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Ordered 38 Silkies, 19 black, 19 buff. Ordering by phone was easy, staff was helpful and friendly. Shipping was fast, one day. I had notified my post office about the order, they called me at 6:30 AM to let me know they had arrived and I picked them up right away. Only one chick was DOA. Ideal sent two extra Silkies with the order. Easy transaction, very healthy chicks, all eating, drinking and peeping! Great experience, would order from them again!
Ordered 22, day old chicks, Black sex-link and Black Australorps, what a great bunch of healthy chicks! The folks I've dealt w/ @ Ideal have all been very friendly and helpful. We did lose 1 chick, not to bad really for our 1st time raising chicks. The other 21 are growing and growing. The Australorps are so friendly and run to see you and like attention and to be touched and are very smart for baby chicks. The price with Ideal was the main reason i ordered from them. I will order from Ideal again in the future when we need more replacements for our flock.
I have ordered from them for the last 3 years. Customer service has always been great . I havd had some losses in mallard ducks only. No they dont put many or no extras , Those days are gone . Most hatcheries dont send any or very few and they are higher priced than ideal. I have 100 asst hatchery choice right now. Plus my mallards. I called customer service and got polite reasonable service.Many of the breeds ive bought in the past were better than breeders marans laid better darker eggs on egg chart than show stock..The barbanters are a joke but are a recreated breed. It pays to do some research on what your buying. I have no illness ever from ideal. and right now i have 100 very diffrent birds .all alive I did get 3 extra in mallards no but I dont think we should expect extra .I get what I pay for and often better .
I have ordered birds from Ideal several times. I've heard great news about other hatcheries, but Ideal is the closest to Louisiana, so that's why I went with them. Each time I ordered chics, all that were alive were healthy and alert. I lost 1 or 2 chics each order and they were DOA. I never lost a bird after placing them into my brooder. Ideal was much less expensive than other hatcheries and my birds look great. Over the past 2 years, I have ordered 25 top hats, 25 bantams, 25 black Austrolorps, 25 Rhode Island Reds, 25 white leghorns and 50 barred rocks. (due to the increased cost of feed, I sold a few) I pick up over 53 eggs each day from these birds. Since I didn't make a claim for the few dead birds, I can't comment on the customer service after the sale. I always phoned in my order and spoke with friendly people each time. I will order from Ideal again.
On Jul 13, 2009, mister_jeckel Kingsport, TN wrote:
I ordered 25 pullets, I had read the reviews about peoples chicks dying and just assumed people didn't know how to care fore the chicks. When mine arrived one was dead, I thought not bad. Well one week later 7 just fell over dead. I emailed the company and provided them with a link to this forum about how it seems they ship sick chicks. They refuse to even credit me. I will never order from them again. The higher price of McMurray is worth it. I'm sure the rest of these will die too as they now seem sickly aswell!
going to keep my story short. I ordered some chicks on 6/15/09....website clearly showed as available for delivery 6/17/09 the pullet assortments for brahma, cochin, feather leg and rare breeds....in fact at the time of this post it still shows them available, might be fun for you all to watch how long it takes to fix the problem. Well guess what they are not available until fall or even 2010....so I ask why does the site still show available? I then sent them a list of all the birds I would take as replacements on a date that would work for them, I was basically told they had 5 of the 35 I would take and I could take multiples of them, when that is not satisfactory. I clearly wanted 25 different birds with maybe a couple duplicates to help them out 20 duplicates is not a few. I feel like some items are shown available just to get more orders and back log them. Dishonest and unethical. And I assure you I bent over backwards to be kind and considerate. And am posting this inc ase I am not the only one.
"I received an order of chicks from you on
March 18 [two weeks ago]. I have had three of these chicks come down with tremor, ataxia, and paralysis. I am very concerned that there may be a virus that could infect the rest of my flocks. Please advise."
Here's the reply from Ideal:
"I would take your birds to a vet. If any more die, put them in ice and have a vet do a necropsy on them. This is the only way to get an exact answer. We have not had any problem, so I would make sure that your pens are clean and you are not coming into contact with other birds. I would also sanitize your shoes, hands and clothes. "
Since I was unable to connect with anyone at Ideal by phone, I sent them another email:
"I ordered some relatively uncommon breeds. Silver Grey Dorking, Self-Blue Silkie, Buff Catalana, Buff Cornish, and Buff Chantecler. I know some hatcheries drop ship more uncommon breeds, so I'm not sure whether these birds were hatched on Ideal's premises or if other breeders raise them for you. I am aware that McMurray's had a problem with Avian Encephalomyelitis last year and the symptoms of my chicks seem to match that.
