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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to frequently asked questions from Murray McMurray Hatchery
See below for for answers to frequently asked questions about ordering, shipping, caring for your birds, and more. Click the buttons below to jump to a specific subject, or scroll down to view the entire FAQ. The McMurray Hatchery Blog is also a great resource to learn more about different breeds, types of fowl, and raising and keeping poultry. For questions about a specific order, or a subject not covered here, click here to contact us.

McMurray Hatchery Avian Influenza Statement

Each spring, as migratory birds and fowl return north, they travel along migratory pathways. During migration, they frequently carry diseases, such as avian influenza, and pass them on to other birds along the way. The 2022 migratory season has seen an elevated number of cases of highly-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infecting backyard and commercial flocks along these migratory pathways.

As an NPIP facility, our flocks are regularly tested for avian influenza, and we have multiple levels of biosecurity practices in place. On April 1, 2022, despite our best efforts, we received a confirmed positive test in one of our barns. A diagnosis of HPAI can be catastrophic for flocks, especially breeders of rare, endangered, and Heritage breeds. Our team is working in conjunction with Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials around the clock. The hatchery was placed under provisional quarantine by the IDALS and the USDA while all testing was done. The quarantine has been lifted, and we have been cleared to continue hatching and shipping to all 50 states in the U.S.

Customers who have received recent orders, as well as those who are expecting upcoming orders this season, can rest assured that their chicks and other baby poultry will be healthy. There is no risk to our customers or their existing flocks. All chicks hatched and shipped previously, and those hatched going forward, are from flocks with ongoing negative test results. Our NPIP status and all of our stringent USDA-approved biosecurity precautions will remain in place, including the continued ongoing testing of all flocks at all locations.

A number of breeds of chickens are affected by this situation. Some customer orders will be affected, but many will not be impacted. Those with affected orders will be contacted in order by ship week. Other types of poultry and fowl are not impacted, and will ship as scheduled. Affected chicken breeds will be unavailable for the remainder of the season as we work to preserve the genetics of these flocks for future seasons.

We ask for your patience as we navigate this challenging time. Our priority is to preserve our rare and Heritage chicken breeds, and to contact customers with affected orders.

The situation is fluid, and we will continue to provide updates here. Questions or concerns may be directed to info@mcmurrayhatchery.com.

About Avian Influenza (AI)

WHAT IS AVIAN INFLUENZA?
Avian influenza (AI) is virus carried by free-flying and migratory waterfowl such as ducks, geese, and shorebirds. Domestic poultry — including chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, guineas, and domestic ducks and geese — are all susceptible to the virus, which can be fatal to these flocks. 

HOW IS AVIAN INFLUENZA (AI) TRANSMITTED?
Domestic, residential, and commercial poultry are at risk for avian influenza, and strict biosecurity practices should be put in place to protect these flocks — especially those in migratory pathways. Avian influenza can be transmitted by:

  • Secretions from infected birds' mouths, nostrils, eyes
  • Droppings of infected birds
  • Movement of infected birds
  • Foot traffic and contaminated clothing/equipment

WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT AVIAN INFLUENZA?
The USDA has recently confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in both commercial and backyard flocks in multiple states. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus strains are extremely infectious, often fatal to chickens, and can spread rapidly from flock to flock.

WHAT IS BIOSECURITY AND HOW DO I PROTECT MY FLOCK?
Biosecurity refers to the measures taken to prevent the introduction or spread of disease. By practicing good biosecurity when it comes to your poultry, you can reduce the risk of people, animals, equipment, and vehicles carrying infections diseases — either accidentally or on purpose — onto your property, and help prevent the spread of disease. Protect your flock from avian influenza and other transmissible diseases by: 

  • Keeping visitors to a minimum
  • Covering coops and runs to prevent contact with wild birds and their droppings
  • Refraining from feeding or otherwise attracting wild birds on your property
  • Wash your hands before and after working with your birds
  • Utilize a foot bath to disinfect the shoes of anyone coming in contact with your flock, and consider using a designated set of coop-only shoes and/or clothes when coming in contact with your flock
  • Cleaning and disinfecting tools and equipment frequently
  • Changing your flock's food and water frequently
  • Looking for signs of illness and report sick birds immediately

For a comprehensive list of biosecurity basics and information, click here to visit the USDA APHIS website.

 

2022 Shipping Restrictions Due to Avian Influenza (AI)

The following is an updated list of changes and/or restrictions that have been put in place due to 2022 Avian Influenza (AI) cases:

  • There are no current shipping restrictions due to avian influenza.

2022 Avian Influenza Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that many of our customers have questions about the recent announcement regarding avian influenza. Please see the following for answers to frequently asked questions. If you have further questions or concerns, please call us at (800) 465-3280 or text us at (515) 832-3280 during business hours. You can also reach out to us via email at info@mcmurrayhatchery.com.

  • I have an order coming up, what should I do? We ask for your patience as we work through all affected orders. An email to all affected customers was sent on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. The email contains a list of self-service options to aid you in updating your order. If you choose not to use any of those options, one of our customer service representatives will contact you. Customers with affected orders will be contacted according to ship week. Please note that it may take some time for us to contact you if your order is scheduled for later this summer or fall. Please assist us in giving priority to those with immediate orders.
  • Why haven’t I received a call or email yet? There are a few reasons as to why you have been contacted yet. First, it is very possible that your order is not impacted at all, and that your chicks will ship as usual. Please check below for information on what birds are not affected. Second, our customer service team is working overtime to contact all customers with affected orders. Calls are being made in order by ship week. Please note that it may take some time for us to contact those with orders scheduled for later in the summer or fall. Please assist us in giving priority to those with immediate orders. It is also possible that our email did not come through to your inbox. We recommend checking your junk or spam folder. If you are concerned about your order, please log in to your account at McMurrayHatchery.com. You will easily be able to check on the status of your order there, as affected breeds within each order will be marked with an asterisk.
  • Why is my phone call not going through? We are experiencing incredibly high call volume at this time. We are doing our very best to answer your questions as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you are unable to reach us by phone, please contact us using one of the alternate methods that we have listed.
  • I already received my chick order. Are my birds at risk or sick? You can rest assured that any baby poultry that you receive from our hatchery is safe and free of disease. As always, we follow stringent biosecurity protocols, and all of our flocks are being tested continuously. Any chicks that have already shipped, and any incubating at this time, have been cleared by rigorous testing as well.
  • When will these rare breeds be available again? At this time, our priority is to focus on rebuilding as many of our rare flocks as possible. Our team is working overtime to preserve the genetic diversity of our rare, endangered, and Heritage breeds. It will be some time before we have more information, but we do not expect to have affected breeds available for the remainder of this season.
  • Can I still order chicks this year? If so, what will be available? Customers are still able to order chicks moving forward. While there will be limited availability in the coming weeks, there are still chicks available for this summer and fall. We will continue to hatch on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays each week through July, and then on Mondays and Tuesdays through the end of the season. Please visit our website to browse the breeds that are hatching and see when they are available to ship.
  • When will I know more about the private pre-ordering event being offered to those with affected orders? If your order was affected during this process, you will receive an email in early October with more information about our private pre-ordering event. Please understand that we need to use the remainder of the hatching season to replenish our flocks, gather data, and enter numbers into our system. We expect to have significantly more information about our offerings for next season sometime in October. We thank you for your patience. 
  • Will I be excluded from the pre-ordering event if I choose to accept current substitutions on an existing affected order? All customers with affected orders will be invited to our private online pre-ordering event regardless of how they opt to handle their affected orders this season. 
  • What is the process if I choose to postpone my order until next season? If you choose to postpone your order until next season, your account will automatically update with a holding date of 11/7/22. Please understand that this is not your expected ship date. Our system needs a holding date in place while we replenish our flocks, gather data, and enter numbers into our system. All postponed orders will be updated with expected ship dates sometime in October. You will receive an email when your order has been assigned a new expected ship date. Once you receive this email, please log into your account to view your expected ship date and verify that the timing will work for you. If the new expected ship date for your postponed order does not work for you, please contact our customer service team using one of the methods we have listed. 
  • What breeds are affected and what happened to them? Several of our flocks of rare and Heritage chicken breeds were affected, or partially affected. Our website has been revised to show updated availability for those breeds we have available for the remainder of this season. Our team is already working to rebuild all of the lost flocks, which include some of our rarest breeds, feather-footed breeds, crested breeds, and some Heritage breeds. Partially affected breeds where multiple flocks were housed at separate properties, such as the Bielefelder, will remain available but with reduced availability for the remainder of this season. The procedures regarding the affected farm and barns are under USDA guidance, and we are continuing to follow all required protocols in order to bring that property back online by next season. We will continue to update our website and share updates when more information is available.
  • What are you doing to recover these affected breeds? We were fortunate that our incubators contained three weeks of eggs from the affected flocks. Orders are being reworked so that we can retain as many viable chicks as possible from these breeds to be raised as replacement flocks. This will allow us to preserve the genetics and lineage of as many rare, endangered, and Heritage breeds as we possibly can. As always, we remain committed to the conservation and preservation of these special breeds.
  • What types of poultry or breeds are not affected? Thankfully, there are currently no interruptions on Cornish Cross, Cornish Roaster, Cornish Game Hens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasants, quail, peafowl, exotic juveniles, and many of our heavy layer breeds. All of these are shipping as scheduled without interruptions. As indicated above, please see our website for continuously updated chick availability.
  • Are the unaffected breeds and poultry safe and disease free? Yes, all unaffected breeds are safe and disease free. We were fortunate to only have the confirmed positive case on one of our properties. Eggs from the affected flocks were disposed of per USDA guidelines and never entered the incubators.
  • Are you still able to ship at this time? Yes, we are able to ship. After being placed under a very short provisional quarantine while all testing was conducted, the USDA has now fully cleared us for both hatching and shipping. 
  • How did one of your flocks come in contact with HPAI in an NPIP facility? As is the case with many HPAI cases, the direct cause of infection is unknown, especially as our entire team follows such strict biosecurity protocols.
  • How can I help? Above all else, we ask that our customers have patience with our team during such a difficult time. As poultry lovers and Heritage breed conservationists, our team feels each loss that we have endured on a deep and emotional level. We are doing our best to navigate this challenging time while continuing to serve our amazing customer base to the best of our ability.

