CHICKEN FAQ

How do I place a chick order? 

First, take a look at the list of breeds we have available here. Once you've decided which chicks you would like, take a look at the supplies needed for raising them to figure out if you need to order anything along with the chicks. You can then decide when you would like to pick them up, keeping in mind that they need to be indoors under a heat lamp for about 6-8 weeks. Once you've decided these things, send us an email at order@eggplantsupply with your name, phone number, requested delivery date, and chick picks. We ask that you send in your order at least two weeks before your preferred delivery date. Once we get your email we'll respond to confirm your order and let you know if there's any other information we need. After that, all you need to do is call or visit the store to prepay for your order so that pick-up day can go as smoothly as possible. Once your order is confirmed and paid for, simply wait until your delivery date and then you can get your chicks! 


Do I need a permit to keep chickens?
If you live in the Twin Cities or any of its suburbs that allow chickens, you will almost certainly need a permit before you can get them. The first thing you should do when applying for a permit is find out if it's actually legal to keep chickens in your area. There are also usually requirements for the number of chickens you can own, the amount of space each bird needs, and the coop's location in your yard. The requirements vary by municipality so we recommend checking on your local laws before building a coop or purchasing chicks. 


When do the chicks arrive at Egg|Plant?

Our chicks typically arrive every Thursday from the end of February to the beginning of July. In 2022 the first delivery date was February 24th and the last was July 14th. On delivery days, the chicks usually arrive at the post office early in the morning and we pick them up and get them settled under a heat lamp before we open at 10 am. This way the chicks will have had water and food and been under a light for a bit when you pick them up. 


How are the chicks shipped?
The chicks are shipped overnight from Rudd, Iowa via the USPS. They are packed into boxes the day they're hatched and kept on the warm mail van until they're delivered to the post office on Concordia Ave in St. Paul where we pick them up in the morning. They are packed pretty tightly so they keep each other warm and the boxes are well-ventilated so they can breathe.


How do I pick up my chicks from Egg|Plant? 

Simply come to the store on your confirmed delivery day, tell us your name and we'll put your chicks into their take-home box. We won't call you on your pick-up day unless something about the timing of the delivery has changed or if the hatchery didn't send us the right chicks. There have been occasions where we didn't receive the right number of chicks or the chicks were delivered to the post office after 10am (one time they were even a whole day late and still healthy!). If anything like that happens, we'll call to let you know. If you don't get a call from us in the morning on your pick-up day, feel free to show up any time between 10am and 8pm. If you know you won't be able to pick them up on Thursday, please let us know in your email and we can keep them at the store until the weekend.


What are the best breeds?
We think all breeds of chickens are wonderful! That being said, it ultimately depends on what you are looking for in a chicken. Do you want lots of eggs? Do you want a colorful egg basket? Do you want chickens that are especially good around children? Do you want heritage breed chickens? Do you need chickens that are cold hardy? (If you are keeping chickens here in Minnesota, the answer is yes!) Once you decide which qualities are most important for your situation, it can be easier to narrow down which breed or breeds may be best for you!


Do I have to get all the same breed?

No! In fact, a lot of our customers get an assortment. This is for many reasons, some people want a variety of feather colors and patterns, some people want all of the different egg colors, some people want chickens of a certain temperament or size, and some people just like to mix things up. Because they'll all be raised together from almost birth, they'll just see each other as the rest of the flock regardless of how they look. This doesn't mean that they'll all automatically get along, but that would be true even if you did have all the same breed, so why not have fun picking out your favorites? That being said, getting all the same breed is also just fine. We're not in the business of judging your chick choices, we just want them to be happy and healthy!


How many chicks should I get?

First, you should check if your city or municipality has a permit requirement, which many do. That should tell you how many you can legally keep. It is common for permit requirements to include space minimums per bird for the coop and run, spacing or placement requirements in relation to your neighbors, and sometimes even specifications for your coop.  A common backyard flock is 3-6 hens depending on how much space you have in your coop and yard. If you live in the country or have a lot of space and the requisite permits, you can get any number. We don't have a minimum order requirement, but raising a single chick by itself is strongly discouraged. Chicks have an innate flock mentality and will be extremely stressed and may not survive without the companionship of another chicken. We also retain the right to decide if an order is too large for our store/brooder capacity. 


What do I do if I get a rooster?

The hatchery guarantees a 90% accuracy rate and does a great job of sexing, so while it does happen, it isn't very common. That said, when you buy live chicks you do take on the risk of getting a rooster instead of a hen in your flock so we ask that you think that through before starting your flock this way.  If you want to minimize your chance of getting a rooster, you may want to consider one of our sex-linked or auto-sexing chicken breeds. When these breeds hatch, the males and females have different coloring or markings which makes them easier to sex and you are almost certain to get a female.