I've bought feed-store chicks as layers for the last 12 years or so. I began hatching out my own stock from private breeders about 4 years ago. I have never seen these symptoms before.
The first one I noticed was a Dorking pullet, about three days after the Ideal shipment arrived. She could not keep her feet and kept rolling over and backward. I separated her and she recovered within a few hours, so I didn't think much of it.
The next one was a Self-Blue Silkie, she was eating and drinking fine but kept falling over when the chicks would run across the brooder. Other than that she seemed okay, but got worse over several days so I culled her.
The very next day, either a Buff Cornish or Buff Chantecler was just sitting there trembling. I picked her up and she was stiff and cold to the touch, trembling and seemingly paralyzed. I set her up under a heat lamp but she died within a few hours.
I don't know what to do with the rest of Ideal group. I have to assume all of them have been exposed to whatever is causing these symptoms. I will call USDA if another chick becomes ill, but if none do, could they still be carriers that can pass the disease along? I realize there can be no definitive answer until we know what we're dealing with, but if they remain healthy, is there a way they can be tested? If not, I fear I may have to cull all of them as I have some valuable stock on my property that I don't want infected.
Thanks for any advice you can give."
and here is their reply:
"We do not have Avian Encephalomyelitis. If we did, we would notice it at the hatchery. The birds would not hatch, and if they didÖ then they would be on their backs. Itís a very noticeable problem. We have our common and rare breeds on site; that is what makes Ideal Poultry stand out. We do drop ship rare turkeys, pheasants, and chukars. We rarely drop ship other breeds, unless we over sell (sometimes we just get carried away selling our chicks).
There are many problems that cause CNS in young birds. I would not jump to any conclusions. I did notice that you vaccinated your birds you got in September, and did not vaccinate this flock. If you vaccinate for Mareks, then you must always vaccinate. Mareks can stay in the flock or ground for two months, and even more if you have anything that produces feces in the pen."
Okay, I have seen Mareks. This does not look anything like Mareks, and as far as I know Mareks is uncommon in chicks this young (they were shipped on March 18, so they are about 2 weeks old). The first chick came down with these symptoms within about 72 hours of shipment. The reason I vaccinated the batch I got in September is because they were broilers I was not going to breed from. I want my breeder birds to have natural resistance to Mareks so I do not vaccinate them.
I seem to remember a similar response from McMurray's last year. Total denial, and then eventually they realized that in fact it was a problem on their end and they had to recant. As I recall a "failed vaccine" was blamed.
But I am assured that this time, it could not possibly be the hatchery's problem.
So if I have to cull these chicks (better safe than sorry), it looks like I am just going to have to eat the $100+ I spent on them unless I can prove they have AE... and even then, there is no way I can prove that it came from Ideal, even though this is the first time I have ever seen these symptoms on my farm, and only in this particular shipment of chicks.
Draw your own conclusions and be advised. I have had good luck with Ideal in the past, but I am very disappointed in their response to this issue.
On Apr 5, 2009, Ideal Poultry Breeding Farms, Inc. responded with:
Again, I am very sorry about your birds. Now to address your comments.
First of all, on our emails, my personal phone number was ALWAYS at the bottom of email. I called you, and I did not get an answer. I asked for you to call me back so we can talk about this issue. I am here from 7:30-8 on Mondays, 7:30 - 5 on Thursday to Friday, 8-12 on Saturdays and 12-3 on Sundays. Again, feel free to call me anytime.
Secondly, we do not have AE. We are not McMurray. They are a fine hatchery and we respect them. I donít not know how they operate their facility, but I know how we operate ours. Ideal Poultry is a family owned and OPERATED business. We know our birds, we know how they act, we know how they eat, and we know how they lay. Our birds are our livelihood, why would be in "total denial" if we had a problem that would jeopardize everything we have been working with for 70+ years.