2022 Order Updates and Alerts

Our customer service team is working to contact customers with affected orders by ship date. Please see the list below for updated information and for the status of orders we are currently working on. Please continue to assist us in giving priority to customers with immediate orders. These updates are for baby chick orders only. 

CURRENT CALL STATUS: Our team is currently working on orders for the weeks of 7/11 through 7/31

Please review the following updates carefully (UPDATED 7/6/2022):

  • Please see 2022 Shipping Restrictions Due to Avian Influenza for updates on orders for the following: Hawaii, Canada
  • There are currently no breed-related interruptions on orders containing only Cornish Cross, Cornish Roaster, Cornish Game Hens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasants, quail, peafowl, and exotic juveniles. All of these are shipping as scheduled without interruptions.

 

Minimum Orders for Baby Chicks and Other Types of Poultry or Fowl

  • CHICKENS (STANDARD BREEDS)
  • BANTAM CHICKENS
    • 15 chicks — April-August
    • 10 chick minimum on all Hatchery pick-up orders in Webster City, IA.
  • WATERFOWLDucklings and goslings may be mixed and matched to meet the order minimum.
    • DUCKS — 2 ducklings A small order fee of $45 will apply on orders of 2-9 ducklings.
    • GEESE — 2 goslings A small order fee of $45 will apply on orders of 2-9 ducklings)
  • GUINEAS — 30 keets
  • PARTRIDGE — 35 chicks
  • PEAFOWL — 8 pea chicks
  • PHEASANTS — 30 chicks
  • QUAIL — 100 chicks for most breeds; 30 for Bobwhite and Coturnix Quail
  • TURKEYS — 15 poults

Reporting Losses Or Issues With An Order

McMurray Hatchery offers a 48-hour Live Arrival and Livability Guarantee — Contact our Customer Service department at 800.456.3280 to report any losses that occurred during shipping, or the loss of any properly cared for bird(s) within 48 hours of arrival, for a replacement, refund, or credit to your account. Reports must be made by phone during normal business hours. If your 48 hours lapses over the weekend or a holiday, please contact us on the next regular business day. Replacement orders must meet our minimum order requirements for safe shipping.

For other issues with an order, please contact Customer Service by calling 800.456.3280, using the Contact Us form on our website, or Chat window on our website during normal business hours. Allow 4-5 days for a response to questions submitted via email or our Contact Us form.

Order Cancellations

See below for deadlines* and charges for order cancellations. Please read carefully as the day and time varies for each type of poultry or fowl.

BABY CHICKS
Cancellations and changes to orders for baby chicks must be made by 12:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery. NO CANCELLATIONS CAN BE MADE AFTER THAT TIME.

DUCKLINGS AND GOSLINGS
Cancellations and changes to orders for waterfowl must be made by 12:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery. A $10.00 late cancellation fee will be applied to any cancellations made between 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery — NO CANCELLATIONS OR CHANGES CAN BE MADE AFTER THAT TIME.

GUINEAS
Cancellations and changes to orders for guinea keets must be made by 12:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery. NO CANCELLATIONS OR CHANGES CAN BE MADE AFTER THAT TIME.

PHEASANTS AND CHUKAR PARTRIDGE
Cancellations and changes to orders for pheasant or Chukar Partridge chicks must be made by 12:00 PM Central on the Wednesday before scheduled delivery. NO CANCELLATIONS OR CHANGES CAN BE MADE AFTER THAT TIME.

QUAIL
Cancellations and changes to orders for quail chicks must be made by 12:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery. NO CANCELLATIONS OR CHANGES CAN BE MADE AFTER THAT TIME.

TURKEYS
Cancellations and changes to orders for turkey poults must be made by 12:00 PM Central on the Thursday before scheduled delivery. NO CANCELLATIONS OR CHANGES CAN BE MADE AFTER THAT TIME.

JUVENILE BIRDS
Cancellations and changes to orders for juvenile birds must be made by 12:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery. NO CANCELLATIONS OR CHANGES CAN BE MADE AFTER THAT TIME.

*Deadlines are subject to change.

Ordering Restrictions by State and/or Country

Please see below for poultry, fowl and merchandise restrictions by state and/or country. We recommend checking your local ordinances or with your state wildlife or regulatory agency before placing your order.

UNITED STATES:

ALASKA

  • No turkeys
  • No quail
  • No fowl eggs
  • No feed
  • No vaccines

ARKANSAS

  • No Mallards

CALIFORNIA

  • No Mute Swans
  • No Amprol 9.6%

FLORIDA

  • No Mallards
  • No Fancy Duck Package

GEORGIA

  • No Wood Ducks

HAWAII

  • Baby chicks require a physical address and health papers to import. Please book 2 weeks out to allow time for the paperwork.
  • No fowl except Muscovy ducklings.
  • No fowl eggs
  • No juvenile birds
  • No feed
  • No vaccines

MARYLAND

  • No Mute Swans

MINNESOTA

  • No Bobwhite Quail
  • No Mute Swans
  • No juvenile fowl

NEW YORK

  • No Mute Swans

NORTH DAKOTA

  • No Mallards or Muscovy ducklings
  • No Fancy Duck Package
  • No juvenile chicks (4-6 weeks old)

MICHIGAN

  • No Mute Swans

RHODE ISLAND

WYOMING

  • The State of Wyoming requires a vet check on quail. This will add $50.00 per order.