As the seller (not the breeder or sexer) we are unfortunately not able to offer a refund or replacement if you do end up with a rooster.  We are also not able to take back roosters for rehoming. Feedback from customers suggests that most people who get a rooster have been able to find a farm or person with a lot of space who is willing to adopt him. There are online community groups such as Twin Cities Chickens or Minnesota Backyard Chicken and Poultry Facebook groups. Some people have also had luck posting on Craigslist or Nextdoor.


How long do chicks need to be kept inside?

Chicks should be kept in a brooder under a heat lamp for the first 6-8 weeks. In Minnesota, you may have to take the outdoor temperature into account when deciding when to move your chicks outside.


What should I feed my chicks?
Chicks should be fed a complete and balanced chick starter feed containing 18-20% protein. They should have free access to as much food and clean water as they want at all times. Starter feed should be fed for a minimum of 8 weeks. Some brands are formulated to be fed until point of lay, with others you may need to switch to grower feed. We recommend waiting until chicks are 2-3 weeks old before introducing any treats. Once treats are introduced, chicks will also need a source of grit in order to be able to digest the treats. 


What kind of bedding do my chicks need in the brooder?

Chicks should be kept on paper towels for the first 3-5 days. During these first few days they are still learning what is appropriate to eat and eating too much bedding can be harmful. We recommend that you do NOT use newspaper - it is too slippery and can cause leg problems. After 3-5 days, chicks can be switched to pine shavings or sand.

How often should I clean?
The frequency of cleaning will depend on the size of your brooder, the number of chicks, and your comfort level. Daily spot cleaning will greatly reduce the frequency needed for a more thorough clean out. It's important to clean out any spilled water or wet bedding promptly to prevent mold and bacterial growth.


When will my chickens start laying?
On average, chickens start laying around 20-22 weeks of age. However, this can vary depending on the breed of chicken and the time of year. Chickens will be the most productive in their first two years. After that, the number of eggs they lay each year will typically decline. Chickens in Minnesota generally lay fewer eggs in the winter when the daylight hours are shorter.

How long do chickens live?
The average chicken lifespan is 5-10 years. However, chicken life spans can vary based on their breed and living conditions. 


Do you sell chicken coops?

Unfortunately, we don't carry chicken coops at this time. Our store is quite small, so we don't have much space for things that big. We do sell several books about building your own coop with options for both the complete beginner or someone just looking for interesting design ideas. Coops can also be purchased online (The Chicken Housing Authority or Cozy Coops & Sheds are two local businesses in MN), or second hand (i.e. Craigslist or Nextdoor). You can also sometimes find local woodworkers who would be willing to build a coop.


Do you sell brooders?

We don't sell brooders for much the same reason we don't sell coops; they take up a lot of space that we just don't have available. Brooders can be made from large cardboard boxes, dog kennels, kiddie pools, plastic totes, or built out of wood. It's important for brooders to have a screen or wire top to keep chicks contained and safe and allow good air flow without being too drafty. Always use caution and monitor heat lamps for fire risk.


Do you sell older chicks or fertilized eggs?

The answer here is also no. We just don't have the resources or space available to care for older pullets. Our chick brooder takes up enough space as is! We've sent many customers to Anoka Ramsey Farm & Garden who sometimes have pullets available, and there are often farms around the Twin Cities that sell fertilized eggs.


What if I need to cancel my order?

If you need to cancel an order, we totally understand; stuff happens. If you let us know about the cancellation a week or more before your delivery date, we would be happy to give you a refund of whatever form of payment you used or a store credit. If you cancel within a week of your delivery date, we will unfortunately only be able to issue a refund in the form of a store credit gift card.


What happens if I have a chick that doesn't survive?

​If you have a chick that seems sick or dies in the first couple of days after pick-up, please report it to us as soon as you can. We are happy to provide refunds or replacements for chicks that don't survive the first 48 hours. If you notice that one of your chicks doesn't seem healthy, call us right away and we can try to advise on the best next steps. If 48 hours pass and your sick chicks dies, we would be happy to do a replacement or refund as long as we are aware of the issue before the first 48 hours are over which is the window of time in which we can report losses to the hatchery. 


What if I want a breed that you don't offer?

We would love to help you get the chicken of your dreams! We get our chicks through Hoover's Hatchery so we are limited to the breeds that they carry and their availability. Chicks sell out quickly in the spring so please contact us as soon as possible for special orders. There is a $10 special order fee (in addition to the cost of the chick) for each different breed of chicken ordered.