Many HenCam viewers are backyard chicken keepers – or hope to be. Flocks of three to five hens, which are enough to provide eggs and entertainment, but not so many that the girls take up too much space or time, seems just about right.
But where to get the hens? The large hatcheries sell chicks in lots of 25. And even if you order all girls, they put in little roos “for warmth” or as a “bonus.” There aren’t a lot of places to dispose of unwanted roosters, and not many suburbanites are willing to kill and eat them, especially after the roosters have been named and part of the family for a month or so. Chicks are fun, and a large hatchery order is, too, but there are other options for where to go to get a flock started.
The place to go to buy a hen or two is a poultry show. Many gorgeous breeds will be on display. You can talk to a breeder to find out what’s right for you. There’s usually a sale area. Go early. Individual pullets sell quickly. Or, you can arrange with a breeder to buy a hen from his or her flock, or wait for their next hatching. “The Fancy” (as show poultry people call themselves), is a small and friendly world. If you’ve got your heart set on a breed, someone will know someone and you’ll get the chicken of your desires.
You also might fall in love with a bird that you never thought you’d go home with. I haven’t been able to get my mind off of a certain goose – the Sanbastopol, which looks like it’s dressed in a wedding gown.
To find a poultry show near you, go to this Web site. And while you are there, join the Society for the Preservation for Poultry Antiquities. They do great work.