 

CANADA:

  • Baby chicks will ship to a U.S. Post Office near to the Canadian border. Customers are required to come across to pick up their birds, and then transport them back into Canada. Canadian chick orders require health papers — available for $75 per order (non-refundable). We recommend booking at least 3 weeks out to allow time for the paperwork. For replacements, new paperwork will be charged at $37.50 — replacements also require booking 3 weeks out.
  • No baby ducks or geese
  • No hatching eggs
  • No juvenile birds
  • No feed
  • No vaccines
  • No drop-ship merchandise

 

GUAM:

  • No chicks
  • No fowl
  • No hatching eggs
  • No juvenile birds
  • No merchandise

 

PUERTO RICO:

  • No chicks
  • No fowl
  • No quail
  • No hatching eggs
  • No juvenile birds
  • No feed
  • No vaccines

When Will My Chicks Arrive?

When you order your chicks, during checkout you will select a hatch/ship date for your order. We hatch 2-3 days per week (Monday-Tuesday, or Monday-Wednesday) depending on the time of year. Your chicks will ship Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday of the week you select and can take up to 3 days for them to arrive at your post office.

You will receive an email and/or text with tracking information when your order has shipped. Please note that USPS tracking does not always show incremental updates between the origin and destination.

If you have questions about an order, contact our Customer Service at (800) 456-3280 during business hours.

Free Shipping

McMurray Hatchery is pleased to offer FREE SHIPPING* on full orders these day-old baby birds:

  • Baby Chicks — Valid on full orders only (25+ chicks Feb-Mar; 15+ chicks Apr-Oct)
  • Ducklings and Goslings — Valid on full orders only (10+ birds)
  • Turkey Poults
  • Guinea Keats
  • Partridge Chicks
  • Peafowl Chicks
  • Pheasant Chicks
  • Quail chicks

Free shipping is via USPS and guaranteed 2-3 day delivery. Express shipping is available for an additional fee, however please note that Express shipping gives priority loading to all items but does not guarantee expedited delivery on orders of live animals.

*Some exceptions apply. The following are not eligible for free shipping: small orders of chicks (6-14 chicks), small orders of ducklings and goslings (2-9 birds), juvenile chicks, started pullets, juvenile birds, and exotic breeds.

Can You Ship Outside of the U.S.A.?

We can only ship within the 50 U.S. states due to health regulations. NOTE: Some types of birds and products have restrictions when shipping to certain states and/or Canada. Please see our shipping restrictions FAQ for more information.
Canadian CustomersCLICK HERE for ordering and shipping information.

 

Can Chicks Be Shipped Express or Overnight?

The United States Postal Service has many rules regarding the shipment of live animals. The USPS is the only carrier that ships day-old baby poultry. The USPS guarantees that shipments of day-old poultry will be delivered within 2-3 days. McMurray Hatchery also offers a live delivery and livability guarantee on all of the birds we sell.

Express shipping is available for an additional fee, however please note that Express shipping gives priority loading to all items but does not guarantee expedited delivery on orders of live animals. The USPS retains the right to alter the flights used to protect the animals — for example, live animals can not fly on flights that have dry ice.


Below is the USPS (DMM 604, 9.0, 9.5.5, Paragraph G) ruling/reference for all mail:

United States Postal Service Domestic Mail Manual

604 Postage Payment Methods and Refunds

9.0 Exchanges and Refunds

9.5.5 Refunds Not Given

A postage refund will not be given if the guaranteed service was not provided due to any of the following circumstances:

g. The shipment contained live animals and was delivered or delivery was attempted within 3 days of the date of mailing.

Canadian Ordering Information

UPDATED 4/1/2022: Effective immediately — no live birds can be shipped to, or transported into, Canada until further notice.
McMurray Hatchery has been successfully supplying Canadian customers baby chicks and poultry equipment and merchandise for many years. Please note some restrictions and limitations apply on Canadian orders.
CANADIAN ORDERS FOR DAY-OLD BABY CHICKS
Baby chicks will ship to a U.S. Post Office near to the Canadian border. We cannot ship live poultry directly into Canada. Customers are required to come across to pick up their birds, and then transport them back into Canada. Canadian chick orders require health papers — available for $75 per order (non-refundable). We recommend booking at least 3 weeks out to allow time for the paperwork. For replacements, new paperwork is required and will be charged at $37.50 per order — replacements also require booking 3 weeks out. Please review the following steps when placing a Canadian order for baby chicks:
  • When placing your order, you will need to provide us with your Canadian mailing address.
  • Provide us with the U.S. city where you plan to pick up your order. The address on the poultry boxes will be your name and the post office at the U.S. city you have chosen.
  • Health papers will be required to transport your birds into Canada. We can supply the required health papers for a (non-refundable) cost of $75.
  • Please check with your Canada Border Crossing Inspection Station, in advance, to verify they are prepared to inspect and admit poultry.
IMPORTANT, PLEASE NOTE:
  • CLICK HERE to view an updated list of Canadian restrictions on certain types of poultry and merchandise.
  • Baby chicks ship for import into Canada between late January and the end of October each year.
  • Shipping exceptions apply for some U.S. and/or Canadian holidays.
  • All sales and shipping costs are in U.S. dollars. All orders must be pre-paid in U.S. funds. No C.O.D. orders. Master Card, VISA, American Express, Discover, and PayPal are accepted. All phone orders must be paid by credit card. A $30 fee will be charged on any check or money order not in U.S. funds.
  • We will charge your credit card 3 weeks prior to shipment. We must charge the card then so that we can purchase and file the health papers in time for your shipment.
  • POULTRY HEALTH PAPERS: Health Papers are required at Canada Border Crossing Inspection Stations for ALL live day-old poultry transported into Canada. We will apply to the State of Iowa to obtain health papers for you at an additional (non-refundable) charge of $75. All Canadian orders must be placed at least 3 weeks prior to the order ship date. Once the health papers are applied for, the $75 charge is non-refundable. If you change your order ship date, and additional $75 fee will apply as we will have to re-apply for health papers. For replacements, new paperwork is required and will be charged at $37.50 per order — replacements also require booking 3 weeks out.
  • OTHER NON-POULTRY MERCHANDISE: Additional shipping will be added, call our Customer Service department for a quote.

Chick Care Tips

We have added the following information to help you get your baby chicks and other poultry started correctly, and hopefully eliminate any potential problems that might arise. Please read this information carefully and be prepared when your baby poultry arrive.

THE CARE OF BABY CHICKS, TURKEYS, GUINEAS, PHEASANTS & PARTRIDGE

Essential Poultry Needs: Feed, Water, Heat, Light & Space.

FEED: Use a commercial chick starter for the first 8 weeks. Use a 2-foot feeder for every 25 chicks. On the first day cover the litter with newspaper and spread some feed on the papers and also fill your feeders full. This will allow the new birds to find the feed. After the first day remove the papers from the starting area. Please refer to the table in our catalog for feed protein levels for the type of poultry you are ordering.

WATER: Have a 1-gallon chick waterer for each 50 birds. Your birds will be thirsty when you get them. DIP THE BEAK OF EACH CHICK IN THE WATER BEFORE YOU TURN IT LOOSE. A taste of water right away helps them to find more water soon. For the first 2 days, add 3 tablespoons of table sugar to each quart of water for extra energy. For best results, have either Quik Chik, Broiler Booster, or an antibiotic in the water. Most baby bird loss is caused because the bird doesn't start to eat or drink. Never let your bird run out of water.

