrictions for counties. It is always good to be a good neighbor and make sure you do not have a noisy crowing rooster bothering a neighbor or a coop that needs to be cleaned as the smell may bother your neighbor.

Q? What size pen or coop should I have for grown birds?
A.  Standard size birds 3-4 square feet per bird and bantam size 2-3 square feet.

Q? Why do my birds peck each other?
A.  By nature chickens peck each other and some pecking is normal. If you are mixing a new group of chickens they are going to fight until they get the pecking order established. However, when they pick all the feathers off or kill each other, it could be brought on by several reasons, some are: they may be too crowded, they may be too hot, you may have too much light on them or light on too long in the night. Be sure you are feeding them formulated chicken feed (if they are not getting the right nutrients they will peck each other) or not enough roost space. We recommend drinking nipples for chickens because of the shiny metal tips that they like to peck at which keeps them busy and makes them drink a lot of clean water for good egg production.

Q? How much feed does it take to raise a hen?
A.  As a guide it takes about 15 lbs of feed to raise a white egg layer pullet (from chick to first egg), an estimated 18 lbs of feed to raise a brown egg layer pullet (from chick to first egg) and approximately 10 lbs of feed to raise a Cornish cross broiler to 7 weeks of age. When a standard size chicken (example: Rhode Island Red hen) is at 6 months of age it will consume 1.5 lbs of feed weekly.

Q? Can I Use Fertilizer and Weed Killer on My Lawn?
A.  Generally, I would wait 1 week after treatment before allowing the chickens back on the grass. This is also assuming within that one week you have had rain or a good watering which will allow the materials to break down and get into the soil. If not, the chickens will eat the little balls of fertilizer and weed killer.

Q? Why do some of my chicks have dried droppings stuck to their bottoms (Pasty butt)?
 It is best to wash it off with warm soapy water. It blocks the chick’s vent and the chick cannot eliminate itself. If it persists you may need to consider medications, cleaning the waters, feeders and the floor area. Chicks that have been chilled or overheated can cause pasty butts.

Q? What do you mean by a clean-legged chicken?
A.  The chicken does not have any feathers on the shanks or legs. Booted or feather-legged are chickens with feathers on their shanks or legs.

Q? I have a hen that died and her butt bottom is bulging or hemorrhage?
A.  Could be the hen had a “blow out”. Vent damage caused by laying a huge egg, or could be damage caused by the pullet laying at too young of an age.

Q? Why do my chickens seem to fight each other?
A.  Most chickens will peck or fight a little to establish a pecking order within a flock and this is common. If you add new birds to an established pen of chickens they will fight or peck a little to establish a new pecking order and it is recommended to keep a watch on them for the first 1-2 days. To reduce the tendency of them wanting to fight as much it is best to put all the chickens into a new pen that none of them have been in before.

Q? What is “green” or “blood-filled”?
A.  Terms that mean that the chicken’s feathers are still growing and the feathers still have blood in the feather shaft.

Q? What should I do about sharp spurs that might harm someone?
A.  Hold the bird’s leg and use a hack saw to saw off the spur. Saw 1/2 inch away from the leg so there is a blunt 1/2 inch spur left on the bird.

Q? How do I prepare for the arrival of my chicks?
A.  ARRIVAL DATE – FIRST DAY instructions. Be sure you have some flexible time to pick up your birds from the post office. Sometimes they do not arrive when expected. Be sure to have your brooder area set up and heating source tested out so the birds can go straight into the brooder as soon as they arrive. Refrain from handling or playing with the birds the first 24 hours. We recommend for the first day to have the drinking water at 98 degrees F. This is because the birds are small with little weight to them on arrival. They will drink a lot of water which if too cool can rapidly decrease their body temperature and put them into shock or make them sick. Take each chick, one at a time, and with your fingers hold the chick’s head and do a quick dip of the chick’s beak into the water and then let go of the chick.  If you notice any lethargic behavior, after 4 hours, try using 1/3 cup of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother to every quart of warm water for 3-5 days. Normally the chicks will not start drinking or eating until they have first warmed up. The heat source needs to be at least 98-100 degrees, measured 1 inch off the brooder floor directly under the heat source. Make plenty of room so the birds can walk away from the heat source when they get too hot. A guide is one brooder lamp per 25 chicks using a 100 watt regular light bulb. The bottom of the bulb should be about 18 inches above the floor (check for 98-100 degrees at floor level). Make sure the chicks have a big area to move away from the heat as needed. Lay down a couple of layers of paper all around the brooder floor on top of the pine shaving (or you can use clean straw) and sprinkle chick starter on the paper towel. Their feet will not slip on the paper towels and they will pick at all the sprinkled chick starter. Change the paper towels out as needed. Then the next day remove the paper towels and/or sprinkled feed and use your normal feeder. You can also order a “Starter Kit” from Cackle Hatchery®. It should be ordered and shipped in advance of your chicks.

