I have observed the average cost to purchase chickens in the urban parts of Los Angeles County and suburban Orange County is higher than other areas, especially compared to what is reported in other parts of the county. When I look around further inland on BYC or craigslist toward Lancaster, Riverside, or San Bernadino, the costs generally decrease slightly. On the flip side, there seems to be more free roosters listed around here, since most folks can’t keep them. Check craigslist.com, Meet Up “Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts,” Yahoo group “California Chickens,” and www.backyardchickens.com for listing of chickens for sale. Sometimes feed stores and humane societies have chickens available too. It seems started birds are more expensive and harder to find in the winter and early spring, and there is more of a glut in the summer and early fall.
*For organic chickens, expect to pay $5 to $10 more per bird than what is listed below because they are harder to come by and they are twice as expensive to feed to maturity. I opted to raise our own organically from day olds partially because of that reason, as well as we wanted kid friendly chickens.
Baby chicks (day old up to still needing supplemental heat/up to 8 weeks)
- Straight run bantams from Blacksmith’s Corner in Lakewood $9.95 to $12.95 each, (not vaccinated)
- Pullet Large Fowl chicks from Blacksmith’s Corner in Lakewood $5, (not vaccinated)
- Midway City Feed (best deal I have seen) $2 each for assorted varieties of LF pullets or straight run bantams, (not vaccinated) Update: I think their price may have gone up to $3.
- Other feed stores: $4 and up
- Breeders around SoCal charge anywhere from $5 to $25, depending on if they are show quality, pet quality, pullets, age, DNA sexed Silkies, etc.
Mail Order (most hatcheries have a 25 chick minimum)
- Day old chicks-Large Fowl pullets direct from a hatchery with shipping included, about $3.50 each ( can order vaccinations)
- Day old bantam chicks- direct from a hatchery with shipping included, about $4.50 each ( can order vaccinations.) One big negative = Usually straight run only.
- For small orders try www.mypetchicken.com where as few as 3 can be purchased, or try www.idealpoultry.com which doesn’t have a minimum number of chicks, just a $25 minimum purchase.
- Our first time we ordered chicks, I put a post on craigslist regarding that I would be placing a chick order with a hatchery and “did anyone what to combine their order.” I received a number of friendly responses, and few weird ones, and had more than enough chicks wanted to make the minimum. I also met a number of nice chicken keepers just starting out like our family. It gave me folks to split the large organic feed purchase with too.
Started Pullets (off heat / about 8 + weeks old) = $5 to $15 but they are hard to find around here, especially early spring.
Point of Lay Pullets (typically sold around 16 to 20 weeks old) = $8 to $20.
Laying Hens = $10 to $30, depending on age, breed, quality, etc. Old worn out laying hens might be less, around $8. Marans are currently a popular breed for dark brown eggs, and thus, they are often listed for a premium, sometimes as high as $50.
Roosters = Free to $15
What to look for when buying new chickens: no watery eyes or noses, smooth scales on legs, flexible breastbone, little to no skin bleaching, shape of feathers if looking only for females, cleanliness of living conditions. Always quarantine new birds separately from the existing flock for about 30 days to prevent any disease or pest transmissions. Starting with day old chicks is an easy way to avoid this added hassle.