Murray McMurray officially started his chicken business in 1917. He had always been interested in poultry as a young man and particularly enjoyed showing birds at the local and state fairs. He was in the banking business at this time and sold baby chicks through the bank to area farmers and hobbyists. When incubators became available he was able to purchase several small Buckeye incubators to hatch and sell his own stock. In 1919 he sent out his first catalog and price list and continued to carry on both the banking and the hatchery business. During the early stages of the depression his bank went broke. It was then he decided to go into the hatchery and mail order baby chick business full time.
During the decades of the 30's and 40's, McMurray Hatchery continued to grow. The hatchery served two types of customers: the local area farmer and the mail order customer. One customer lived right in our backyard and the other may have lived a thousand miles away. The McMurray Hatchery catalog bridged the distance gap between the hatchery and the mail order customer. The arrival of the beautiful color catalog with its description of the birds was always anxiously anticipated as it still is today, many years later.
The decade of the 1980's and early 90's saw many changes at McMurray Hatchery. The days of the poultry flock on every farm were gone. Today, 99% of our business is done through our catalog, which serves the small farm flock and the hobbyist. Baby chicks have always been the main staple of the business. Today ducklings, goslings, guinea keats, turkey poults, peafowl, and game birds are hatched and shipped through the mail. Orders for poultry books, medicine, incubators, hatching eggs, equipment, and other poultry related products are shipped daily from our hatchery. Many of the items are shipped to rural areas where these products are sometimes hard to find. We are making every effort to be a one-stop poultry shop.
I've used Murray McMurray many times over the past 20 years. I have purchased chicks, ducklings, turkey poults, and guinea keets. My most recent experience was this past spring with an order of twelve Cayuga ducklings. I found the website easy to use, the prices reasonable, and the shipping costs affordable. The ducklings arrived when they were scheduled to arrive, and all were healthy. I was able to track my order online as the ducklings moved across the country.
The breed selection is good. As this hatchery covers many different poultry species, they don't always have the rarest breeds. The rare breeds they do have are often available only in limited quantities. But there shouldn't be problems with traditional chickens like Barred Rock, Orpington, and Rhode Island Red. Most orders can be either sexed or straight run. I have always done straight run, so I can't speak to how well they do with sexing.
My only quibble with my most recent order is that I wanted to add a few goslings late in the process, and the orders are locked a few days before shipping. I understand why they need to lock orders, but I would have been happy to give them a few more dollars. A separate order for three or four goslings would not have been cost-efficient due to the large cost of shipping small numbers of young birds.
The hatchery also has a lot of equipment and books, juvenile birds, and various assortments like the Homesteaders Delight which includes chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys. I haven't ordered any of these, but I wouldn't be afraid to give it a try. I do like the hatchery's blog which often features interviews with experts like Gail Damerow. The blog is obviously geared toward selling, but it has good information, particularly if you aren't sure just which chicken breeds to get for your particular needs and climate.
All in all, Murray McMurray has good selection, good pricing, and good service, and is definitely a source to consider for straight run traditional poultry breeds.
Work like you were living in the early days of a better nation. --Oysterband
I give this hatchery 8 out of 10 acorns. I have had mostly good luck with them over many years. I think I have only had one casualty in transit (one dead chick). One batch of supposedly purebred White Cochin Bantams had a freak or interloper with Silky feathers, who became my friend's beloved house rooster "Francois"
I give this hatchery 9 out of 10 acorns. They have a wide variety of chicks, started pullets, and other fowl (turkeys, ducks, geese, quail, guineas, etc.). Pricing is reasonable and their shipments have always been on time and accurate.
Sexing of chicks has been very accurate - the counts have been exactly what I ordered. (They usually include an extra chick with the order, and it has always been a rooster in my experience).
One shipment I ordered did not come through due to a predator problem at one of their suppliers (for some rare/specialty chickens). They notified me of the problem and issued a full refund in a timely fashion. This was disappointing but bound to happen from time to time and I thought they handled the situation very well.
There are two kinds of people.
1) Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data
I give this hatchery 8 out of 10 acorns. I have ordered chicks from them 3 times, always around 20-30 chicks at a time. I have ordered standard breeds sexed as female, straight run bantams, and "all breed heavies" which are males from various larger breeds that are worth eating. 2 of my shipments included free extra chicks, either of the bantam breeds I'd already ordered (nice!) or random extra males they had (no problem since I butcher and eat extra males, but problematic for someone who doesn't).
The chicks have always been healthy when they arrived except for one who had an injured leg, which I assume happened during shipping and I don't hold it against them. However the chicks of one particular bantam breed were weak and kept dying on me. It seemed like they just weren't as hardy and healthy as the other bantams.
I have had sexing errors a few times - one sexed "female" was actually a rooster, and three of the "male" all breed heavies were hens. That's out of around 60-65 birds, so their success rate is 94% in this sample.
Pricing is good (other than high shipping fees) and I get a tracking number so I know when they'll arrive.
I've had great experiences with them. The birds have always been healthy. I love their selection. This was the first hatchery I ever used, and I'm very glad it was. I would rate them a 10 out of 10, except that the whole idea of ordering chicks through the mail is off-putting to me. I breed all my own now. In fairness, it isn't Murry McMurray's fault that I get a bad feeling from mail-ordering chicks.
I like their selection of chickens and turkeys, which is most of what I've ordered. All of the birds arrived in the mail healthy and grew well. I like the fun of getting a mixed bag of turkey chicks so that I could see which breeds I liked the best. So far Narragansett is my favorite for disposition and size. They are fairly small so we don't need to wrangle a 20 lb carcass that's just too much for us in one cooking.
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