Thirdly, about the Mareks vaccinations. I just wanted to make sure that you knew that Mareks is a live vaccine. It will be in the soil, feather dander, and aerosol. I never wrote that your birds had Mareks. I have also seen Mareks. I am not just a poultry enthusiast, but a Poultry Scientist. I got my degree in Poultry Science from Texas A&M University. I studied Mareks, AE, AI, Newcastles, and every other poultry disease. I know that Mareks harms juvenile birds. I also know that AE had symptoms that can be mistaken for other problems.
It seems that you want an answer, but I cant give you one. I have never been to your house to see your coop, so I canít tell you what is wrong with your birds. This is why I suggested you contact a vet. They can investigate your problem. I cannot diagnose your birds illness over 2 emails. If you had a problem with the way I answered your email, then maybe you could have told me what you were looking for. You asked if we had AE, and we do not.
Next time, if we have any problem with my answer or want a more in depth explanation, let me know. I am willing to talk this out with you and throw around some ideas about how to save your birds. I never want to see a chicken die if we can help it.
As for other Ideal Poultry Customers, if you have any questions... Please come to us! We are here to help and answer questions. We want your back yard flock to be happy and healthy. We are NPIP monitored and test our farm and hatchery regularly.
On Mar 31, 2009, PullTab Beautiful Brazoria County, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:
April '08 I ordered 25 assorted Bantams and picked them up in person in Cameron. Nice trip, nice chicks. Early on I lost 1 chick to my own mishandling.
A local feed and seed carries Ideal chicks spring and fall and I have purchased 'off the rack' Ideal chicks for 15 years. We started with Rhode Island Reds (The Meanest Roosters in the galaxy), Barred Rocks and Black Sex Link, all standard size. I have always had good results with Ideal Poultry but the birds don't have a long trip before they get to town.
I ordered 145 RIR chicks from Ideal. 120 hens and 25 roosters.
I did not get any extras.
As someone has previously posted I think there is some kind of respiratory problems within their breeding program. I had 3 hens die at the end of their first week.
They seemed fine for the first 2 days then I lost 1 hen a day for the next 3 days. The first 2 I just found dead in the stack brooder (had 40 in each, 6+sqft). The 3rd had labored breathing and could not stand so I put it in its own stack brooder with a small dish of starter and water and it just got weaker and its breathing slower and slower. I held it in my hands to see if it had an airway obstruction or something, it was very limp. It stopped breathing in my hands.
They were delivered to the postal annex - no dead of winter doorstep delivery here. I did have to wait more than a month. They were on back order along with every other hatchery. Their price was considerably less than some other hatcheries.
I figured a few wouldn't make it so I'm not disappointed. They are currently 2 weeks old. I hope I have better luck with them as layers than other commenter here. I'll keep you guys updated.
On Jan 8, 2009, patriciah777 Stevensville, MT wrote:
I'm so sorry for the persons who had such bad experiences. Even though this was my first order with Ideal, I only ordered a few chicks, was DELIGHTED with their service. I got exactly what I ordered, including a half dozen large males for warmth [I ordered mostly bantams]. In fact, I even changed my order shortly before shipping, necessitating credits, etc., and had NO PROBLEM with any portion of the experience: ordering, shipping, bookkeeping. I suggest, however, for anyone ordering shipped chicks from anywhere, to keep close contact with the shipper, calling or personally checking to see if they've arrived. I live in a small town, so had no problem, but in a larger, busier facility there could be delay in notification, which could result in lost chicks. I'm sorry that the 'experienced' buyer made allegations about disease, without having proof, but ??????????? I just wish I had this good of service from the airline and insurance company I'm currently haggling with.
On January 8th, 2009, patriciah777 added the following:
I'm also VERY GLAD they included feed and water introduction instructions [which I followed religiously, being a novice]. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known to take this step. As an anxious beginner, I also kept VERY close tabs on them; they were in my bathroom, just for that purpose with recommended temperature. Anyway, GO Ideal; I plan to order more this spring!!
So far so good, I received my small order of 24 (plus one) chick - all appear to be healthy, drinking and eating well - there is one chick that appears to have a leg problem but is trying to overcome it...I will see what happens by the morning..customer service was fine, as it was my first order, I was nervous, and they responded promptly to email..