HEAT: The temperature where the birds are should be 90 to 95 degrees for the first week. Reduce the temperature 5 degrees per week until you get to 70 degrees. Then they shouldn't need any more heat. A good source of heat is a 250-watt bulb. Red bulbs are better than white as they help to discourage picking. Hang the lamp 18 inches from the floor. The temperature directly under the bulb will be higher than 90 degrees but the birds will adjust themselves to the area they like. Use one bulb for every 50 chicks in cold weather. Use one bulb for each 100 chicks in warm weather.

LIGHT: If you use a heat bulb, this will also serve as the light you need. Otherwise, be sure to give your birds light. Use a 75-watt bulb on darker days. Have a small light for night — 15 watts or similar — to keep them from piling.

SPACE: Try to provide one half square foot per bird at the start. For example, when starting 50 chicks use a draft shield (see below) and make a circle about 5 to 6 feet across. For 100 birds, make the circle 7 to 8 feet across.

OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS

DRAFT SHIELD: Cardboard put in a circle about 12 inches high around the birds helps cut down drafts on the floor. Be sure the circle is large enough to allow the birds to get away from the heat if they want to.

LITTER: Wood shavings, rice hulls, or ground cobs make good litter. Do not use cedar chips, treated wood chips, or sawdust (it is too small and the birds may eat it instead of their food). Sand, straw, or dirt will also work, but they are not as good as the others. Put the litter all over the floor at least one inch thick. Keep it covered for the first day with newspapers to keep the chicks from eating the litter instead of the feed. To avoid possible leg problems, remove the papers after the first day for heavy breeds and meat birds, and after the third day for lighter breeds.

GRIT: Starting the third day, sprinkle baby grit on the feed daily as if you were salting your food. Avoid putting too much at any one time as the bird may fill up on it instead of the feed.

PICKING: Baby birds will often pick each other if they are too hot, too crowded, or without fresh air. Occasionally bright light also causes them to pick. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to picking. Sometimes, however, they pick for no apparent reason. To stop it try putting in fresh green grass clippings several times a day and darken the room. As a last resort, debeaking might have to be done. To treat birds that have been picked, smear pine tar or black grease on the injured area.

SPECIAL SITUATIONS AFTER THE CHICKS ARRIVE

IF THE BIRDS HAD A HARD TRIP: Instead of using the standard feed and water suggestions listed, try this: Put 6 more tablespoons of sugar in each gallon of water. Then mix some of this extra sweet water with some of your feed to make a soupy mix. Give your birds this special feed and water mix for 3 to 4 days to get them over the effects of shipping.

REAR END "PASTING UP": Sometimes the stress of shipping causes the manure to stick to the back of the bird. It is important to remove this daily. Carefully soak the area with warm water, and gently wash off with a wet cloth. It will disappear in a few days as the bird starts to grow.

CORNISH X ROCKS AND BARBECUE: Try starting these groups on broiler starter — the higher protein seems to help them avoid leg problems. We would also recommend you not let these birds eat all they want. Fill the feeders each day and let the feed run out in the late afternoon. Research has shown these birds will grow just a fraction slower but have considerably less problems by not feeding them continuously. Also add extra amount of vitamins from the start. We recommend either Quik Chik or Broiler Booster in the water from start to finish.

AFTER FOUR WEEKS:

  1. Increase floor area to 3/4 square feet per bird.
  2. Increase feeders to provide 2-1/2" to 3" of space per bird.
  3. Increase waterers to one 5-gallon fount per 100 birds.
  4. Make sure grit hopper is filled with proper sized grit. Check with your feed man.
  5. Install roosts at back of brooder area. Allow four inches per bird with roost poles six inches apart.
  6. Open windows in day-time. Leave only partly open at night.
  7. Prevent water puddles around founts. Place founts on low wire platforms.
  8. Birds can range outside on warm, sunny days, but only if clean range is available.

CARE OF DUCKS & GEESE

FEED: You must feed them starter up to four weeks of age. Grower from that point on. Layer can be introduced gradually at their first egg. Whole and cracked grains can be used to supplement the at maturity. Green grass and vegetable trimmings can be given at any time.

WATER: Ducklings should have access to drinking water at all times but not enough for them to walk or swim in. Since they have been hatched in an incubator, they do not have their mother's protective oil on their down, therefore they can be easily chilled if allowed to be in water. Access to swimming water can be given at full feathering (approximately two months of age.)

HEAT: The first week they need access to areas heated to 90 degrees F. This can be reduced 5 degrees F per week. For small numbers, a heat lamp suspended 1-1/2' above the bedding is fine. Heating may take daily adjustments. If they are huddled or climbing on one another, increase the temperature. If they move away from their heat source, reduce the temperature. Protect them from all drafts.

HEALTH: Keep the bedding as dry as possible (wood shavings are the best). Do not use cedar chips, sawdust, or treated wood chips for bedding. Once your ducklings or goslings are one month old allow them room to exercise and play outdoors during the day if possible. Also protect them from dogs, cats and other predators. You should have few health problems if you follow all the above instructions. If you do have any problems, try adding an antibiotic to their diet.

Leg Band:  If your birds were sexed and identified with colored bands, remove upon receipt.

What does straight run mean?

Straight run means “just as hatched”.  The chicks have not been seen by our professional sexors to determine if males or females.

What is the ratio of males/females in a straight run?

As the chicks are not seen by our professional sexors, we do not actually know the ratio of males or females in a straight run.

Which breeds are friendliest?

To name a few: Cochins, Turkens, Orpingtons, Polish, Silkies. See our chicks page for a complete list.

Can you mix together chickens of different ages?

It´s not a good idea. The big ones may pick on the smaller or younger ones. You could try when the birds reach the same size as the flock you are introducing them into.

Can I mix baby chicks with other types of fowl such as turkeys, ducks, geese, etc. on an order?

Sorry, we cannot ship them together. Chicks are hatched at a different time and location than the other fowl and therefore are shipped separately. You must stay within the minimums required for safe shipping. Please call our toll free number regarding any concerns or questions about your order. 800-456-3280

Egg Production Ratings

Laying ability can vary greatly depending on nutrition, hydration, stress, environment and hours of light per day. Our rating scale is shown below, as an approximate number of eggs per year.  These numbers are approximate and are not guaranteed.

  • Best: 281 - 365
  • Better: 221 - 280
  • Good: 151 - 220
  • Fair: 150 or less

These values are determined by observation of our birds over the previous 3 years.

Which breed lays better, Red Star or Black Star?

Both breeds are hybrids, produced for their incredible egg production.  Both breeds lay as many eggs as the other.

Will I get Americanas in Murrays Choice Layers?

Sorry, we cannot guarantee any specific breed that will be included in any of our assortment packages.

Will all the breeds in my chick order get along with each other?

When starting a flock together, of the same age, they will grow up and get along with each other fine, despite their breed differences.

If you offer the Homesteader's Delight, why can't I order a few chicks, turkeys, & ducks myself?

The Homesteader's Delight is a special package shipped from one flock owner.

How long do I have to keep feeding them un-medicated feed if I get coccidiosis vaccination?

Do not provide medicated feed to flocks vaccinated against coccidiosis, as it will nullify the vaccination.

What chicken breeds do best in heat?

To name a few: Leghorns, Minorcas, Rhode Island Reds, Silkies. See our chicks page for a complete list.

What chicken breeds do best in cold?

To name a few: Brahmas, Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Americanas, Silkes. See our chicks page for a complete list.

How much is my adult chicken worth?

It is very difficult to put a value on an adult chicken. A very general figure would be to add the cost of the bird at purchase, feed and medication costs and add 20%.

What kind of offspring can I expect when crossing different breeds?

When you cross two different purebred chickens, the offspring will be hybrids, which will usually bear similarities to the parents. Hybrids do not breed true, though, so if you further cross these hybrid offspring, there will likely be considerable variations in the appearance and traits of the second generation offspring.

 

The most productive meat birds and egg layers available today are hybrids that result from the crosses of different breeds of chickens. These include Pearl White Leghorns and Cornish X Rocks.