WARNING! Teflon coated light bulbs are toxic to chickens. The Sylvania Rough Service Frosted does carry a warning on the package, but the GE Rough Service Work light 100 and 75 do not carry a warning. When the Teflon coated bulb is heated, it emits toxic fumes that kill the chickens. Be sure you do not use Teflon coated bulbs around your fowl

SPECIAL NOTES: Sometimes chicks may have had a cold trip or extra-long trip and need extra heat the first 8 hours. Sometimes it is necessary to have 105 degree F in one spot or area for them to go to and warm up. Usually, in 15-30 minutes the heat has warmed their bodies up and they will start to move around and want to start to eat and drink. Also, we strongly recommend clean straw as bedding for the first 2 weeks rather than large shavings. Chicks tend to eat too much of the small parts of shavings and cause illness in the first 2 weeks.

Q? Why should I buy chicks from a hatchery rather than buying grown fowl from swap meets, neighbors or other places?
A.  We recommend buying hatchery chicks because they are generally disease-free or have less of a chance of disease exposure. When buying grown birds that have been potentially exposed to numerous diseases and that can appear healthy at the time, could have several viral respiratory diseases that are not symptomatic at the time but can pass the disease to your healthy birds giving them full-blown symptoms.

Q? Why do we only sell baby chicks February – September?
A.  We are mostly a seasonal business because of such a high demand for baby chicks in the Spring and Summer and very little demand during the other months. This slower time during October – January allows us time to clean and disinfect all of our breeder farms and hatchery and do the necessary repairs needed on our buildings, incubators, and hatchers. We work on culling, blood testing and our selective breeding program of our flocks getting them ready for production for the new year. Also during this time, we devote time to training, catalog and website development, marketing, pricing and networking with the Poultry Industry.
NOTE: Generally speaking, Spring and Summer offspring chicks will produce healthier chickens than a Fall or Winter chick because of numerous factors.

Q? Do my chicks need a roost pole?
A.  Most chickens are more comfortable to sleep on a roost rather than the floor. As young chicks, they stay on the floor, but soon start looking for a place to jump to or roost. We recommend for chicks to set up some poles about 12 inches off the floor and periodically raise the poles after all the chicks have mastered that height. Depending on the breed, at 8 months of age, you can keep the pole height about 4-7 feet high. 1-2 inch diameter round poles work good and you can use PVC or wooded poles depending on bantams or standard sizes. Metal poles are not good (metal conducts the cold too much in winter). Some chicken types do not like to roost like the Silkie. Most chickens roost and a roost pole should be available for your chickens.

Q? How do I tell if my eggs are fresh to eat?
A.  Refrigerate eggs up to 3 weeks from the day they are laid and they should stay fresh. You can test an egg by putting it in a dish of cold water. Fresh eggs sink and older eggs will float. Also, when older eggs are broken into a pan, the white and yolk will flatten or run. Fresh eggs are firm when broken into a pan.

Q? How do I treat my chickens for lice?
A.  To see if your poultry has lice, pick up the chicken holding both legs with one hand and tip the chicken upside down. Pull the feathers back around the butt area to look for lice. The lice stay around the butt area for moisture and if you see any running around the base of the feathers, then you need to treat them. One easy way is to buy some “Seven” garden/pet dusting powder at your local farm store. Use about a tablespoon of the dusting powder and cover the base of the feathers and skin in about a 2-inch radius of the butt area. Do this every 30 days for 3 months. Extreme cases you will find parasites in the ears and under the wings. In this case, treat these areas also. It is also a good idea to treat the roost poles and ground area to maintain control of the parasites. Chicken lice will not want to stay on humans and are different from human lice. After treating your fowl for lice, simply take a good long shower to remove any chicken lice that might be on you or in your hair. We also offer Diatomaceous Earth for the “Green” way to treat, see under medications.

Q? What is the terminology “Standard (STD)” or “Bantam” mean?
A.  In a short answer, a Standard breed is the large version of the breed/variety and a Bantam breed is the miniature version of the Standard breed.

Q? What kinds of poultry do better with just one male in the pen?
A.  Generally speaking a pen of Peafowl, Saipan and Standard Old English do better with just one male in the pen.

