Poultry - The Frugal Homestead

How to Get Free Chickens for Your Homestead

Score some free chickens that are molting

How to Find Free Chickens

Are you interested in getting some free chickens? In addition to hatching out your own chicks from fertile eggs, you might be able to find unwanted chickens in your area. ‘Used’, or ‘pre-owned’ chickens, might not be as hard to find as you might think. I have taken in free chickens a number of times and I’ll share ideas for places you might find chickens for free or really ‘cheap.’

A friend of ours gave us his old laying hens to make room for new hens. He doesn’t like to butcher them for stewing, preferring to raise broilers once a year for the freezer.

These hens are around 18 months old and are in various stages of molt, so they haven’t been laying many eggs. He wanted to get some point of lay pullets to get back into production quickly. His impatience turned into my gain.

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My older hens started molting late this fall too. I give them all a small scoop of meat producer feed along with their layer ration each day. This will help their bodies produce new feathers and get back to laying eggs soon.

When my old hens stop laying enough eggs to pay for their keep, they will go in the stew pot. I don’t enjoy butchering, but we do eat meat and this is an inexpensive way to provide food for the table. It also reduces the cost of keeping my flock.

Old laying hens are fine for stewing. For the most tender meat, cook the carcasses down, pick the meat off the bones, and then pressure can it with the broth. This is great for easy chicken soup when you’re in a hurry and need some comfort food.

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What to Look for and Expect from Free Chickens

Be aware that moving to a new home stresses the hens and they will stop laying for a few weeks. Expect around 3 or 4 weeks before they get back in the swing of things.

Be sure they have light for around 14 to 15 hours a day during the winter to keep them laying.

Feed a quality layer ration with crushed oyster shells on the side.

Don’t introduce your new hens to an existing flock without putting them through a quarantine period.

The cost of your pre-owned hens will range from free to a few dollars. It will depend on your area and situation. Sometimes good deals can be had on Craigslist. (Be careful meeting people you don’t know… bring a friend!)

Watch for signs of disease and parasites, such as worms and mites. If they have watery eyes and nostrils, or they are sneezing or having difficulty walking, don’t bring them home. They could carry disease and you should sanitize your shoes before wearing them in your chicken coop or yard.

If you’ve already got them home before you discover they’re sick, you may either try treating them, keeping them in a separate coop and pen, or putting them down. This is a tough call and I suggest you read up on common chicken diseases and their treatments.

Tip: Post an ad on Craigslist in the farm section … ‘In Search Of Old Laying Hens.’ Let people know that you are willing to take their old hens or extra roosters. A lot of people don’t want to butcher their chickens and you may be able to take them home for free.

Hatch some free chickens!

Other Ways to Get Free Chickens

In addition to getting free unwanted adult chickens, you can hatch chicks for free (or almost free). Try keeping a broody hen to hatch and rear baby chicks for you! There may also be someone in your area who has fertile eggs. If you have friends with hens and a rooster, check to see if they will give you eggs to hatch. Be sure to ask if they want half of the chicks as a ‘thank you’ gift.

You can also purchase an incubator and hatch chicks for years to come. The extra roosters may be used for meat and you’ll have replacement pullets for your laying flock. An incubator will pay for itself many times over and you might even be able to sell extra chicks as a side hustle.

Have you ever brought home free chickens? Where did you find them? Leave a comment!

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59 Comments on “How to Get Free Chickens for Your Homestead

  1. Please contact me I love rising chicken have a chicken coop and bought a new one my neighbor cat killed all of them now my good morning is not good anymore I’m 71 and love getting up early morning singing to my chicken I want more but can’t afford if anyone have some chicken I would love to start singing again contact me please

    1. Hi,
      You might be able to find chickens for free on Craigslist in your area. Unless you live in Northern Illinois, I’m afraid I am too far away. I’m sorry to hear about your chickens. Best wishes, Lisa

  2. Hi I’m a new at this and I have a 8 month old hen a a adult roster I was hoping in having a chicken

    1. Hi,
      Try checking Craigslist in your area for anyone looking to rehome their chickens. I hope this helps.

  3. my son bought to chicks in a Walmart parking lot and we can’t keep them. We need help to give them away. Have any ideas?

    1. I need some chicken’s!! I’m new at this, but I got 2 baby chick’s from a friend just a few Mos back. I lucked out and got a hen and a rooster!! She’s starting to lay eggs everywhere ! I was told I should have at least 3 hens for this rooster …
      So if your looking to get rid of 2 or 3 I’m your gal!!
      Please give me a hollar!! Thank you so much..
      Suzanne

  4. I am only ten years old and I want a chicken sooo bad! And no one will get me one. not even my own parents would get me one. the chicken is also my favorite animal πŸ™

    1. Hi,
      I understand the frustration. I had to wait for years to move to an area where I’m allowed to have chickens. I hope that someday you can have a chicken!

    1. Usually, people sell fertilized eggs but perhaps a friend would give some eggs for hatching. Thanks for the suggestion, I’ve added it to the post. πŸ™‚

  5. Wow, thanks for this awesome information about chickens! Just found your site and am so glad I did.thankyou!

    1. Hi!
      I’m sorry you can’t have chickens where you are. When we moved 10 years ago, that was one of the most important things I was looking for in a new property. The real estate agent thought it was funny that I toured the barn before the house when we looked at properties. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Emily,
      Yes… that is a prime time for unwanted chickens, unfortunately. Thanks for giving them a better fate!

