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 in 1-10 business days 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/POLICIES page.
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. We would notify you by phone as soon as any delay is encountered. We thank you for your business and hope we earn your business. Sincerely, Smith Family
Q? Do the customers pay for shipping?
A. Yes, internet orders automatically figure your shipping for you with online orders. Mail in orders or phone orders use our shipping chart. Shipping charges are not only the postage. The shipping charge covers postage to your Post Office, and box, padding, nesting, any heater, HydroAid, any special packaging because of weather and costs associated with delivery of your order to our regional post office dispatch for truck or flight. Most of our supplies, books, incubators, brooders and medications are FREE shipping. Supply orders for Hawaii, Alaska and US Possessions 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: 20.00 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: 20.00 + per bird charge= shipping cost. Example 15 birds is 24.05, 25 is 26.75, 50 is 33.50, 100 is 47.00. Each additional 300 birds is an additional 20.00 flat rate. During hot weather we may need to spread the birds into more bundles and additional flat rate fee of 20.00 may be required evn 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 January 2nd for that current year to be booked and shipped for anytime between Feb.-Sept. See Calendar. You can pick the month you would like your poultry shipped to you or note ASAP. It is common practice to order 2-6 weeks prior to the date you want for delivery. For rush orders, we recommend to note as a comment that it is okay to substitute similar kinds in the event we are short on one or two of your requested breeds. 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 for later in the year. Customers can consider ordering the chicken orders on a separate order 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 to "note as a comment" that 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 a number of days and not all on the same delivery date. Normally your supplies ordered from Cackle Hatchery® arrive to your delivery address with 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? Can I make changes to my order or add more birds to my order?
A. There is an added $5.00 charge to make a change to an order so please take your time to make sure the order is correct before submitting. After your order is processed we also may not be able to make the change as requested for a number of reasons. Please do not make any changes unless absolutely necessary. It has created too many mistakes to orders, caused our bird counts to not be right on the availability sheets, cost us credit card fee adjustments and caused shorting other customer's orders. OPTIONS: Make a new order for the added birds (we can ship as little as 3 chickens and 5 on the bantams) though it would require a special handling fee along with the normal shipping cost. The other option is to cancel the order with a 10% cancel fee and start all over with a new order on a new available shipping date.
Q? Pullet Sexing Guaranteed *90% (Unless noted differently in bird description).
A. We guarantee on a 100 paid pullet order that you will receive at least 90 pullets (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 pullet purchase price on under 90%. In other words, if you have over 10% that are roosters of your pullet order we should be able to refund at pullet price over the 10%. Claims must be sent directly to us when chicks are not more than 12 weeks old. We have one of the best rated and multiple gender 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.
Q? 10% CANCELED ORDER FEE (RESTOCKING FEE)
A. Any orders placed and then canceled will have 10% of the total price deducted from the total purchase and shipping price and the difference refunded by check if paid by check and if paid by credit card will have the credit card credited back the difference. 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 canceled order cost. We do make exceptions for the 10% fee for emergencies and will 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.
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 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, Hawaii, 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:
A. They are as follows: Hawaii orders must be placed at least one week in advance and we can only ship chickens. We do not ship turkey, water fowl 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 dollars worth of birds, not counting the processing fee or shipping charges. No changes can be made to orders after they are put in for a permit..
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? What days are chicks shipped from Cackle Hatchery®?
A. We ship on every Monday and Wednesday from Feb.–Aug and every Wednesday from Aug-Early Oct. See Calendar.
Q? What are your minimums for orders? Our minimum number of birds for an order to ship is 3. Our minimun 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 then 15 total birds will be charged normal shipping costs and an additional small order fee of 20.00. Bobwhite Quail and Coturnix Quail have a minimum order of 100 chicks to ship. Ringneck Pheasant have a minimum of 35 chicks to ship. The Chukar Partridge has a minimum of 60 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 on 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 full count of live, healthy poultry according to this guarantee. Generally we place 1 extra chick per each 25 ordered 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 make an adjustment 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 to us immediately. If your shipment was NOT INSURED and you have a loss, then call us ASAP 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 3 days 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 four weeks in advance and there is a $25 processing fee. The order must have at least $100 worth of birds to qualify. Missouri Residents require a permit for Bob White Quail and 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 year 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 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 at this age with "egg pellets or crumble," it has everything they need. 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, light weight, 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, wind breaks 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? I want to purchase breeds/varieties that the hens will be good setters and mothers for raising their own chicks or eggs placed under them, which are the best?
A. Silkie varieties and the bantam Cochin varieties are real good brood mothers.
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 egg shell tint lighten?
A. In general egg shell 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 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. Chicken 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? 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? 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? Fertile chicken hatching eggs through the mail
A. There are many reasons why ordering fertile 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 to 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 can not 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 egg standing up and the pointed end of 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 egg shell. 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 80-85%. These are recommended setting 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. The last 3 days of incubation/hatching period the humidity can be increase 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. Incubations set at 84 1/2 for a wet bulb reading and hatching stage 87 wet bulb reading. If using a relative humidity reading then use incubation set at 45-55% relative humidity and hatching stage 55-65% relative humidity.
Q? Why should we buy from Cackle?
A. Cackle specializes in shipping and hatching pure bred 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 best over all mail order distribution.
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.
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 with each other?
A. Not recommended because they will peck and flog each other or be too much of bully and hurt the smaller ones. We recommend to wait until full grown to mix the birds so they can defend themselves better. Any time you mix a new group of chickens together 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 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 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 any outbreak of coccidiosis. Most use large pine shavings as a 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 a 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. In order 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 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 is normal. If you are mixing a new group of chickens together 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 a number of 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 really 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 a 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)?
A. 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 damaged caused by laying a huge egg, or could be damage caused by the pullet laying at too young of an age.
Q? 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. You can add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar to 1 quart of 98 degree water and shake well. Use this mixture for the first 8 hours and then change to regular water. 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 several layers of tissue paper all around the brooder floor and sprinkle chick starter on the tissue paper. Their feet will not slip on the tissue paper and they will pick at all the sprinkled chick starter. Change the tissue paper out as needed. Then the next day remove the tissue paper 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 really 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 the first 2 weeks rather than large shavings. Chicks have a tendency to eat too much of the small parts of shavings and cause illness 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 a number of 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 - October?
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 of 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 chicken 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 an immunity over time and it has no adverse affects to their health.
Symptoms: blood or reddish tint in droppings is usually the first sign. Ruffled feathers, a hunched up appearance, weight loss and a white diarrhea around vent feathers are the next signs to appear. 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 medicines 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 analogue 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 true blue color?
A. The color variety of the SELF BLUE breeds do 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? Chicken Predators
A. See Chicken Predators