I am very glad I came across this site. I have been doing a lot of reading about chickens and can not wait to get some. I am currently debating on buying chicks or incubating hatchery eggs. What do you recommend?
You will have mediocre luck with eggs as shipping can damage them even if they are packed well. Eggs, when laid aren't built for a lot of jostling around. It also depends on whether it's OK that 50% will end up being roosters vs. sexed chicks which are 90% likely to be pullets. If you do want to hatch eggs try finding breeders in your area so that you can pick up the eggs to reduce internal damage.
I was concerned about that Rachel. I was just kind of thinking it would be interesting/educational for my 3 girls and myself to experience. I also thought that I could wait and use my own chicks eggs at a later time when I am ready to increase my flock.
Rachel Hoff gives you very good points to consider.
I would only add that unless you want to go to the time and expense of incubating just for the "experience" of it (kids seem to get a kick out of it, at least the first time, lol) it is much simpler, cheeper (pun intended) and less smelly (if you get a dead egg or two, which will gas the others to death in very short order) to mail order or buy known chicks from a farm supply store. My grandkids and even my 17 year old really enjoy a trip to the feed store when the new chicks are in. (I somehow end up buying a few even when we don't need them.)
Later, if you get a rooster, you can always pick eggs from your best layers or biggest hens to stick under a broody old gal to raise chicks for you. I keep a some mixed bantam hens around for brooders. Even my smallest ole banty hen can succesfully sit on 4-5 large eggs.
I agree it would be expensive for just a one time experience. Maybe it is better to just let them observe nature taking its course. (considering I am on a low budget). I just remember growing up with a small flock of chickens only one was broody and our dog slowly stole an egg a day when she got up till she was sitting on an empty nest. Not to mention, I was not thinking about the smell of a dead egg. thanks for the info
I agree. Buy chicks, let a hen set on a clutch later.
I've been doing this for a year now, and looking back on it -- I would have felt a little overwhelmed by hatching vs. buying chicks. Now that I have quite a bit of experience under my belt, I NOW feel comfortable enough to incubate & hatch my own chicks, just haven't gotten that far. However, this is just what I feel comfortable with -- and starting out it is much cheaper to buy chicks vs. eggs plus the cost of an incubator etc. Curious to see which way you go!