Are you looking to add more chickens to your flock?
The Rhode Island Red is the perfect candidate as they will provide your family with lots of eggs and entertain you with their big personalities.
If your local chick seller does not have Rhode Island Red chicks, then hatcheries are a tried-and-true way to purchase healthy chicks from sellers all over the country.
In this article we share with you the 5 most reputable RIR chick hatcheries, how to identify a healthy chick in-person, what to expect as your Rhode Island Reds grow up and much more…
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Top 5 Rhode Island Red Hatcheries
The Cackle Hatchery has been hatching chicks since 1936 and is one of twelve Hobby Hatcheries left in the United States.
They have an impressive 202 breeds to choose from, including RIRs. They are a great hatchery to buy Rhode Island Red chicks from as you can buy a small number of chicks for a lower price than many other hatcheries. Their shipping minimum is also smaller than many other hatcheries too.
Cackle Hatchery also offers bantam RIRs, as well as older pullets and fertile eggs to hatch yourself.
- Minimum Order: 3 Chicks
- Price Range: $2.20-$3.10 for straight run
- More budget-friendly
- Lower minimal order for shipping
- No minimal order for sexed males
- Bantam option
- Live delivery guarantee
- Only ships February through September
- $10 Vaccination fee for Marek’s
- Can be temporarily unavailable at times due to demand
Freedom Ranger Hatchery
This hatchery sets itself apart from other hatcheries in that it is not one big hatchery, but rather a collection of five smaller hatcheries operating under the same brand. These hatcheries are all united in their underlying commitment to free-ranging all of their chickens.
Rhode Island Red chicks come from Hillside Hatchery.
They are a great choice if you want to buy numerous Rhode Island Reds in the Northeast U.S. where their shipping fee is the lowest. Hillside Hatchery also provides a fantastic deal if you want to get your chicks vaccinated for Marek’s, as they only add 8 cents to the cost of each chick.
- Minimum Order: 15 Chicks
- Price Range: $1.90-$2.75 for straight run
- Availability schedule
- Low-cost chicks
- Cheap Marek’s vaccination option
- Good refund and replacement policy
- High minimum order
- Seasonal availability
- Flat shipping rates vary depending on state
Murray McMurray Hatchery
Murray McMurray Hatchery is one of the most famous chicken hatcheries in the United States.
What makes them a good supplier for RIR Chicks is that they offer sexed male, female, and straight run options. They even sell 15-20 week old pullets if you are impatient and would rather buy a chicken that will start laying much sooner.
This hatchery has a 48-hour guarantee where you can report problems to receive a refund within 48 hours of receiving your chicks. You can also find a virtual video tour of their hatchery on their website that highlights just how clean they keep their hatchery.
- Minimum Order: 6 Chicks
- Price Range: $2.73-$3.53 for straight run
- Female, Male, and Straight Runs available
- Sell Rhode Island Reds into October
- Provide a calendar of hatch dates and chick availability
- Optional Marek’s and Coccidiosis vaccination
- 48 hour live delivery guarantee
- Due to popularity, sexed females are sometimes sold out
- 90% sexing accuracy guarantee
- Female sexed chicks are more expensive than other hatcheries
- Order cancellations must be made by the Friday before delivery date
Purely Poultry carries a wide range of birds including poultry, waterfowl, and game birds. They also provide you with additional educational resources for any of the birds they sell.
They offer Rhode Island Red chicks at any time of the year. They provide a 100% Live Arrival Guarantee to give you peace of mind during the shipping process. You also get a 90-day guarantee for any losses in the weeks following arrival.
Purely Poultry will refund any chick losses reported within 90 days of arrival.
- Minimum Order: 10 Chicks
- Price Range: $4.05 for straight run
- Year-Round Availability
- 100% Live Arrival Guarantee
- Offer Females, Males, and Straight Runs
- $10 fee for order changes
- More expensive than other hatcheries
- Higher shipping costs
The Chick Hatchery
The Chick Hatchery is a humane hatchery and NPIP certified.
Although their website can be slow and difficult to navigate, it is worth your time.
Chicks from this hatchery are guaranteed to come from a no-kill and government-certified disease-free hatchery.
- Minimum Order: 3 Chicks
- Price Range: $2.35-$2.85 for straight run
- 3 bird order minimum for females
- No order minimum for sexed males
- 100% live arrival guarantee
- No-kill hatchery
- Website can be slow
- $25 Small order fee
- Only update availability once per week
- Seasonal availability
Here are some specific things to look for to make sure that your RIR chicks are in good health.
A healthy Rhode Island Red chick should have clear eyes and be alert. They should be standing in a centered balanced way without any swaying or splayed legs.
The top and bottom of their beak should be even with each other. They should not be cracked or lined up unevenly, and the beak should be orange.
Next you should check their vent.
The chick’s bottom should look clear and fluffy. The presence of feces could indicate a gastrointestinal problem. A raw red vent is also not a good sign.
Count their toes. A healthy chick will not be missing any toes. All of their toes should be facing in the correct directions. Bent or otherwise abnormal toes indicate a potential health problem. Heathly chicks will have pale to dark orange legs and toes. Discolored spots can mean an injury or parasites.
Finally, you should pick them up. RIR chicks are vigorous and if they are in good health, they will try to squirm out of your hand.
Make sure not to pick the runts.
Although it may be tempting due to their adorable smaller sizes, runts are more likely to have health issues.
What Makes a Good Hatchery?