 

For questions about specific crosses, you may want to contact a geneticist at your nearest university agricultural department.

What is a capon?

A capon is a rooster that has been castrated to improve the quality of its flesh for food.  See more at wikipedia.

Is there any way to tell if an egg is fresh?

Yes, put it in cold water. A fresh egg contains little air so it will sink. An older egg will float. Also, if you break open a fresh egg into a dish, the white is compact and firmly holds the yolk up. In an old egg the white is runny and the yolk will flatten out. For more answers to your poultry questions we recommend the book Guide to Raising Chickens

How long does it take for a hen to lay eggs?

Most hens will start laying between 5-7 months of age. They will lay best at 1 to 2 years of age. All pullets (female chicken under 1 year of age) lay small eggs at first and after a while will lay larger eggs. Younger hens will lay 1 egg every 3-4 days. A hen 30 weeks old can lay 2 eggs every 3 days. Some have been known to lay an egg a day. All breeds have different laying abilities. For more answers to you poultry questions, we have many books and also a video. Guide to Raising Chickens

How long will a hen lay?

Hens can lay as long as 10 years or longer, but their rate of lay will decline over the years. Typically, with each passing year, you can expect to get about 80% as many eggs from your hen as you did the year before.


The productive life of a laying hen is generally considered to be 2-3 years. A general guideline is that by the third year, a hen will lay about 65% as many eggs per year as she did in her first year. By year 5, her laying will have dropped to about 50%, and a 10 year old hen will, on average, only lay about 20% as many eggs as she did her first year. Actual subsequent year egg laying production is dependent on both the breed and the environment.


Surprisingly, there have been reports of even 17 year old hens still laying eggs.

Can you tell if a hen will lay white or brown eggs?

Yes, as a general rule a chicken with red ear lobes will lay brown eggs & a chicken with white ear lobes will be a white egg layer. There are some exceptions. The Araucanas lay blue/green eggs. They are called "The Easter Egg Chicken".

At what temperatures do hens lay eggs the best?

Hens will lay best when the temperature is between 45-80 degrees. For answers to many other poultry questions see Guide to Raising Chickens.

Why do I have to turn the eggs that often in the incubator?

To prevent the embryo from sticking to the shell membrane, it is advised to turn the eggs 3-5 times daily.  Turn the eggs an odd number of times on a regular schedule.  The frequent turning also helps to increase hatchability.

My hatching eggs arrived today, and they feel as cold as ice?  Will they hatch?

Upon delivery of your hatching eggs, please let them sit out at room temperature for 6-12 hours before placing them in the incubator.  Have the incubator up and running at operating temperature.

How many roosters do you need to keep eggs fertile?

To have fertilized eggs, you will need 1 rooster to 8-12 hens & roosters should be isolated by breed with like hens 4-7 days to keep eggs fertile. Hens will lay eggs without a rooster present. Eggs of course will not be fertile. For more answers, we have many books on poultry:

A Guide to Raising Chickens

Chickens in Five Minutes a Day

For a complete listing of our books, see our books page.

Egg Hatching Tips

  1. Have your incubator ready and running at operating temerature.
  2. Upon receving your eggs, let your eggs set at 50 to 60 degrees room temperature (do not refrigerate). Eggs should set for 6 to 12 hours prior to putting into your incubator.
  3. Temperature should be set according to your incubators' manual. Temperatures in general are:
    Chicken, Bobwhite Quail, Chukar Partridge, Pheasant, Guinea: 99 3/4
    Peacock, Goose, Turkey 99 1/4
    Ducks 99 1/2
    Temperatures above are for forced air incubators. Still air incubators require a slightly higher temperature. Still incubators require 1 to 3 degrees higher operating temperature.
  4. During incubation, the eggs should be turned 3 to 5 times per 24 hours if you do not have an automatic turner. (make sure your hands are clean when touching the eggs!) Stop turning the eggs 3 days prior to hatch or remove turner from incubator if using automatic turner. Eggs turned more frequently increases hatchability. Eggs turned odd number of times and on a regular schedule also increases hatchability. In still air models, when turning your eggs, move them to different locations each time to offset temperature variations which occurs in incubators with no fans.
  5. Humidity: Again follow your incubators' manual. In general moisture levels should be: (for first 18 days)
    50 to 55 percent relative humidity
    83 to 87 % f on a wet bulb thermometer

    Three days prior to hatch, humidity level should be
    65 % f
    89 - 90 % f wet bulb. Excessive drying because of low humidity will cause chick to stick to the shell and fail to survive. Also remember too much humidity can cause hatching problems also.

Chick Starter 0-3 Weeks

Crude Proteins (not less then) 22% Lysine (Min) 1.13% Methionine (Min) 0.43% Crude Fat (Min) 2.77% Crude Fiber (Max) 2.62% Calcium (Min) 1.19% Calcium (Max) 1.29% Phosphorus (Min) 0.82% Salt (Min) 0.25%

Ingredients: Gound yellow corn, soybean meal. wheat, monodicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, dl-metionine, choline chloride, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamin E, naicin, copper sulfate, Sodium Selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, d-biotin, vitamin d3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, pyridoxine hydrochloire, vitamen B12 supplement, thiamine, monoitrate, potassium iodide, and folic acid

Duck Starter 0-3 Weeks

Crude Proteins (not less then) 24.0% Lysine (Min) 1.39% Methionine (Min) 0.36% Crude Fat (Min) 5.06% Crude Fiber (Min) 3.68% Calcium (Min) 1.48% Calcium (Max) 1.72% Phosphorus (Min) 0.97% Salt (Min) 0.35%

Ingredients: Soybean meal, ground corn, wheat, flaxseed, fishmeal, mondicalcium phosphate, mondicalcium carbonate, kelp meal, salt, choline chloride, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamen E, niacin, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, d-biotin, vitamin D3, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12, thiamine mononitrate, potassium iodide and folic acid

Turkey Starter 0-6 Weeks

Crude Proteins (not less then) 27.06% Lysine (Min) 1.61% Methionine (Min) 0.66% Crude Fat (Min) 5.45% Crude Fiber (Min) 4.11% Calcium (Min) 1.45% Phosphorus (Min) 1.11% Salt (Min) .18%

Ingredients: Soybean meal, cracked corn, wheat mids, mondicalcium carbonate, salt, dl-methionime, choline chloride, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamen E, niacin, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, d-biotin, vitamin D3, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12, thiamine mononitrate, potassium iodide and folic acid

Chick Grower 4-6 Weeks

Crude Proteins (not less then) 20% Lysine (Min) 1.02% Methionine (Min) 0.39% Crude Fat (Min) 2.77% Crude Fiber (Max) 1.19% Calcium (Min) 1.19% Calcium (Max) 1.29% Phosphorus (Min) 0.89% Salt (Min) 0.25%

Ingredients: Gound yellow corn, soybean meal. wheat mids, monodicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, dl-metionine, choline chloride, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamin E, naicin, copper sulfate, Sodium Selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, d-biotin, vitamin d3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, pyridoxine hydrochloire, vitamen B12 supplement, thiamine, monoitrate, potassium iodide, and folic acid

Duck Grower 3-7 Weeks

Crude Proteins (not less then) 22.0% Lysine (Min) 0.93% Methionine (Min) 0.29% Crude Fat (Min) 3.65% Crude Fiber (Max) 3.65% Calcium (Min) 1.04% Calcium (Max) 2.10% Phosphorus (Min) 0.72% Salt (Min) 0.30%

Ingredients: Soybean meal, ground corn, wheat, oats, fishmeal, flaxseed, mondicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, kelp meal, salt, choline chloride, calcium iodite, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, potassium iodide and folic acid

