There are several really good reasons why you should hatch your own chicks. There are also several really good reasons why you should buy them already hatched. If they're going to be your first chicks then I would buy them already hatched just to skip the incubation learning curve the first time around (wish somebody would have told me that years ago!) If you're adding to your flock it may be easier to get fertile eggs and let a broody hatch them for you. That way you can skip the brooder hassle. Lets look at the different reasons you might want to buy vs hatch your own chicks.
Buying chicks from a feed store or mail order hatchery:
- Vaccinations. You can request chicks be vaccinated for various disease when ordering from a hatchery. Many feed stores get their chicks vaccinated, you can ask them for this info.
- Breed options: Limited by what a feed store, hatchery or breeder who ships chicks live offers. (many breeders do not ship chicks) Exotic breeds not easily available. High production egg layers are common.
- Minimums: Shipped chick orders tend to have a minimum of 20-25 chicks per order. Buying from a feed store allows you to skip the shipping minimum but still might have a 6 chick minimum.
- Sex options: You can choose from the pullet bin if you want all girls or go for straight run if you want a mix.
- Shipping stress: The stress of shipping sometimes causes chicks to just keel over within the first few days.
- You don't have to worry about a broody hen giving up too early or using an incubator.
- Cost: Generally feed store chicks are only a few dollars each and many stores discount them after they've been there a week or two. Hatchery's often give volume discounts.
Hatching chicks from eggs:
- Vaccinations: None unless you do them yourself.
- Breed options: As long as you can find a breeder to ship eggs, you can hatch almost any breed. Many breeders ship eggs. Exotic breeds available. High production egg layers are not as common.
- Minimums: I've seen breeders ship as few as 3 eggs.
- Sex options: None. Whatever hatches is what you get.
- Shipping stress: This can impact the hatch rate resulting in a hatch as varied as none or all eggs hatching.
- Incubator or broody hen is a necessity.
- Cost: Breeders can get expensive depending on the quality of the bloodlines. You can get excellent stock if you're looking to get into breeding or showing.