We are proud pioneers of Humane Breeding & Hatching practices.
Currently you will not find a hatchery in the United States like us but we hope that our example will encourage other hatcheries to adopt our practices.
All of our various breeding groups of chickens are kept on separate parts of our property in full sized coops with fenced off pasture so they have access to dirt, sun and plenty of fresh air. None of our chickens are kept in breeding cages or inhumane conditions. All of our coops are moved monthly to fresh pasture where we reseed the used space, our flocks constantly have access to the nutrition they need.
We believe in using holistic health management of our flocks and pour extra energy into preventative maintenance as opposed to waiting for issues to arise. We give apple cider vinegar in the drinking water along with garlic to help ward off any parasites. Vitamins and electrolytes are given weekly year round and in the winter months we feed coconut milk/coconut cream to help give the ladies some extra fatty nutrients. In 2016 we began using a new line of herbal tinctures to boost the health of our birds further.
Bedding is changed weekly in all of our coops in the summer and twice a week during the winter when the hens tend to stay inside their coops to take shelter from the rain. Because of our sanitation, all of our birds are robust and healthy, free of mites, lice and the general things that can make a flock run down. All of our spent bedding is used to amend our soil and orchards after being composted, nothing here is wasted.
A note on sexed chicks
Most folks don’t think twice when they pick up chicks from their feed store or order them online from major hatcheries, I know I didn’t. Hatcheries are business that are run on the production and sale of mostly female chicks. Males and imperfect chicks are killed, they are thrown into machines that grind them alive or are incinerated for ease. When we heard this for the first time we were deeply unsettled because we knew it was wrong. Hatcheries don’t want to spent the money on feed or brooding space for males and have to get rid of them somehow, that is their solution.
Here at Alchemist Farm we have some breeds we can identify the gender of based on feather patterns right after they hatch. Almost everyone who purchases chicks from us wants females which leaves us with a lot of males. We believe that every life counts and value our animals so we started a male chick and rooster relocation project. All of our extra male chicks are given away to families who raise them for meat birds so they can have a good life for four or five months and then provide food for folks who are homesteading. Many of the families we connect our male chicks with are impoverished and would otherwise not be able to have access to animal protein. They are grateful for the chicks. For every “problem” there is a creative solution waiting to be discovered. If you are interested in some male chicks to raise for free food of your own please reach out to us and we will put you on the interested list.
We only sell chicks that are in perfect condition to our customers. Nature is not always perfect and at times chicks will be born with some sort of defect (missing a toe, missing an eye, strange feathers or wings) if the chicks look like they will thrive we keep them out of our breeding program and raise them to be added to our egg laying flock so they can have good lives. The only chicks we cull are those that will not thrive (chicks born with legs that do not work for instance). It is rare but when it does happen we say a prayer for them and end their lives swiftly and humanly and bury them in our garden so they can help fertilize our plants and trees.
We believe that every life is important. We take the upmost care for all of the lives we bring into the world. Every chick is held and spoken to, they know they are loved. By week three our chicks are placed into chicken tractors where they have contact with grass, bugs, dirt, sunshine – all things that help create stronger layers down the line and prevents disease. Any bird you receive from us will be healthy, strong and sweet.
We hope that you feel as passionate about humane hatching and breeding practices as we do and join us in shifting how hatcheries practice.