I have purchased from Ideal Poultry for the past six years receiving my latest order today, 12-23-08. Chickens are my hobby and I run between 30-40 birds at a time. Each time I have ordered from Ideal, I ordered a variety of chicks. Each and every order that I have received from Ideal, all chicks were alive and healthy and exactly what I ordered. The customer service I have received has always been great. With a record like this, I can't see doing business anywhere else.
We ordered 64 baby chickens, both bantams and large size, from Ideal Poultry, all of which arrived in good condition in 4/08. On the day they were sent, we received a phone message saying that they were all out of 3 of the birds we ordered and had to substitute. Upon arrival, they were all in good condition, and there were 2 extras, but many more substitutions (ten) than they had indicated. Perhaps some of them were simply errors. We were not critical of Ideal at this point, because we felt that our large order, consisting of small numbers of many different breeds, was difficult and confusing to fill.
Five died within 24 hours. Five others were runts. We did not call Ideal at that point, because we thought that although these numbers were high, they were not totally out of wack.
At about 5-6 weeks of age, all 6 of the barnevelders died within a few days of each other. We think it was a respiratory problem, because they appeared to be gasping for breath. The odd thing is that none of the other breeds got sick, even though they were in the same pen as about 10 other birds (all of other breeds). Thus, we concluded that there was something wrong with the barnevelders, probably indicating a problem with the breeding program. We called Ideal. While we did not push them very hard, they were not willing to refund us for those six birds. We were surprised. We told them that we hoped they would at least give the breeder of the barnevelders this important feedback.
Amongst the survivors we have now, two have wry tail and one has a foot deformity. The hens are not laying quite as well, at this time of year, as birds we have raised in the past, obtained from other hatcheries. We know this for certain because our kids kept records on numbers of eggs laid by past batches of chickens. And this is taking breed into consideration: wyandottes from Ideal are not laying as well as wyandottes from other hatcheries did during their first fall. The same with barred rocks.
In sum, this was not a terrible experience, but it was noticeably worse than our experiences with other hatcheries. Ideal Poultry offers a wonderful selection of breeds, but we get the sense that in order to accomplish that, they sacrifice quality. This is probably true of other large hatcheries to some extent, but seems to be more so with Ideal. I would hesitate before ordering from them again. Better to stick with smaller, local sources of chicks, even if you can't get exactly the breeds you want.
On April 16, 2008, my son and I received our 16 ordered ducklings. (An extra one was sent, but one died that day). The ducklings were shipped out on Tuesday and arrived on Wednesday. As of September 6, 2008, our 16 babies are 5 months old and are still doing beautifully. We are so happy to have them and would order from Ideal again. Thank you.
On Apr 6, 2008, larlienda Strasburg, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:
I received my first order from Ideal this past thursday, 3 april. There were 5 goslings and 8 ducklings which was the exact amount i ordered. No extras, but for the first time since i've ordered poultry and water fowl NONE were needed! All are extremely robust and healthy and absolutely thriving.
My previous two orders from another company included some dead on arrival, some that died shortly after, one blind duck and one crippled gosling. I'm used to having spend a lot of extra attention and care on the weak and sick.
This time i'm spending extra time playing and spoiling these babies!
I will be getting my chicks (25 pullets and 1 roo) from Ideal in May and i can't wait!
On May 29 2007 we ordered 24 chicks from Ideal via the telephone [as we were trying to get an order asap]
The lady answering the phone was knowledgeable, extremely polite, and took the time to answer questions and let us know if the breeds/colors that we were interested in were hatching soon.
On June 13 2007 the order arrived on time and correct, all chicks were healthy and thriving.
We plan to order from them again ... and again .....
On Dec 1, 2007, TritonsFarm Beverly, WA (Zone 5b) wrote:
I ordered 75 chicks in October. All 75 arrived in excellent condition. They are now over a month old and they still look great. Have not lost a one and they are very healthy and active. They did not send any extra, but I rather have them all healthy than sending extras.
I have ordered 3 times from Ideal and have had a great experince all three times. I have a limited amount of space so ordering less than 25 chicks, like most require, was a big help. The first two shipments arrived safely and all were alive and healthy. The third shipment had 5 dead and 2 more died later. However I don't believe this was the companys fault. I believe there was Post Office Error. However, the company put a credit through on my credit card as soon as I contacted them. They were extremely nice and hepful. I still have all the chicks and they are very healthy and great layers.
