Moving Chickens to Texas

chickens-in-truckAs Avian Influenza (AI) has continued to spread in the United States and Iowa, in particular, we began making arrangements in May of this year for how we could start some backup flocks.

Although the strains of AI found in the U.S. have not affected or posed any direct risks to humans, AI has caused the loss of millions of birds — both chickens and turkeys — since December 2014. Many of the breeds that we raise are somewhat rare, and if we were to lose a breeding flock of one of those rare breeds, it would take a long time to find good breeding stock again and then build our flocks back up to the size needed to maintain the breed’s genetics and to provide adequate numbers of chicks for our customers.

So we made a list of our most important breeds — those that would be most difficult to re-establish — and entered into discussions with Joe Claborn, a long time friend in Texas. Joe agreed to set up facilities where he could house and raise about 3,700 of our chicks. Texas would be an ideal location for our backup flocks because its warmer climate discourages the spread of AI.

On May 27, as was mentioned in a recent Reuters article, our company president, Bud Wood brought a truckload of about 3,700 newly hatched chicks to Joe’s farm in Texas, and we set them up in pens where they could be raised. Meanwhile, we began construction of additional housing for the birds as they grow and need more space.

So far, none of our flocks in Iowa have been affected by AI. We plan to continue monitoring AI and make adjustments as needed to maintain our breeding flocks so that we can continue to supply you with the wide selection of breeds that we have become known for.

This entry was posted in McMurray Hatchery. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Moving Chickens to Texas

  1. Sarah says:


    I was a customer a long time ago, when I was in 7th and 8th grade. As an adult, I signed up for your emails to keep in touch and occasionally wander down memory lane. Reading, today, that you are taking proactive steps to protect your flocks and the special species in them doesn’t surprise me one bit, but it does make me want to applaud.



  2. phyllis burns says:

    glad to hear of the backup plan. very good idea.

  3. Pati Patmos says:

    I know the chicken industry has sustained huge losses and I am glad that you folks are taking great care and responsibility for all your birds. I enjoy doing business with a company that takes their job seriously. Thank you again for your great service to us, the consumer.

  4. constance messner says:

    Thank you again M. McMurray, all the chicks I ordered this spring are doing well except the silkies (they all died within one day to a week), next time I will raise them by themselves. I ordered two assortments and love them all. Good plan for the Texas shift. Conni

  5. Marjorie Cox Fabian says:

    We have had a lot of losses of chickens in Wisconsin due to this disease. I pray that your flocks will not be affected. I am so glad that you have taken measures to protect your stock and I know you will do whatever is possible to keep them healthy. You are a company that has been around a long time and is trusted for great quality fowl.
    Keep up the good work!

  6. Karen Pennebaker says:

    Having a “plan B” is always a great idea. I wondered when the turkey poults I ordered didn’t survive if they had been exposed to something or if it was just the time in the US mail that hurt them. They were the only poultry I’ve ever had a problem with that I ordered (and I’ve ordered all of mine from you). My chicks and ducklings that I bought this year are doing great. I live in a rather remote, rural area and hope no wild birds with diseases ever get to my birds!

  7. Gregory Meier says:

    Sounds like you folks have a tight grip on things in your outfit. Soggy Bottom Farm of the Jersey Shore, will contiue to trade with McMurry year after year.

    Thank you for your great service, Gregory A. Meier, Manasquan, N.J.

  8. Robi Malone says:

    I applaud you. Any move to save a species is a huge plus. If we lose just one then future generations will suffer. I hope your flocks remain safe and continue to thrive.

  9. Julie Cain says:

    I am glad to hear that you are moving some of your flock. Most hatcheries operate from the eastern United States. I hope that you consider setting up a second location that chicks can be shipped from. As I live in Nevada it is much closer to me than where you are located now.

  10. Timothy M. Potter says:

    Your actions not only reinforce the survival of the critical breeds for your company purpose. but for all concerned parties.

  11. RUBY DIAZ says:


  12. Debbie Christensen says:

    Thank You for planning ahead! For those in all regions a little info. The nuisance Canada goose is a common carrier of the AI. If you have Goose Control companies in your area it is wise to utilize them, they can Legally and humanely slow the population growth of these birds. NYC’s Central Park and The National Mall in D.C both use one.

  13. Gerardo M Castaldo Jr says:

    Glad to here that you have taken the steps necessary to secure you breeds I have purchased from you only as your chicks are the best in my opinion keep up the good work…let me know if I can help in supporting you other than my purchases.

  14. Sandra Luz Carranza Ramos says:

    I live in Mexicali Mexico border with Calexico California. I have chicks from you and is so Hot here probably more than Texas ( we had get 52 Celcius = 126 F ), many of my birds had died due high temperature. I use to put serum in water to avoid dehydrate and some ice for fresh water, also in summer I cut their feathers especialy to Polish and cochin. If my experience is useful for you here is. Bye
    Good luck in Texas.