Turkey Grower 6-10 Weeks

Crude Proteins (not less then) 24.00% Lysine (Min) 1.43% Methionine (Min) 0.56% Crude Fat (Min) 5.23% Crude Fiber (Min) 3.89% Calcium (Min) 1.30% Phosphorus (Min) 0.94% Salt (Min) .16%

Ingredients: Soybean meal, cracked corn, wheat mids, mondicalcium carbonate, salt, dl-methionime, choline chloride, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamen E, niacin, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, d-biotin, vitamin D3, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12, thiamine mononitrate, potassium iodide and folic acid

Broiler Finisher 7 Weeks +

Crude Proteins (not less then) 18% Lysine (Min) 0.85% Methionine (Min) 0.41% Crude Fat (Min) 1.82% Crude Fiber (Max) 2.96% Calcium (Min) 1.24% Calcium (Max) 1.34% Phosphorus (Min) 0.77% Salt (Min) 0.32%

Ingredients: Gound yellow corn, soybean meal. wheat mids, monodicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, dl-metionine, choline chloride, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamin E, naicin, copper sulfate, Sodium Selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, d-biotin, vitamin d3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, pyridoxine hydrochloire, vitamen B12 supplement, thiamine, monoitrate, potassium iodide and folic acid

Duck Finisher 8 Weeks +

Crude Proteins (not less then) 18.0% Lysine (Min) 0.71% Methionine (Min) 0.22% Crude Fat (Min) 3.41% Crude Fiber (Max) 6.75% Calcium (Min) 1.57% Calcium (Max) 1.64% Phosphorus (Min) 0.71% Salt (Min) 0.43%

Ingredients: Ground yellow corn, soybean meal, wheat, oats, flaxseed, fishmeal, mondicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, kelp meal, salt, choline chloride, calcium iodite, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, potassium iodide and folic acid

Turkey Finisher 8 Weeks +

Crude Proteins (not less then) 19.00% Lysine (Min) 0.99% Methionine (Min) 0.38% Crude Fat (Min) 4.66% Crude Fiber (Max) 3.35% Calcium (Min) 1.10% Phosphorus (Min) 0.75% Salt (Min) .17%

Ingredients: Soybean meal, cracked corn, ground flax seed, oats, wheat mids, mondicalcium carbonate, salt, dl-methionime, choline chloride, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamen E, niacin, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, d-biotin, vitamin D3, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12, thiamine mononitrate, potassium iodide and folic acid

Layer/Breeder 10 Weeks +

Crude Proteins (not less then) 16% Lysine (Min) 0.70% Methionine (Min) 0.27% Crude Fat (Min) 1.48% Crude Fiber (Max) 2.76% Calcium (Min) 1.06% Calcium (Max) 1.16% Phosphorus (Min) 0.70% Salt (Min) 0.20%

Ingredients: Gound yellow corn, soybean meal, oats, wheat mids, monodicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, dl-metionine, choline chloride, manganous oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamin E, naicin, copper sulfate, Sodium Selenite, vitamin A acetate in gelatin, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, d-biotin, vitamin d3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfate complex, pyridoxine hydrochloire, vitamen B12 supplement, thiamine, monoitrate, potassium iodide, and folic acid

Do you have any information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and poultry?

For information regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its relationship to poultry and poultry products, please visit our updated biosecurity page (https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/biosecurity.html) where we have posted answers to common questions and concerns as well as biosecurity guidance for our customers and poultry owners.

What is Coccidiosis and how do I control the disease?

Keeping small poultry flocks healthy and productive requires skilled husbandry practices. We are now offering a coccidiosis vaccine to help you manage your flock. Coccidia are common protozoan parasites. They are present in almost all chicken yards and can lay dormant for years until chickens are introduced. Heavy infections of coccidia cause serious disease and may kill many chickens. Chickens of all ages can come down with coccidiosis, but 4- to 16-week-old chickens are most commonly affected. Wet litter, poor nutrition and concurrent diseases are the most common triggers of coccidiosis. We do vaccinations here at the hatchery, because it is best to vaccinate chicks at 1-3 days of age. A successful vaccination will provide long-lasting immunity.
PLEASE READ: To reduce the threat of coccidiosis you should either: 1) Have us vaccinate your birds and not use medicated feed. OR 2) Use a medicated feed containing a coccidiostat. ORGANIC GROWERS: Vaccinations are in compliance with the NOP/USDA organic standards. You should verify with your certifying agency before having us vaccinate your chicks.

For more answers to your health care questions: Chicken Health Handbook, Guide to Raising Chickens.

What is Marek's Disease and how do I control the disease?

Marek’s is a widespread disease affecting domestic chickens in all sections of the world. It is characterized by lesions affecting the nervous system, organs, and other tissues. Young chickens under 16 weeks of age are most susceptible. There is no treatment for Marek’s once the birds are infected. Chicks must be vaccinated as close to the time of hatch as possible for the vaccine to be effective. We vaccinate all of our own breeding stock and strongly feel that you should do the same. Vaccinating your birds for Marek's is another appropriate step in strong poultry management. Don’t take any chances. Let us vaccinate your chicks prior to shipment of your order. Don’t forget to mark your order blank in the appropriate location for vaccination.

What is Newcastle Disease?

All species of birds are at risk of getting this disease

What is Newcastle Disease?

Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting all species of birds, both domestic and wild. END is one of the most infectious diseases of poultry in the world. It is probably the most serious disease of chickens throughout the world. In susceptible chickens, death rates may exceed 95%.

What causes Newcastle Disease?

Newcastle Disease is caused by a Paramyxovirus. It is very resistant and survives a pH of 2 to 12, heating to 130° F (56° C) for 3 hours, and can survive freezing indefinitely. Extended drying and ultraviolet light will kill the virus. END virus can survive for several weeks in the warmth and humid environment of a poultry production unit on feathers, in manure, and other materials.

What are the signs and symptoms of Newcastle Disease?

END affects the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems. The incubation period ranges from 2 to 15 days. Affected birds may exhibit the following signs:

  • Respiratory: sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing;
  • Digestive: greenish, watery diarrhea;
  • Nervous: depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete paralysis;
  • Partial to complete drop in egg production;
  • Production of thin shelled eggs;
  • Swelling of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck;
  • Sudden death;
  • Increased death loss in flock.

How does Exotic Newcastle Disease spread from farm-to-farm, bird-to-bird?

Healthy birds are infected when there is direct contact with infected bodily discharges of infected birds such as droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. Close confinement causes a rapid spread of disease among birds. All bodily discharges contain high concentration of END virus. Therefore, the virus-bearing material can be picked up on insects, rodents, containers, shoes and clothing and carried from a sick flock to a healthy flock. Any person on the infected farm can spread END virus including manure haulers, rendering truck drivers, vaccination and debeaking crews, egg service people, load-out crews, chick and poultry delivery personnel, and poultry farm owners, employees, and visitors.

Are pet birds at risk of END?

Smuggling pet birds, especially Amazon parrots pose a great risk of introducing END. Amazon parrots that are carriers of END but do not show symptoms are capable of shedding END virus for more than 400 days. All species of birds are capable of becoming infected and transmitting this disease.

Are humans at risk of getting END?

END does not pose a threat to humans. Eggs and inspected slaughter poultry are safe for food. Conjunctivitis has occurred in diagnosticians and pathologists after examining infected birds.

Are waterfowl and migratory birds at risk of spreading Newcastle disease?

Yes, cormorants and pelicans were identified with Newcastle disease in 1992 in Minnesota, South Dakota, Michigan and Canada. One South Dakota poultry site and two North Dakota poultry sites were affected. This episode of Newcastle Disease was not the same strain of END that occurred in California in 1998 and now in 2003, or that occurred in Mexico in 2000.

What can poultry producers do to lessen the risk of introducing this disease to their birds?