I have ordered baby chicks from this company and they have never disapointed me whith their service or product. One of the best and most inexpensive of any hatcherys in the us. Any problems of death of poor shipping (not by their fault) has been corrected with ease and nice cooperation. Thanks for all the years of service. scott
I have been ordering large quantities of birds from Ideal since the beginning of 2007. (Between 100-200 birds at a time). The arrival of my shipment usually arrives the day after hatching, sometimes another day is added. (We are talking from Texas to Hawaii!) I request from Ideal with each order to confirm that my order was shipped as requested, and without fail, Ideal contacts me to inform my order has been shipped and I notify the post office of their anticipated arrival. As soon as the birds arrive, the post office calls for pick up, and it usually occurs early morning before operating hours. I lose a maximum of 2-5 birds on the smaller orders, 10 at the most on larger orders. I immediately give my birds lukewarm water containing sugar for the first 3 days, and freshly boiled eggs, chopped real fine, sprinkled on top of the turkey starter. The eggs are only given on their initial arrival, and they begin thriving immediately. Some of the birds appear weaker than others, and those birds are put in a broader separate from the other chicks that are more active to give them a better chance of survival,which in most cases, they all survive. The temp. in the broader is 90 degrees, which I drop a degree everyday til it is the same degrees as our natural climate. I free range all my chickens within 10 days. A vast majority of breeds do I have, and the birds that I get from Ideal have wonderful temperments, and are wonderful egg layers. Raising the birds is my hobby, and I do sell some of them privately once they have reached 3-4 weeks of age, and word on the island is that I have the best birds. I have ordered birds from other hatcheries and havent been as satistied with the shipping or the quality of the birds. The loss ratio was alot higher and the orders smaller! Birds from other hatcheries dont compare to the birds from Ideal. I ordered 24 keets, (guinea hens) in one of my orders and I only lost 2 of them. Many individuals who have tried to raise keets had a zero survival rate!! I will continue to use only Ideal Poultry as my source of purchasing birds.
Well, I have ordered chicks from IDEAL prior to this years horrible experience and they, for the most part, survived shipping and I had no problems with deformities or disease. Not the case this year. My first order was placed in march, which was a little cold in NY. The order of 69 chicks was shipped and received with only 51 in the box, of the 51 5 were dead, not bad considering the long shipping distance and the bad weather. Things were looking relatively good the first day, but the next morning held a much different scene. 5 of 6 Gold Necked D'Uccles and 4 of 6 Blue Mille Fleur were in horrible condition, later that day they had all died. The first week I had lost the 9 d'uccles along with 6 more chicks (most likely from disease). Keep in mind I have been raising chicks for over 15 years and am no novice. Anyways, I called IDEAL and explained the situation. They were extremely polite, as always, and sent out a replacement order for the next month with some additional chicks that I decided to order last minute. The order came in on time and with better weather. I had expected a better outcome. Not so. Birds that had been listed on the invoice which were not included within the order (24 total). By this time I am a little aggravated and called IDEAL immediately. They apologize and tell me the most of the missing chicks were out of stock, and another replacement order will be placed, surely they couldn't mess it up again. The replacement order was received and again there was considerable dead-loss as well as some missing chicks. By this time I had no more patience for games so I decided to take the hit and did not call IDEAL. About two weeks later chicks began to get sick (Avian Encephalitis or MS) and I noticed that 5 of 6 Self blue d'uccles started to show scissor beak (deformity from inbreeding). This took the cake. I decided to write IDEAL an informative e-mail stating that they have been breeding sick and or terrible quality birds producing horrible results. Included in the e-mail were multiple pictures of the sick and deformed chicks as proof. No answer. And so I call back and this time was greeted with a different tone. Basically I was asked why I did not call earlier and was treated as if I was trying to scam them. I explained that I had gone through this several times and did not wish to put myself back through the motions of receiving bad quality or even worse dead chicks. The replacement order was eventually shipped once again and once again I received only half my order and this time they had placed 12 barred Rock males for warmth! A miscommunication I was told when I called back and spoke with the same rep. She apologized AGAIN and shipped out another order. Finally I received the chicks this morning all accounted for, all alive. The end of a final chapter of this horror story. I will not be ordering from them again.
