Episode 55.

In this episode, we talk about Gordo’s recovery from getting spayed, giving first aid to General Tso, a new website that gives poultry brands an animal-welfare score, and we give seven tips for buying chickens from an online hatchery.

Gordo’s Recovery

Two days before Thanksgiving, Gordo went to the vet to be spayed. He is the third dog we have been through this with. Despite him generally being a big whiner, he seems to have had the easiest time with it. I was surprised how well he adapted to living inside. Although he has never lived inside before, he has had no accidents in the house and doesn’t even try to jump up on the sofas. He has been a wonderful inside pet for the week, but I think he is excited to go back with his buddies Max and Sadie.

General Tso Needs First Aid

While we were moving the chicken tractors before the podcast, Suzy noticed that General Tso was limping. She wrangled him up and noticed that he had somehow ripped one of his spurs off and it was actively bleeding. With the chicken first aid kit handy, it took no time for the two of us to apply blood stop powder and blukote, and then get him back in business with his ladies.

New Website Grades Chicken Brands

We discovered a new website that gives poultry brands an animal-welfare score based on the conditions in which they raise their chickens. BuyingPoultry.com is a project of the advocacy group Farm Forward. We cannot find enough information about the organization to truly endorse them, but it appears the goal of the website is to simply give consumers the information they may want to make informed decision about where their food comes from.

7 Tips for Buying Chickens Online

It’s difficult to think about spring while we are in the midst of the holidays, but if you plan to start your backyard flock next spring and you want to order your birds online, you should start thinking about it now. For many hatcheries, the earliest shipping dates are in March… a full four months away!

So here are some tips if you want to put your order in now:

1. Choose a Breed or Breeds First
Often people look for a hatchery and then just shop for whatever breeds are available. We recommend you choose the breeds you want first and then find a hatchery that has those breeds available.

2. Research the Hatcheries
After selecting the breeds you want, pick a hatchery after doing some careful research into their reputation. When researching, be sure to use independent reviews outside the hatchery’s own website.? Also, be sure to judge both extremely positive and negative reviews with a little skepticism.

Another good place to check is the CDC’s list of Salmonella outbreaks. See how recently outbreaks may have been attributed to them (and how often, as well).

3. Read and Understand Hatchery Policies
My grandfather always said that the key to happiness is to have low expectations. Okay, so I don’t think you need to have low expectations, but having realistic expectation will go a long way to improving your experience.

Make sure you understand how the hatchery’s order minimums work. Some offer very low minimums, but you will be charged a good deal of money to add a heat pack to make up for the lower number of chicks. In many cases, it costs about the same to order the conventional minimum of 15 to 25 birds as it does to order four or five. Plus, if you order more birds, you can sell the ones you don’t wish to keep on Craigslist or Facebook.

Also pay attention to their refund policy. Know what does and does not qualify for a refund and make sure you are okay with that policy.

4. Add Ons
After you place your order, they will likely ask you about adding options to your order. The only two add-ons we are ever interested in is Marek’s vaccination and a squirt of pro-gel to give them some extra nourishment during their adventure through the Postal Service.

5. Call Your Post Office
We recommend you make two calls to your local post office. Call the first time when you place your order and ask them how they normally handle chicken deliveries. Do they automatically hold them for pickup or do they attempt to deliver them first?

Call again once the hatchery confirms the birds have shipped. Let them know that you have birds coming and give them a few ways to get a hold of you when the birds arrive.

6. Be Ready
Don’t wait until you are driving home from the Post Office with a box of birds before you realize you need to get your brooder set up and buy food. Have the entire thing set up and ready for them when they get to their new home.

7. Don’t Let Your Kids Open the Box!
Most importantly, do not open the box of chicks in front of your children. There is a reasonable chance that one or more birds may not survive the trip to your house. Open the box before you get home to make sure they are all alive first.


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