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The most common ways to get your hands on some chicks are to (1) hatch them, (2) purchase them at a local feed store or breeder, (3) or have then shipped from a hatchery. This article will explain the ins and outs of mail-order chicks.

Getting chicks from a hatchery is a great way to add variety to your flock with rare breeds or increase your flock’s genetic diversity (see: Find the Right Breed of Chicken). Most hatcheries allow you to select the breed and sex of your chicks. You can also check if they vaccinate for common diseases like Marek’s. Hatcheries are able to ship one-day-old chicks because newly hatched chicks can live solely off the nutrients of their egg for up to three days.

There will be a minimum order requirement—usually around 15 to 25 chicks—so that their body heat will keep them warm during shipping. The chicks are shipped and should arrive at your local post office in 24 hours. Time is of the essence, so you may want to ask the post office to call you when they receive your feathery friends.

Once your birds are in hand, take them home and get them settled in their brooder. If they look like they had a rough trip, add table sugar to their water at 3 tablespoons sugar to 1 quart water for a day or two, to help perk them up a bit. Electrolytes can also be added to their water source. After that it’s eat, drink, play, sleep, repeat!

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