Be weary, if you order birds from IDEAL, expect less than average to terrible results and DO NOT place the chicks with any others you may have. There is a good chance they are carrying multiple transmittable virus'. This may seem like a smear campaign, which it is, but all the information I have provided is accurate to my IDEAL experience, no pun intended.
I ordered for the first online for live chicks, I ordered 8 bantams, 7 marans and 3 ducklings for a friend, everyone arrived healthy and happy and are thriving today. I would recommend them. My post office called me shortly after 6am to tell me they were there. No problems even though I added the ducklings the week before they were due to ship
I ordered 40 chicks from Ideal Poultry and was shipped 34 chick after several delays. They did not send extras, their shipping box was NOT labelled, and it was not insured. The US Postal Service put the box in a cold storage room and didn't call. By chance, my employee was picking up a package the next day and asked if there might be chicks sitting around. I lost half of the chicks within 24 hours. I called Ideal and was told that they would replace the chicks. After several calls and e-mails - I have received no reply, and no replacement chicks.
Be aware that if you order chicks from Ideal - don't expect extras. Request that they label their shipping box IN LARGE PRINT for the US Post and insure the shipment. Additionally, the quality of chicks in the bantam varieties is fair, not great.
Ordered 35 turkeys and 25 chickens from Ideal. Order took a bit long to ship, but that's part of the poultry business, I guess. Exactly 35 turkeys arrived, unlike companies like Marti Poultry that usually throw in a couple extra to compensate for die-out that is almost inevitable with sensitive creatures like turkeys. Thus, there was no cushion for us when we lost 4 or 5 within the first few days (and we are very good at keeping poults alive). Similarly, our order of 25 chickens arrived with 26 birds, but one was DOA. Thankfully, we managed to lose only one additional bird. Most people would likely have lost more. I'll probably order chickens exclusively from Marti in the future. Where I'll get turkeys is still up for grabs.
On May 23, 2007, jab91864 Northern Michigan, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:
I ordered an assortment of chicks and guineas from Ideal. All in all I'd rate them an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Ten of my little guys died right away (1-dead on arrival, 1-dieing on arrival, and 1-badly deformed ) but there was a freak snowstorm so I think that may be more to blame for my losses overall.
Customer service was very friendly and they will credit you with the cost of lost chicks.
Honestly don't know if I would buy from them again, but that is only because of the distance. Texas to Michigan in a little box is a rough trip no matter how you slice it.
We ordered 225 Red Sex-Links.
We received 229 on March 2, 2007. They appear to be strong and healthy.
We have a small farm egg business with 800 layers.
Ideal has 4 different kinds of Sex-Links to choose from which is great for our business.
Ideal is professional and friendly. A top quality family business.
On Aug 9, 2006, CHICKENCRAZY06 Lakeland, FL wrote:
IDEAL POULTRY HAVE VERY NICE CHICKENS. I HAVE BOUGHT FROM THEM SEVERAL TIMES. THEY ALSO REPLACE CHICKS WHEN THEY DIE ON YOU WITHOUT ANY HESITATION. I REALLY LIKE THIS ABOUT THEM VERY MUCH. CHRISTIE ONE OF THEIR EMPLOYEES, IS VERY HELPFUL. WE LIKE MAKING ORDERS FOR CHICKENS FROM HER, SHE IS REALLY GOOD AT HER JOB, AND DOES A GOOD JOB TO PLEASE THE CUSTOMER AS WELL. I WILL ORDER FROM IDEAL POULTRY AGAIN. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, JAMES AND RENNEA BURGESS. 1-863-683-8711
Very responsive, courteous customer service. The online order said they were out of runner ducks, until the next year, so I put in a request. Within a few days, I got a response that if I only needed a few runner ducks, they'd have a small hatch within the week.
I've ordered several times, and they were always helpful. This was important to me, because I'm a beginner, and my orders are small; but I'm treated like a customer with a large order.
All birds arrived healthy, and I never had a loss.
i have bought chicks, by mail, from Ideal Poultry on numerous occasions over a 25 year period .. usually 25 chicks at a time, usually production reds and sometimes some auracanas .. i have always had very good luck with them .. i bought 25 production red chicks again last month and turned the old hens out into the big corral where they could scratch for bugs .. haven't lost any of the new chicks although 3 of the old hens have come up missing from predators ..