A good hatchery has good animal welfare practices that promote strong, healthy chicks. Good hatcheries also provide you with good customer support. Figuring out if a hatchery meets these criteria can be difficult because there are so many hatcheries out there.
You should look for a hatchery with a clean, hygienic environment. It should also have a system in place for taking care of waste products.
Even if the hatchery does not allow visitors, many hatcheries have virtual video tours. Try to find a hatchery that offers a virtual tour and keep an eye out for a clean, sanitary environment.
Good hatcheries will also have a good breeding system in place to produce healthy chicks. You should read independent reviews from others who purchased chicks to see if their chickens are still healthy years later.
The hatchery should offer a sexed chick option for laying breeds because lots of people only want hens. Surprises can still happen but for this reason a good hatchery will also have some sort of refund policy on their website. This can usually be found under a “Guarantees” or “Policies” section.
See what their guarantee of sex accuracy is. It should be at least 90%.
Signs of a bad hatchery include lack of transparency about how they house chickens and incubate eggs, no mention of policies regarding refunds should something go wrong, and poor reviews from previous customers.
Make sure to read our chicken hatcheries guide here.
What To Expect Raising Rhode Island Reds
|Rhode Island Red|
|Weight:||Hen (6.5lb) and Rooster (8.5lb).|
|Egg Production:||5-6 per week.|
|Egg Color:||Light brown.|
|Known For Broodiness:||No.|
|Good With Children:||Yes (hens only).|
|Cost of Chicken:||$2-5.|
Rhode Island Reds are one of the most popular chicken breeds.
They are a reliable, dual-purpose breed that continues to lay eggs throughout their life. They are known for being superb egg layers and will provide you with 5-6 eggs each week if you own a production strain. Heritage strains lay a little less, but are still good layers.
Rhode Island Reds are hardy and self-sufficient too. They are bold and curious chickens that will wake up first thing in the morning to go confidently foraging throughout your yard. Not much can upset these courageous chickens, which makes them easier to handle than flightier breeds.
They can stand up for themselves and will not tolerate being bullied by other breeds. Their strong will makes them a fan favorite.
If you are looking for a quiet chicken then this is not the breed for you. They have a beautiful egg song that they will sing loudly enough to share with you and your neighbors.
Overall, they are loud and confident chickens that are very practical. They are a breed that can withstand many temperature extremes and can hold their own, making them perfect for those with a more hands-off approach to raising chickens.
Chick Growth and Development
Here is a peek at the main growth stages that Rhode Island Red chicks go through.
When you first receive your Rhode Island Red chicks in the mail, they will be between 1-3 days old depending on how long shipping takes.
They are cute little balls of orange fuzz with paler bellies.
Males will have a white spot over the web of the wing, whereas females will not. This can sometimes be hard to see as the white spot can be different sizes. Another way to tell is to gently stretch out their wing, and see if the edges of the pin feathers line up. If they do, your chick is a male. If the length of the edges alternates then you have a female.
They are rather defenseless and rely on you to meet all of their needs (feed, water, warmth and protection) during this time.
In the coming weeks they will start to grow bigger and become more active. Most chicks will start replacing their fuzzy chick down with feathers by day 10.
A healthy chick will socialize with other chicks and start practicing behaviors that will teach them how to forage as adults, such as scratching and exploring. It is also not uncommon to see them snoozing a lot (especially in the earlier weeks).
Both male and female chicks will be about the same size and weight at the start of this period. They should each weigh about half a pound at week five.
The dark red feathers your chicks now possess will not last long.
During this time your chicks will go through a molt. This is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about.
Males will develop wattles very early so you should see those structures becoming more apparent. The females will not fully develop their wattles and comb for several months.
You can take them out of the brooder at this age too.
Rhode Island Red chicks can also go outside if they have access to a safe outside area. They will have lots of fun practicing their foraging skills and you might even catch them snacking on some insects or even a worm. Small squabbles may break out as they are starting to form a pecking order.
Do not be surprised if you hear them trying to crow too.
Twelve weeks marks the start of your chicks’ teenage years.
Female chicks from this point on are called pullets. The males are called cockerels. You will notice that they have gotten a lot bigger (especially the cockerels). At 12 weeks old the pullets will weigh around 2lbs and cockerels will weigh 2.25lbs. If they are not already, they should be approaching 18 inches in height.
Their legs should be getting longer and they should be a bright yellow color with even scales.
At this age, they should have most of their adult feathers. They will have a body shape that looks quite similar to an adult Rhode Island Red, just smaller.
Expect them to be very active.
By 22 weeks old your Rhode Island Red pullet should have laid her first egg. The number of eggs she lays will slowly increase until she reaches her full egg-laying capacity in a couple more months.
Although it will take another month or two before she is considered a full-grown hen, she is well on her way. She will gain a couple more pounds and become a little stockier, but her body shape will not change much more.
Some of her feathers may darken, especially around her face and neck. Her comb and wattles are somewhat developed, but will also continue to get bigger over the next few weeks until they reach their full size.
Rhode Island Reds are very popular chickens for both beginners and experienced keepers alike.
Trying to find the perfect hatchery for your Rhode Island Red Chicks can be a tad intimidating.
But after reading our article you now have some good hatcheries to consider. Remember the qualities of good and bad hatcheries to help you find the best one.
We wish you the best of luck in finding the right hatchery for you, and that you have tons of fun raising your new chicks. Enjoy those moments while they last because before you know it, they will be all grown up.
Where did you get your RIR chicks from? Let us know in the comment section below…