Q? How do you treat for preventing worms and parasites on growing or grown poultry?
A.  Consider buying some “food grade diatomaceous earth” from our medication section.  A ratio of diatomaceous earth of 1-2% volume ratio to regular feed, mixed and fed on an on-going basis to your poultry is said to naturally rid all worms.

Q? What is medicated feed for growing chickens?
A.  Poultry feeds are available with several types of medications for preventing or treating diseases. Coccidiostats and/or antibiotics are the two most common medications added to feeds.

Coccidiosis is hard to control by sanitation practices alone. It is best prevented by feeding a coccidiostat, which is a drug added to feed at low levels and fed continuously to prevent Coccidiosis. Feed broilers a ration containing a coccidiostat until the last week before slaughtering. Feed an unmedicated feed during this last week.

Mature chickens develop a resistance to Coccidiosis if allowed to contract a mild infection of the disease. Birds raised for placement in the laying flocks are fed a coccidiostat feed until about 16 weeks of age. The medicated feed is then replaced with a nonmedicated feed. Spotty outbreaks of the disease can be controlled by treating in the water with an appropriate coccidiostat. Examples of coccidiostats added to the ration include Monensin Sodium, Lasalocid, Amprolium, and Salinomycin.

Antibiotics may also be added to some poultry feeds. Antibiotics aid broiler performance and maintain healthy birds. They are usually added at low (prophylactic) levels to prevent minor diseases and produce faster, more efficient growth. High (therapeutic) levels are usually given in water or injected into the bird. Examples of antibiotics fed in the feed are penicillin, Bacitracin, Chlortetracycline, and Oxytetracycline.

Follow the recommended medication withdrawal periods before eating meat or eggs from the treated birds. Follow all warning instructions listed on the feed label.

Q? What are the most common health issues raising juvenile poultry?
A.  Coccidiosis is a common and natural chick condition caused by the Coccidial protozoan organism, an internal parasite called Eimeria. These live inside the cells that line the bird’s intestines. As they reproduce, they cause bleeding and swelling in the intestines. Birds lose a lot of liquid and cannot absorb nutrients from their food and will soon die if left untreated. Coccidiosis normally only infects young (growing) chickens. Older birds will build up immunity over time and it has no adverse effects on their health.

Symptoms: blood or reddish tint in droppings is usually the first sign. Ruffled feathers, a hunched up appearance, weight loss and white diarrhea around vent feathers are the next signs to appear. It can affect chickens 3 days of age to 6 months of age in general.

Coccidiosis Treatment: We are aware that in the absence of licensed alternatives, veterinarians do sometimes prescribe drugs such as Coxoid under the “cascade” to treat Coccidiosis in poultry. However, it is only a veterinarian who can advise on such use and we would be in the breach of the veterinary medicine regulations and NOAH code of practice by supporting or encouraging the use of a product on a non-target species.

Coxoid is administered in water. For it to be effective, it is important to do this quickly at the first signs of Coccidiosis infection. Coxoid contains 3.84% of the drug Amprolium Hydrochloride which is a structural analog of Thiamine (Vitamin B1). Amprolium Hydrochloride mimics its structure inhibiting Thiamine utilization by the parasite. It should be noted that Coccidiosis is not caused by bacteria and therefore does not respond to antibiotic treatment.

Q? Why do blue color varieties of breeds not breed a true blue color?
A.  The color variety of the SELF BLUE breeds does reproduce true to a blue color. However, the regular blue color varieties reproduce generally offspring of 1/3 blue, 1/3 splash and 1/3 dark blue. This is a genetic anomaly that occurs with the blue feather coloring gene. You can breed splash to splash and that will produce 100% splash. You can breed the splash to the dark blue and this will produce 50% blue offspring. Our breeds of blue currently include blue Sumatra, blue cochin standard and bantam size, blue old English standard and bantam size, blue polish, blue rose comb, blue slate turkey and Blue Swedish ducks. Our breeds of SELF blue currently include self blue old English bantam and the self blue D’uccle bantams.

Q? Are my chicks I buy from Cackle Hatchery vaccinated?
A.  No and Yes. At this time chicks are not vaccinated. We only offer 1 vaccine at this time and it is for Mareks disease, which you can add on when you select a breed and quantity of chicks entered into the shopping cart. There is a minimum charge of $10 for this service. We only vaccinate standards chicks and bantam chicks. All other poultry do not need this vaccination (N/A).

Q? How should I avoid chicken predators?
A.  See Chicken Predators or our Chicken Predator Infographic