Warning: This article on hatchery vs. our breeding practices is a bit unsettling but important to read if you are serious about raising chickens and want to know where your eggs and meat come from .
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 from the breeds that are able to be sexed female at day one are killed, they are thrown into machines that grind them alive or are drowned for ease. When I heard this for the first time I got a deeply unsettled feeling in my core because I 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 breed Cream Legbars which let us know their sex from day one. 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. 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 one 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 the same about humane hatching and breeding practices and join us in shifting how hatcheries practice.