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Buyers' checklist

Buyers'checklist as published in Country Smallholding magazine (A.Cawthray Country Smallholding magazine October 2012).

  • Ask to see the parent birds and where the young birds were reared. Good breeders will be happy to show you around their set-up, although some areas could be restricted for good reason as a bio-security measure; they will explain that if it's the case.
  • Most of my birds are on view within Too Hoots Animal World (there is a charge to go round). However, a selection are on view all the time and young birds are also on view all the time. Please ask to see other breeds.
  • Ask if and when the birds were wormed and/or vaccinated and what with, and ask how old the birds are. Good breeders will keep records and will be able to provide you with these details.
  • All the birds I rear are reared on a quality feeding programme to ensure all birds are healthy. This includes day old to 6 weeks old are on Chick Curmbs ACS (Farmgate or BATA), 6 weeks old to 16 weeks old are on Rearer/Grower ACS (Farmgate or BATA) and 16 weeks plus are on Layers Pellets (Thompsons of York or Farmgate). The birds are wormed on a reqular basis and some birds are vaccinated. Birds that are 16 weeks plus have garlic added to their feed during the summer months. Apple Vineger Cider is also added to their water, the amount varies depending on how old the birds are.
  • Check there is a returns policy. Good breeders will always be clear as to whether the stock they are selling is unsexed or sexed; however, mistakes do happen and a good breeder will exchange or provide a refund in such an event. If birds are sold unsexed then the buyer takes the risk. This normally applies to day old to 6 weeks old and Polands upto 16 weeks old. All birds sold as hens or cockerels will be replaced if I have have got it wrong.
  • Check there is a guarantee period. Good breeders will provide a period of around one to two weeks where the birds can be returned or refund given if an underlaying health problem emerges.
  • I will replace any bird that is ill or dies in the first couple of weeks.
  • Always ask to hold the birds and check them over first before committing to buy. Good breeders will be more than happy to have their stock checked by a buyer before they are sold.
  • All birds for sale can be viewed and/or held before buying.
  • Be patient and be prepared to wait for stock to become available. Good breeders are likely to have a waiting list for the birds they produce each season.
  • I try to have point of lay hens like Ranger and ISA Warren Brown all year round. I do have waiting list for some rare breeds. Please note incubation is 3 weeks, most breeds are then sexed by 10 weeks old.
  • Ask questions. There isn't a good breeder I know who woundn't be happy to chat about chickens!
  • I will talk to anybody who will listen about my chickens and chickens in general! As I work I can only answer text and email during the day. However you can call me in an evening or at weekends. Weekends are also the best time to visit.