When someone recently sent me an e-mail & asked what type of birds l have, and thought they were expensive for straight-run chicks. This is what I originally wrote, but then shortened it for their sake. But, I'm sharing the long version with you all:
I'm breeding the "Catskill Homesteader" to be a dual-purpose flock with the additional qualities of being very cold hardy, extremely colorful feathers on both hens & roosters, plus laying a wide range of colorful eggs. I love how the Landrace "breeds" of chickens, the Swedish Flower Hens and Icelandics, are "a box of chocolates", and you never know what the chicks or adults look like until they hatch & have grown up. While those two Landraces have some wonderful qualities, I'm breeding for larger sized hens & roosters, a more colorful array of eggs, and small combs that don't have the tendency to get frostbite in the winter. Currently, the parent stock have both regular single combs & small combs, such as the pea comb, rose comb & cushion comb. Even during this cold winter, many of the hens have continued to lay, though they do have supplemental lighting. I do not heat their coops, they have plenty of ventilation, and as long as the temperature and weather isn't extreme, they'll still go outside. Even this morning at -10*F, the smaller combed hens wanted to go out, but I kept them inside. So, I would say they are pretty cold hardy! The eggs in the incubator are various shades of green, khaki, brown and cream. It all started with hatching three chicks under a broody hen, Daisy, back in 2012. One of those chicks became a beautiful rooster, and he's fathered some very nice chicks. He's still alive and well today, though not currently with any of the breeding hens. Lots of different breeds have gone into what's now 2-3 generations from the original breeding stock. While some may just consider them "mutts" or a "barnyard mix", many of the crosses were intentional and planned, with lots of culling and carefully selecting the best along the way.
As far my prices, I am obviously not a commercial hatchery that has thousands of breeding stock, capable of hatching large quantities of chicks at a time. I am for quality, not quantity, both in the breeding stock and their offspring.
I also have a lot of money invested in their coops, fencing, feed, etc, not to mention the time it takes to care for each breeding group. Earlier in winter, I housed all the hens together, as they weren't being used as breeders, just egg layers. It took me far less time to do my daily routine than now that they're separated into breeding groups. I also prepare their special fermented feed (usually daily, but they have been eating more dry mash lately) that has soaked whole grains & additional nutritional supplements, some of which I source from an organic supplier. That's just what's involved in taking care of the breeding stock.
If I'm to collect eggs for hatching, I have to get dressed for the outdoors & collect eggs several times a day. Then, the eggs have to brought back inside and warmed up to room temperature. I then sort through them to remove any odd-shaped, thin shelled, cracked or very dirty eggs. Next, I candle the eggs to check for any shell imperfections that I can't see with the naked eye.
Finally, the eggs that are deemed worthy of hatching are placed in the incubator, which uses electricity to heat the air around the eggs to 99.5*F. I candle the eggs again at day 7, 10, 14, 18 & mark their air cells. If there are any infertile or eggs that quit growing, they have to be removed. Take for example the current batch of eggs in the incubator. I set 47 eggs one week ago, and when I candled them this morning, the majority of them didn't show any signs of developing. I removed 6 of the eggs, and left the others "just in case" for a few more days. If out of all those eggs, only 5 chicks hatch, I might BREAK EVEN with the cost of the eggs, not taking into consideration any of the other factors. And since it looks like only 6-8 eggs are developing, that may very well be the case, and it would be more feasible to keep those chicks rather than sell them at a loss.
Now, if you are comparing my chicks with the ones the TSC sells or from a hatchery (before shipping), then they may be cheaper, depending on how many & what "straight run" breed you get. But, I've often seen the straight-run breeds at TSC be $2.99 or more.
While I can't speak of what's behind other businesses or breeders' practices, policies and prices, I know that for my hobby farm the goal is not profit, making a name for myself or even developing a "new" breed. Selling chicks, started poultry, etc is just one of the ways we've chosen to diversify our hobby farm.
So, if you still believe my straight-run chicks are too expensive or choose to get your chicks from someone else, I understand.
As it is, I often spend too much time on little "rabbit trails" that would be better used in other productive ways. But, isn't that how we all learn, by making mistakes? And that's also where we learn to trust in, cling to, and rely upon the Holy Spirit. We human beings can be so short-sighted and finite in our thinking and way we go about out daily life. But when we realize that we desperately need guidance by the One Who knows all, sees all and has given us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness, that is when we have true success. We may not "have it all" by the world's standards, but that doesn't matter when truly begin to identify with what Paul said in Philippians 3:8:
"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord;"
Previously in Ephesians 3:8-10, Paul mentioned that to him ... "this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made know through the church to the ruler and the authorities in the heavenly places."
I don't know about you, but doesn't that just thrill your heart that our inheritance that we have received as children of God far surpasses all the riches of this world combined? "Therefore, let us be diligent to enter that rest. ... For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. ... For we who have believed enter that rest ... (because) ... His works were finished from the foundation of the world." (excerpts taken from Heb 4:3, 10, 11)
I know this is a long response to two simple questions, but if you don't know by now, once I start typing, it just flows and becomes a "book" !
Hope you have a wonderful day and God bless you!