  6. I’m so looking forward to having chickens again and am on the verge of having my coop and run built. As I try to live quite frugally, it’s good to read of these possibilities. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for hosting! This is what I featured the week of 7-27 to 8-1 on my blog. On Tuesday was Spanokopita aka Spinach Pie. Wednesday was a Strawberry Puree. Thursday were Chocolate Whoopie Pies. And winding up this week was my post, Tip Friday Scraping the Bowl. Enjoy!

  8. Hi Lisa:

    You also have the patience of a saint, in my opinion…lol. Well, I had a question on your blog story today regarding some of the things to watch out for in any “used” chickens we may find on our own, either Craigslist or possibly a neighbor, etc. Two of those things you said to watch out for were: “flapping their wings and walking”?

    Could you expound on those two behaviors a little bit please for me? I mean, all chickens, “walk around” and at times occasionally “get their feathers ruffled over something and begin to “flap their wings”. So what exactly would I look out for, to know that this means this chicken is “sickly” with something, if it is “normal” and “healthy” behavior from chickens also to “walk” and “flap their wings”?

    PS>>>Oh, BTW, this time the posts by “Anonymous” wasn’t me!….LOL I finally am all set to go, with my name appearing each time now, YEAH! Thanks for everyone’s patience. What I did was to follow Lisa’s suggestion and UN-subscribe. Then, I turned right around and “Signed up” a second time. We discovered that for whatever reason, there was a “glitch” when I first signed up and the computer program didn’t automatically “send out” to me that “Confirmation” email you always get whenever you subscribe to something, which comes to your email inbox and basically says: “You just signed up for such and such, please “Confirm” by clicking on this link here”. However, when I UN-subscribed and signed up that second time… it then triggered it to send out that “Confirmation” email to me. Once I clicked on it to “Confirm” it then began posting my “Name-Tirtzah” instead of posting as “Anonymous”. The funny thing though about this was not only did I get the “Confirmation” email that SECOND time I subscribed. But it like “woke itself up” and sent me our my “Confirmation” email ALSO for that FIRST TIME I had “Subscribed”!…….LOL

    Thanks
    Tirtzah

    1. Hi Tirtzah,
      I guess that wasn’t very clear…sorry! I meant to watch for chickens that are having trouble walking or flapping their wings. If it seems as though they have trouble standing, walking, or flapping their wings, they most likely have Mareck’s disease which can infect your flock. However, most chicken flocks that are free ranging are likely to pick up Mareck’s from wild birds anyway. Sneezing is also bad…it means they have chronic respiratory disease.

      If you go to look at some chickens and there is any reason that you suspect something might be wrong with them, it’s better to walk away without the free chickens rather than infect your flock.

      Best wishes!

      1. I suggest posting on Craigslist or Freecycle in your area, letting people know that you will take unwanted chickens. You could also put a sign out in your yard. Best wishes.

    1. There seems to be some confusion about this post…I don’t have any free chickens. I found free chickens on Craigslist….you might be able to also. Check the Craigslist listings for your area to see if there are any chickens for free.

      Best wishes.

  9. Hi Anthony,
    This is an old post and was intended to give you some ideas for getting chickens for free…check Craisglist in your area to see if anyone is giving their old hens away. Best wishes!

  10. Thanks so much for sharing this, I know my hens have just stopped laying, but they are molting now, and I have some new one just getting started, and their shell are so soft they break when they pop out. Thanks again so much, Have a Blessed day. Kay

    1. Hi Kay,
      Try giving your chickens ground oyster shells for calcium to make the egg shells stronger. Sometimes you have to mix it in with their food to get them to eat it. Best wishes!

  11. I have had both good and bad experiences with “used” chickens. Unfortunantly before I knew enough about raising chickens I introduced used chickens with a breathing problem. I have been able to weed out most of the problem over the last few years but I still have a few sneezers. I have also been gifed with some beautiful birds that have been wonderful additions to our flock. My only advice is be careful before you introduce them to your girls.

    1. Very true, Joann! I’ve had 2 diseases introduced to my flock this way. I knew the ‘used’ chickens I received most recently and knew they were healthy…healthier than my birds actually.

  12. We’ve gotten several small farm animals like this! Just popping by to let you know that you are one of the featured posts over at Get Real Frugal Friday! I hope you’ll back come by my blog hop today and join us again!

  13. Used chickens- whatever next! I love your assertion ” I’m not running a retirement home for old hens here.” I bet your chicken stocks are delicious!

  14. Great ideas! One of my neighbors said you could get free chickens from the Humane Society too. I guess in some towns backyard chickens are legal, but in others they aren’t so when people buy them and find out they can’t keep them they’ll take them to the Humane Society.

    Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday! πŸ™‚

    1. We got a great little hen from Animal Services and got her a boyfriend from a neighbor and they live happily in our garden truck

      1. Hi Ammalinda,
        That’s great! Around here none of the animal rescues or county services take in chickens, because they are livestock. I’m glad you gave them a home. πŸ™‚

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