Monday, September 23, 2013

The Chicken Swap Meet

By Leigh -

A chicken swap is basically a gathering of people at a predetermined location for the purpose of buying, selling and trading poultry, small farm animals, crafts and farm supplies. Many Tractor Supply Company stores around the US host chicken swaps regularly, and many other feed and farm supply stores might be interested in hosting swaps if you will set it up and spread the word.

Many monthly swaps are smaller with 10 - 20 sellers and any number of buyers. Of course size will also depend on how well the word has gotten out, the weather forecast and how many chicken enthusiasts are in the area. Often you can find out about area swaps on popular chicken forums or at your local feed stores.

Here in Virginia we have monthly local chicken swaps, but twice a year hundreds flock to Gilman's Farm & Feed Store in Glen Allen, VA (just outside of Richmond).  

And what can one find at the Gilmanor swap?

 Guinea pigs & rabbits.

 Older farmers shopping for homemade canned items while kissing baby goats wrapped in blankets.

 Thanksgiving dinner.

 Delicious snacks.

 Interesting breeds of pigeons masquerading as decorative Asian fans.

 Bird toys.

 Brilliant pheasants.


 Chickens sticking their heads out of the tops of boxes.

  Chickens sticking their heads out of the sides of boxes.



 Things that aren't chickens.

Well-organized sellers that must go to A LOT of swaps!

 Homing pigeons.

 Fuzzy, four-legged flock-watchers.

 Laying pullets that have been debeaked. 

And pretty much anything else one can imagine. I even saw somebody selling mixed-breed foxes.

I carpooled with my friend Karen. We got a chance to meet up with a number of old friends and wonderful people we met online, which made the day even better.

So - if you want to go sell at a chicken swap, what do you need to know and bring?
  • First, find out where and when chicken swaps are held in your area.
  • Find appropriate cages to keep your birds in while there. (Wire cages work well as people can see your birds easily without touching them.)
  • Be sure to bring food, water and a source of shade for your critters (and for yourself, too.)
  • Bowls for the food/water.
  • Bring money to make change for buyers.
  • Do NOT bring sick birds!
  • Extra cages so that you can keep any birds you purchase separated from your other birds. (New birds need to be quaranteined for at least 2 weeks prior to being added to your existing flock - unless it is a chick that has not been out of the brooder yet.)
  • A source of heat for any young chicks you bring. (I brought broody hens to keep my chicks warm.)
  • The "menu." This can be a large print out of what you have for sale with the prices, a whiteboard & marker, a bulletin board or any other means of listing your birds/prices. 
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Paper towels
  • A large fish net with a long handle to catch escaped birds.
  • Business cards (if you have them).
Chicken swaps are a great way to make a little money from your hobby, meet new people and add new birds to your own flock.

Just remember, the birds other people bring may not be as healthy as yours, so do not allow anybody to touch your birds unless they are buying them. Have them use hand sanitizer prior to handling your birds. Use caution when shopping for birds at a swap and if you are planning on buying new birds, have a quarantine area ready at home.

Lastly, have fun! If your spouse, friends and family roll their eyes when you start talking chicken, swaps are a great place to meet people who speak your language and appreciate your flock anecdotes. 

- Leigh  

If you live in or around Virginia, the Gilmanor Swap is held the  1st Saturday in May and the 3rd Saturday in September. Vendor spots are only $10.00 (subject to change at the discretion of the management). The address is:

Gilman's Farm & Feed
12187 Chewning Rd.
Glen Allen, VA 23059



  1. Im excited to attend a good resource i have used to find local swap meets is

  2. This was a great swap this year, and needless to say I talked myself hoarse. Then again talking with Leigh all the way home didn't help either LOL. But I'd do it again. And hopefully we will in the spring!

  3. It was great seeing you both! So glad the weather held for us.

    Excellent synopsis, Leigh!


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