Buying Chicks for Your Backyard Flock: Comparing Large Box Stores vs Local Farms and Breeders

Buying Chicks for Your Backyard Flock: Comparing Large Box Stores vs Local Farms and Breeders

Are you considering starting your own backyard flock of chickens? If so, you may be wondering where to get your chicks from. Two popular options are purchasing chicks from a large box store or buying them from a local farm/breeder. In this blog post, we’ll compare these two options to help you make an informed decision.

Purchasing Chicks from a Large Box Store

Large box stores like Tractor Supply and Rural King often sell chicks during the spring and summer months. This can be a convenient option for those who live in areas without many local farms or breeders.


  • Convenience: Large box stores are typically located in convenient locations and have extended hours, making it easy to purchase chicks when it fits your schedule.
  • Price: Box stores can offer competitive prices on chicks due to their ability to purchase in bulk.


  • Health concerns: Unfortunately, chicks sold at box stores are often kept in overcrowded conditions, which can lead to disease and health issues.
  • Lack of breed selection: Box stores may not have a wide variety of breeds to choose from, limiting your options.

Buying Chicks from a Local Farm/Breeder

Purchasing chicks from a local farm or breeder is another popular option. This can be a great way to support local agriculture and ensure the health of your chicks.


  • Healthier chicks: Local farms and breeders typically take better care of their chicks, resulting in healthier birds.
  • Breed selection: Local farms and breeders often have a wider variety of breeds to choose from, allowing you to select the perfect bird for your needs.
  • Support and education: Local farms and breeders can provide valuable advice on everything from feeding and housing to breed selection and health issues.


  • Limited availability: Local farms and breeders may have limited availability, so you may need to plan ahead and reserve your chicks in advance.
  • Higher price: Local farms and breeders may charge a higher price for their chicks due to the cost of raising them and the added support and education they offer.

Availability and Selection

Large box stores typically offer chicks for sale seasonally, usually in the spring, and only for a limited time. They may have a limited selection of breeds, but they are more likely to sex the chicks, meaning you can choose the gender you prefer. In contrast, local farms and breeders may offer chicks year-round and may have a wider selection of breeds available. However, not all local breeders may sex their chicks, so you may need to do it yourself or risk ending up with unwanted roosters.

Health and Quality

One potential disadvantage of purchasing chicks from a large box store is that they may not be as healthy as chicks from a local farm or breeder. Large box stores often order chicks from hatcheries in large quantities, which can increase the risk of disease transmission. However, large box stores like Rural King are more likely to take care of their chicks and offer a guarantee or refund if the chick is sick or dies within a certain period of time.

In contrast, local breeders are typically more invested in the health and quality of their chicks, as they are often raising them for their own flock or for sale to other local chicken enthusiasts. They may have taken extra steps to ensure their chicks are healthy, such as vaccinating them against common diseases.


The cost of purchasing chicks can vary widely depending on where you buy them. Large box stores like Rural King may offer chicks at a lower price point than local farms or breeders, but this may come at the cost of quality and health. Additionally, local farms and breeders may be willing to negotiate on price or offer discounts for larger purchases.

Support and Education

Another advantage of purchasing chicks from a local farm or breeder is the support and education they can give to backyard chicken enthusiasts. They are passionate about raising chickens and want to share their knowledge and experience with others. They can provide guidance on everything from breed selection and feeding to housing and health issues. Local breeders may also be able to provide ongoing support as you raise your flock, answering questions and providing tips along the way.

In contrast, large box stores may not offer as much support or education, as they may not have the same level of expertise or investment in their chicks. However, they may still offer some resources, such as care guides or customer service support.


When it comes to purchasing chicks for your backyard flock, both large box stores and local farms/breeders have their pros and cons. Large box stores offer convenience and lower prices, but may have limited breed selection and lower quality/health standards. Local farms and breeders offer healthier chicks, wider breed selection, and valuable support and education, but may have higher prices and limited availability.

Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors such as availability, breed selection, health and quality, price, and support and education before making your decision. With careful consideration, you can find the perfect chicks to start your own backyard flock and enjoy the many benefits of raising chickens.

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