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First I would like to clarify that while this was my first order from Ideal, we have successfully raised chicks from a variety of local stores in the past.
For my birthday in July I received 30 random bantams from Ideal. Although they arrived quickly, within the first 72 hours I started having casualties.
When I called Ideal, I believe no more than 7 days after the chicks had shipped, I was told that they could do nothing about it since the 4 days since hatching for which they guarantee the chicks had passed. I asked if there was anything that they could do about it and I was told no again. Since then, I have had more sudden deaths and we are now down to 21 chicks, a pretty high mortality rate. However, the chicks that are left have been doing great, hence the neutral review.
Fast and reasonable shipping (unlike its competitors)
Excellent variety in the random order (hardly any two chicks look alike)
Great prices (look for their weekly specials or subscribe to their mailers)
They may add extra chicks (not just packing peanuts)
Poor customer service (make sure you read the fine print)
High mortality rate with bantams
Some chicks exhibit DQ features such as vulture hawks (They claim the chicks aren't show quality and I don't plan on showing them, but FYI)
On Mar 14, 2011, Redbellyspider Albany, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:
I ordered 24 straight run bantam chicks, they came, they were in terrible shape (cold & weak) lost a bunch of them within the first 24 hours. I reported the problem to Ideal right after they arrived, they sent my replacement chicks about 2 months later with a bunch of live warmer chicks. They didn't have the correct replacements so I got a mixed group of chicks, this screws up my plans to pair my bantams up for breeding pure bred chicks to sell locally. (I still haven't figured out exactly what some of these mis-matched purebreds are suppose to be but I think half of them are hens! There were 2 dead chicks smashed in the bottom of the box and from the smell they had been dead a while. Lost 2 more within 48 hours. They did refund part of my money, thus the reason I didn't rate them a Negative. The bantam chicks that survived are now 3 and 5 months old and doing well. My latest disappointment starts with 83% of the bantam chicks turned out to be roosters. WTF? 50% is average for hens to roosters in any breed but 17% hens tells me Ideal lied, they sexed the "straight run" and I got screwed! I would not trust the company again in that respect. I now have a bunch of roosters without hens and Hens without a rooster of the same breed that I have raised and put time and money into and I haven't even been able to sell them. I went and reread my coorispondence with Ideal while I was writing this review and I complained before the last chicks came that I thought they had given me far to many roosters, that is probably why I got 50% hens.
As for individual breed quality:
Black Crested White Polish are not anywhere true to color, most are gray/blue with white or mixed colored crests. The one that is closest to being even close to the correct color has a black crest and is more a dirty white with dark gray spots on its chest. Last spring we purchased 6 polish pullets/hens from a feed store that purchased them from Ideal. We ended up with 3 hens & 3 roosters. The feed store didn't take responsibility. Now that I have purchased direct from Ideal I know it wasn't the feed stores error, they trusted Ideal as I did.
Blue Quail Belgian d Anver: I ended up with three roosters. The breed is suppose to have rose combs but one rooster clearly has a single comb and the other two look more like pea combs. This doesn't seem to me like a "pure bred" breed when they have such huge differences in combs.
Partridge Silkie are not true to color, I ended up with only 2 live chicks, both turned out to be roosters and they look nothing alike other them both having shades of redish-brown and black in them. Two pure bred birds of the same sex and breed should look alike.
White Frizzle Cochin. They are beautiful birds but I was hoping to keep a breeding threesome and sell the others. I ended up with only one female and only one bird that actually looks frizzled, so all the others just look like white Cochin's, which doesn't help their sell-ability.
On Jun 11, 2010, malachi_e_deus Amsterdam, NY wrote:
I am trying to establish flocks of Heritage turkeys:Narragansetts, Midget Whites and Blacks. I had birds from Welp. I asked Ideal if their birds were related to Welp's stock. "No" they said. But I see that both Welp and Ideal ship from the hometown of Privet. So it seems that they are just resellers of Privett birds. Now I have 100 related birds. Thank goodness I had gotten some from Porter's too.
Several problems with this outfit and one positive. I made an order in January, which I subsequently canceled for a number of reasons. Received an email confirming the cancellation.
5 days ago I get an email that my chicks (?) are in the mail. Consternation all around. I now don't have space for these chicks, along with other complications. I email Ideal, and they agree that they made an error and did not put the cancellation notice in the system. I am advised very courteously, that I will not be charged. That's nice, but what do I do with the chicks? It is suggested I leave them with USPS and tell them they may sell the chicks to whomever they like (I don't think the P.O. can legally do this) or take them to a zoo or wildlife center (?). I dream about dead chicks for 2 nights.
3 days later chicks arrive to our tiny (unheated) P.O. (one reason I canceled) and are left in the receiving room. The Postmaster calls as soon as he arrives at 9 that chicks are there cheeping.
Ideal has placed, in addition to the 12 chicks I originally ordered, 10 male chicks of an unknown breed to keep the others warm.
The plus side of this, is that although I am in Alaska, all 22 chicks are alive when I get them home, though 5 expire subsequently, from stress I believe. So that's impressive anyway. I guess the missed cancellation is an honest mistake, but it is going to be tough to place 10 male chicks that were unexpected.
I see the idea behind this, but I doubt I will be ordering chicks again.
On Mar 23, 2010, gtmerkley Saint Anthony, IN wrote:
Ordered 30 chicks all 30 arrived dead. E-Mailed them they sent out replacements 26 arrived dead.they sent replacement chicks again 19 dead. They sent replacements plus 4 males for warmth, extra hay mat and some of there green starter on bottom the 4 males were all that survived.They sent replacements 8 survived plus the 5 males they sent for warmth. I stopped after that I could not stand any more dead chicks. They tried to get them here and there good looking birds and sent replacements without any problem it is just the shipping part, maybe going from warm to cold
"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.
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.
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.
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.