  15. Jan says:

    With the spread of “bird flu” in the northern states in the news, your company and your chickens, etc., were in our thoughts. We have enjoyed the assortment of 27 birds (2 males and 25 females) that we received by mail nearly 5 years ago. We raised all of them to a healthy adulthood and, through natural attrition (and a couple of dog incidents), we have 11 chickens left. So far, they seem to still be laying, though of course, not as often as when they were 2 years old. But certainly enough for our family and the neighbors too. We are so pleased that you are “branching out” for the purpose of maintaining healthy flocks. As an aside, I would imagine that the cost of keeping the birds cool in Texas summers would be similar to keeping the birds warm in northern winters. We have ours under our fruit trees during the heat of the day and their shed is insulated with cardboard in the cold of the winter. This has been such an enjoyable experience and we have always appreciated all of the assistance of your customer service. Thank you.

  16. William H Vedder says:

    Glad you are taking preventive measures. So far I have not heard of any outbreaks of AI around us in SE Michigan. My chickens are kept away from any other flocks and I do not let people come into their area. Any info you have on the signs and prevention would be helpful to all.

  17. Susan Harmony says:

    You are a great hatchery and glad to read you are taking action. It would be devastating for you and your customers to lose your rare breeds or any of the breeds.

  18. francisco maza says:


  19. GeorgeWalter Greenway says:

    I’m going to start a breeding group of French Black coco Maran: chickens have been ordered and have set up build. Wish me luck!!!!

  20. Cyndi Bankster Orr says:

    I am elated to hear that you are taking steps to ensure that the rare breed chickens are being protected in the case this disease should be transmitted to any of your flocks. It is a true blessing that the rare & heritage breeds are made avaiable to us the public.

  21. Suzanne McMahon says:

    It’s very reassuring to know you have the birds best interest in mind by moving the rare birds to Texas. Hope all goes well for you in this venture.

  22. Garoleen Wilson says:

    So happy to see you being proactive and working so hard to perserve your rare breeds. I’m very impressed with your commitment. Thank You.

  23. WesTXGrl13 says:

    I second the remark “Pam Taylor” made. Thanks for taking care of your chicks/chickens/various other poultry! We ordered our first day-old chicks from ya’ll several years ago, and have placed subsequent orders since. We have never been disappointed. I appreciate the wide selection of chickens you offer–our egg-basket looks like a rainbow, because we always try something new to go with the “tried-and-trues” when we place an order. If we had to choose just one breed of chicken, I think we would unanimously opt for Araucanas, but we’d rather enjoy seeing a variety. Sure hope the rare breeds continue to thrive under your high-quality breeding program, as well as the more common breeds. I hear there is a brand-new vaccine to combat Avian Flu. Stay vigilant, and many thanks!!!

  24. John R. Hawkins says:

    What a relief to know how attentive you are to keeping our food supply in optimal condition!

  25. CeCe Turner says:

    I’m glad that you are being proactive about this. I absolutely love my hens, they are sweet, and I wouldn’t ever be able to get a variety like I have locally.

  26. Robert Ralph says:

    Very forward-thinking and responsible. Thanks for the ‘investment’ on behalf of chickens and their owners.

  27. Ling Ting says:

    Good plan and thank you for being proactive.

  28. Faith Carr says:

    The most incredible thing about all of this issue is how under reported this all is.
    Outside of the rising price of eggs the public is unaware of the disaster.

    H1 is the main reason many of us in my area didn’t order chicks this spring. Not even from our feed stores. Where often we don’t know the source of the supply.

    I’m VERY pleased you are moving partof your operation to Texas. It just re-affirms my trust in McMurry hatchery.

    Thank you

  29. brenda celorio says:

    Thank you for letting us know. Keep in touch

  30. George Zinn says:

    Thanks for your efforts to assure the continued availability of endangered chicken breeds.

  31. Ruth Lyons says:

    Thank you for taking this precaution. I’d love to see pictures of the arrival of 3,700 chicks at their new home in Texas!

  32. Lydia Nipper says:

    Wow! That is a lot of work, but the end results are always worth it. I know the work is not over. There is so much involved with breeding, raising, feeding, and protecting the flock. Kudos to all of you and all of your continued effort in keeping the flock alive and well!

  33. michael morneault says:

    You are such a good and smart company, delivering quality. I have done business on and off with you since the 70s. Just recently purchased salmon faverolles from you.
    I am so glad you are wise decision makers. Your great. mike

  34. Mary Margaret says:

    I have been looking for a great flock of Dorkings to raise here on our farm. Do you have any idea where i can locate some from a reputable person?

    Thanks for all you do for the birds.

  35. Maria Isabel Aguilar says:

    So happy to know that a company like yours puts the Health of your flocks over what it will cost to do proventative work. Bravo!!! Please keep up the Great work. I wish more companies would follow in your steps.

  36. Patricia Ragan says:

    Where in Texas? We are in East Texas. Our chicken losses have been to hawks and coyotes, not disease. Back-up chickens is a good idea.

  37. JOHN L HAGEN says:

    Will you be moving your whole operation to Texas?

    • Joe Claborn says:

      To answer Lawrence, Patricia and John —
      Our backup facility is in Central Texas. This will only be a breeder farm where backup breeders will be held in case they are needed. We have no plans to move anymore of the operations to Texas. The hatchery will remain in Webster City Iowa where it has been since 1917.

  38. Sharon Smith says:

    Will the public be able to buy chicks directly from the Texas facility?

  39. Pam Taylor says:

    Thank you for taking such good care of your birds.

  40. Ann Newell says:

    Glad to hear this, you really have to be proactive. As you said, those rare breeds we do not want to lose.

Comments are closed.