1. Permit only essential workers and vehicles on premises. Ensure no shipping articles, equipment, or personnel have contact with quarantined areas.
2. Provide clean clothing and disinfection facilities for employees.
3. Clean and disinfect vehicles (including tires and undercarriages) entering and leaving the premises.
4. Avoid visiting other poultry operations.
5. Maintain an “all-in and all-out” philosophy of flock management with a single age flock.

  • Control the movement of all poultry products from farm to farm.
  • Do not “skim” mature birds from a flock for sale to a live-poultry market.
  • Clean and disinfect poultry houses between each lot of birds.

6. Do not keep pet birds on the farm. Do not hire employees who own pet birds.
7. Exclude vaccination crews, catching crews, and other service personnel who may have been in contact with a poultry operation within 24 hours.
8. Protect flocks from wild birds that may try to nest in poultry houses or feed with domesticated birds.
9. Control movement associated with the disposal and handling of bird carcasses, litter, and manure.
10. Immediately report any suspicious illness or death loss to the state veterinarian.
11. Take diseased birds to a diagnostic laboratory for examination as directed by the state veterinarian.
12. Consider END surveillance as part of on-going disease surveillance activities.

What can pet birds and backyard poultry enthusiasts do to prevent and control END?

1. Follow state law, obtain a health certificate on birds directly imported from other states.
2. Require certification from suppliers that birds are legally imported or are of US stock and healthy prior to shipment, and will be transported in new or thoroughly disinfected containers.
3. Maintain records and shipment of flocks.
4. Isolate all newly purchased birds for at least 30 days. Restrict movement of personnel between new and old birds.
5. Practice Biosecurity.
6. Report unusual illness or death to the state veterinarian.

Are your exotic pet birds legally imported?

END is a threat to the caged-bird industry and poultry hobbyists. Birds illegally smuggled into the US are not quarantined and tested on entry. Anyone who is offering to sell young parrots should be suspected of smuggling or purchasing smuggled birds. Amazon parrots can be carriers of END and can shed the virus for more than 400 days.

What is being done to prevent END from being introduced into US birds?

USDA-APHIS requires that all imported birds (poultry, pet birds, birds exhibited to zoos, and ratites) be tested and quarantined for disease before entering the country.

Why the excitement about Exotic Newcastle Disease?

END is classified as a Foreign Animal Disease when found in the US. A foreign animal disease is defined as an important transmissible livestock and poultry disease believed to be absent from the US and its territories that has a potential significant health or economic impact. Not only is there the high death rates, severe illness, and production losses; there is almost immediate and severe loss of export markets.

What is the export value of poultry products from the US?

Total US exports of poultry meat in 2001 were valued at $2.1 billion. US exports of eggs were valued at $151 million in 2001.

Are ring neck pheasants susceptible to END?

Yes, death losses may be quite significant, and re-building the population may take many years.

For more information:

Visit the USDA website.

Do you have any information on Salmonella?

Below are links to several brochures from various organizations which provide information on Salmonella, food handling, and biosecurity:

McMurray Hatchery has always and will continue to work diligently to produce the healthiest chicks possible.  We test for Salmonella along with many other diseases, and there has not been an issue with our parent stock or the chicks we send to you.

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) implemented a new Salmonella Monitoring Program early this year. This program includes vaccination and testing for Salmonella. McMurray Hatchery has already vaccinated our parent stock and has increased our testing and monitoring.

 

The best way to control any poultry disease is proper management of your flock. Here are some key items to keep in mind:

  • Educate. Educate yourself and your family about raising poultry. There are many excellent books available. We recommend Guide to Raising Chickens or The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow. You may also want to contact your local Extension Office to find out what classes and materials they have available. Friends and family who have raised chicken for many years can also be an excellent source of help and information.
  • Clean. Keep your pens, equipment, coops, and chicken yards clean and disinfected. Make sure waterers and feeders are clean and filled with fresh water and feed at all times. We carry several disinfectants that you can use for cleaning coops, pens, and equipment: Virocid, Tek-Trol, and Quat-a-mone.
  • Protect. Keep your birds away from wild birds, rodents, and other animals that can carry germs and diseases. Diseases can be carried into your coop accidentally. Wash and disinfect footwear, tools, equipment, and other items before entering your coop.  Keep new birds separated (quarantined) for at least 30 days before introducing them into your flock.
  • Watch. Keep an eye on your flock.  Isolate and treat sick birds right away.

 

When keeping your own poultry, the responsibility falls on you to keep your birds healthy and happy. You can trust us to do our part, supplying you with healthy chicks.

 

What better way to know your food is safe than to raise or grow it yourself?

 

Why do chickens peck at each other & what can we do about it?

Chickens will peck for a number of reasons. They can be: too hot, too crowded, not enough fresh air or short of feeder or waterer space, or to establish the "leader" of the flock. To stop it, try fresh grass clippings, weeds, and lettuce in the pen. In cold weather, fresh hay works. Darken the hen house. Use milk blocks. As a last resort you can debeak, cutting 1/3rd of the top bill & just the tip of the bottom bill by using a debeaker/trimmer. Other products offered to help prevent this problem are: Poly Peepers (like blinders), antipick lotions or sprays: Hot Pick.

At what age do chickens molt (lose feathers/natural process)?

Chickens will molt at about 18 months of age. Molting is where they lose all or some of their feathers and stop producing eggs. This is a natural shedding of feathers. Molting may take 2 to 4 months. Laying will resume when molt is over, but may not be as good as before molt process. For answers to many more of your poultry questions, we recommend the book Guide to Raising Chickens.

How long will a chicken molt

Under natural circumstances a chicken will molt for 14 to 16 weeks during the late summer or early fall. The more prolific layers will start their molt early and molt very slowly. This is why some birds will look unthrifty for a time while this is taking place. For more information on molting and many other chicken questions see Guide to Raising Chickens.

How do I determine the sex of my poultry

We have professional sexors that sex our poultry at time of hatch. We sex ducks, chickens, and geese. All other poultry are straight run only. We sex our poultry by vent sexing and this take a highly trained eye. Feather sexing can be done on some breeds at time of hatch.

What is a dropping board?

A dropping board is a large flat board (often plywood) placed underneath the roosts in a chicken coop. It is intended to catch the droppings from the chickens while roosting at night.

The dropping board is easy to remove from the coop so that it can be cleaned frequently, even daily. Using a dropping board can help to keep the coop floor and bedding cleaner.

How much space do my chickens need?

Giving your chickens plenty of room is important because it helps prevent disease, pecking and other problems. The amount of space they'll need depends on the size of your chickens.

For heavy breeds, like Barred Rocks or Buff Orpingtons, if your chickens are only confined to the coop at night and allowed to forage during the day, we recommend using a coop that provides at least 4 square feet per bird. A 6 foot by 8 foot coop would provide 48 square feet, which is ample space for 12 birds. For heavy breeds that are confined to a coop or a coop with a run, we recommend that you provide at least 10 square feet per bird.

For light breeds, like the Pearl White Leghorn, if the birds are allowed outside to forage during the day, we recommend providing at least 3 square feet per bird for the coop in which they are housed at night. A 6 foot by 8 foot coop (48 square feet) would provide housing for up to 16 birds. If your chickens are confined to the coop or coop and run, we recommend providing at least 7 1/2 square feet per bird.

Bantams are smaller than standard breeds and require less space. This is one reason they are popular in backyard flocks. If your bantams are able to forage outside the coop during the day, we recommend at least 2 square feet per bird. A 4 foot by 4 foot coop would provide space for 8 bantams. If you keep them confined to the coop or a coop and run, we recommend giving them at least 5 square feet per bird.

How far should my nest be off the floor?

By nature, hens like dark out of the way places for laying eggs. The nest you provide can encourage them to lay where you can get at the eggs for collection. Nest boxes for heavy breeds should be about 14" wide by 14" high by 12" deep. Allow one nest for every 4 to 5 hens. Nesting boxes can be purchased. Nests should be 18 to 20 inches off he ground. See the book Guide to Raising Chickens for many more answers to your poultry questions.

Minimum Orders for Ducklings

The minimum order for ducklings and goslings is 2 birds. You can mix and match as few as one of any breed of duckling or gosling in an order. Orders of 10+ baby waterfowl ship free. Orders of 2-9 baby waterfowl have a $45 small order fee which covers special handling, boxing, and heat packs. We can no longer ship ducks and geese to be exported outside the US

Nutritional Needs for Ducks

FEED

  • 0-2 WEEKS OLD: 22-22.5% Waterfowl Starter Crumble — If you can't find a 22% starter feed, use a 20+% protein starter feed and use it for a full 4 weeks.
  • 3 WEEKS THROUGH FIRST EGG: 17.5-19% Waterfowl Grower Crumble
  • DURING EGG PRODUCTION: 17.5% Waterfowl Layer Pellet
  • BETWEEN LAYING SEASONS: 14.5-16% Waterfowl Maintenance Pellet

Duck Order Cancellations

Cancellations and changes to orders for waterfowl must be made by 12:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery. A $10.00 late cancellation fee will be applied to any cancellations made between 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery. NO CANCELLATIONS CAN BE MADE AFTER THAT TIME.

Duckling Leg Bands and Identification

If your birds were sexed and identified with colored bands, remove the bands upon arrival. See below for leg band colors to help identify your baby ducklings:

  • Yellow — Black Swedish, Duclair, Blue Runner
  • Red — Blue Swedish, Buff, Welsh Harlequin
  • Purple — Cayuga, Khaki Campbell, Mallard, Pekin
  • Blue — Golden Star Hybrid
  • Green — Jumbo Pekin, Rouen, Chocolate Runner, Saxony
  • Orange — Silver Appleyard, White Star Hybrid
  • White — Black Runner, Fawn and White Runner,
  • Black — White Crested

How many male ducks should I keep, and will they fight like roosters?

With ducks, problems arise when you have too many males. They can become aggressive sexually and harm weaker females. For small flocks of 10 or less ducks, you can keep pairs. For larger flocks of over 10 ducks, the ratio should be one male for every three to five females. We recommend larger areas for larger flocks.

Generally, ducks and geese do not prolong the pecking order scuffle as long as chickens tend to.

How do ducks and geese get angel wing?

 All geese & ducks are susceptible to Angel Wing (twisted wing). This is caused by feeding high levels of protein when they are growing and provided little room for exercise. In order to prevent this from happening, you will need to reduce the protein levels of their feed down to 14-15% when they are 3 - 5 weeks of age, and 11 - 13 % from 5 -16 weeks of age. After they are 16 weeks of age, the condition will not occur.

Minimum Orders for Goslings

The minimum order for ducklings and goslings is 2 birds. You can mix and match as few as one of any breed of duckling or gosling in an order. Orders of 10+ baby waterfowl ship free. Orders of 2-9 baby waterfowl have a $45 small order fee which covers special handling, boxing, and heat packs.

Goose Order Cancellations

Cancellations and changes to orders for waterfowl must be made by 12:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery. A $10.00 late cancellation fee will be applied to any cancellations made between 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM Central on the Friday before scheduled delivery. NO CANCELLATIONS CAN BE MADE AFTER THAT TIME.

Gosling Leg Bands and Identification

If your birds were sexed and identified with colored bands, remove the bands upon arrival. See below for leg band colors to help identify your baby goslings:

  • Yellow — Buff
  • Red — Embden
  • Blue — Pilgrim
  • Green — Toulouse
  • Orange — Brown Chinese, Sebastopol, White Chinese
  • Black — African, Tufted Roman

Nutritional Needs for Geese

FEED

  • 0-2 WEEKS OLD: 22-22.5% Waterfowl Starter Crumble — If you can't find a 22% starter feed, use a 20+% protein starter feed and use it for a full 4 weeks.
  • 3 WEEKS THROUGH FIRST EGG: 17.5-19% Waterfowl Grower Crumble
  • DURING EGG PRODUCTION: 15.5% Waterfowl Layer Pellet
  • FOR MEAT PRODUCTION: 16% Waterfowl High Gain Pellet — Add 40mg/kg of Zinc Methionine and increase Vitamin K to 50 mg/kg and Vitamin E to 5 mg/kg for 3-4 weeks prior to processing to help prevent bruising.
  • BETWEEN LAYING SEASONS: 14.5-16% Waterfowl Maintenance Pellet

How many male geese should I keep, and will they fight like roosters?

Geese can be kept as pairs easily. In larger flocks, a ration of one gander for every two to four females is ideal.

Generally, ducks and geese do not prolong the pecking order scuffle as long as chickens tend to.

General information about Geese

  • A male goose is called a GANDER, and the female is called a GOOSE.
  • A GAGGLE is a group of geese.
  • Geese are used in weeding tobacco, cotton, mint, strawberry, asparagus, corn, sugar cane, sugar beets, and flower fields, as well as vineyards, nurseries and fruit orchards. They are not good for weeding your vegetable garden and will eat its contents.
  • Wild geese are faithful, mate for life, and sometimes refuse to stop mourning when their mate dies.

Which turkey breed is the best for meat?

Most prefer the the Broadbreasted Bronze or Giant White.

The best heritage breeds for butchering are the Bourbon Red, Chocolate, Standard Bronze and Black Spanish.

These heritage breeds are also good for butchering but will be smaller - White Holland, Midget White and Royal Palm.

Feeding your turkeys

Turkeys need to be started on a game bird or turkey starter of no less than 24% protein.  This is necessary for proper leg development. 

How long until turkeys are ready to butcher?

The general time frame for butchering all turkeys is 20-25 weeks.

Answers to questions about Guineas

  1. Guineas are wonderful fowl for bug and insect control. Many people buy them and use them to control ticks for the prevention of Lyme´s disease.
  2. The cry of the female guinea sounds like she is saying "Buckwheat, Buckwheat, Buckwheat".
  3. Guineas will lay from 50 to 100 eggs per year.
  4. Guineas have dark meat that resembles pheasant meat and is considered a delicacy in many fine restaurants.

How long can a chicken live?

A chicken can live between 10-15 years although there have been instances where they have lived longer. For many more answers to your poultry questions we recommend the book: Guide to Raising Chickens

What does McMurray Hatchery think about the National Animal Identification System?(NAIS)

Murray McMurray Hatchery - by all means - is concerned about the effect the animal identification legislation will have on our customers.

We understand the difficulty the Agriculture Department is having in trying to initiate this program. They have dropped the idea of having a national system by 2009. It is not feasible to do in that amount of time. They have also dropped plans to start a single privately held database where all farm data would be held. Instead they plan to allow state and privately managed databases to develop - over time. They have turned the responsibility of issuing premise ID numbers over to the states. The states have only had about 10 percent participation through that registration. All of this shows there is tremendous opposition to this program and how very difficult it will be to initiate, regulate, finalize, and enforce.

Without knowing specifics as to exactly what is proposed in all 50 states and how things are going to be done in those states, Murray McMurray Hatchery is opposed to the mandatory participation in this program and has expressed such to our congressional members. We feel it will have an undue hardship on our customers, the small farmers and hobbyist throughout this country.

Can I order turkeys & chickens to come together?   Or ducks & chicks?

Sorry, we are unable to ship day old chicks with other types of fowl.  We hatch at different facilities, separating the species for disease purposes.

How do I order a gift certificate?

The easiest way to order a Gift Certificate is to go to Order Gift Certificate. Gift Certificates can also be ordered via the phone by calling 800-456-3280. We can email the Gift Certificate or send it by postal mail.
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