I've been interested in poultry for over 2 decades now and find ebay a useful tool for sourcing breeds and strains I'm interested in. However in the last few years, with the rise in popularity of poultry keeping I have seen the more unpleasant side of things come out on ebay. People selling eggs from chickens they haven't got.
Some people have been known to go to their nearest poultry sale and buy trays of hatching eggs. They can have no idea if the eggs are viable, or fresh, or that the parent stock is pure bred or not or if they are diseased. Mycoplasma for example can be carried in the eggs and chicks hatched may have it which will spread to the rest of the flock.
I have seen common breeds, described as 'rare' when they are nothing of the sort. I have seen pictures of what is supposed to be a pure bred, which is obviously not , placed there in all ignorance with no intention to deceive, by a novice poultry keeper who bought the breed without doing any research into the breed, from someone local to them, because they were cheap. I contacted a seller in recent weeks to ask why his Dutch bantam cockerel in the photograph had a rose comb when Dutch do not have rose combs but upright combs. The seller didn't realise and kudos to him, altered his listing and removed the statement that they were Dutch bantams. They had been sold to him by an unscrupulous seller, or someone once again who didn't know and didn't bother to find out.
Another thing I have notice of late is the listing with an incorrect name. For example, Polish bantams being listed as 'crested Dutch'. They are not known as crested Dutch in the UK, or America. I have no idea where the breeders get this made up name from nor why they list as such. Is it in order to appear knowledgeable or to confuse novices or perhaps to try to make others think that they have something rare and expensive in order to get higher bids? Crolwlwitzer turkeys refered to as 'royal palm' turkeys. In the UK, they are Crollwitzers. In America they are called 'Royal palm' so why use the American name when this is a UK site?
Do these sellers also call Pyrenean mountain dogs 'great pyrenees' as the Americans do?
Let us breeders do things properly and stop trying to con or confuse people, call breeds by the names they are known in this country.
I have seen splash coloured cochins (a non standard marking which cannot be described as a colour as it doesn't breed true) described as show winning birds. They cannot be show winning because they are non standard and cannot be shown. It's a bit like someone telling you that their pink spotted Damatian was a show winning dog even though only black or liver spotted come within the breed standard and can be shown.One regular seller on ebay advertises his birds as 'show quality' or 'show winning' and shows photos of birds in cages with red cards. What they fail to mention is that these are not prize cards at a show as he states but red cards at a graded sale. A graded sale is a poultry auction where a grader evaluates the cages full of birds and assesses them 'show quality' or 'breeding stock'. The former gets a red card and the latter a blue one. They are not prize cards and the grader has not necessarily judged them against others of the breed. All poultry sales are full of lots of different birds and the grader may not even be a judge and may not know a thing about all of the breeds he is grading. Anyone can buy a pen of birds at a graded sale but to list them as show winning birds, show photos and state that they won at such and such a show which was NOT a show but a sale is deliberately misleading and nothing more than a con. The real test is to enter those birds into a proper show, up against others of the same breed, judged by a proper qualified show judge who knows the breed. There is a lot of skill preparing for example cochins (one of my breeds) for show and however good you think the birds are which you bought from a graded sale, if you don't then prove their quality by entering them at a show, you cannot say that they are show winning or show quality because you have no idea. I could say that any of my dogs are show quality or show winning, but since I don't show my dogs, that would be a deception. Anyone can talk big, but the proof is in winning some top awards at proper shows, NOT at poultry sales!!
Pure bred birds are fascinating in their diversity of sizes , shapes, colours, temperament. That's why I love them and no doubt those of you who bid on eggs, also want to keep. Selling eggs from stock that you have never seen, or from birds you know nothing about, makes you simply an egg broker at best and a con merchant at worst.
Of course the bidder has to take some responsibility too. Research your breed of choice, join the breed club perhaps, contact a breeder and ask advice, ask the seller lots of questions like: are the birds pictured, their own birds, or have the pictures been stolen from someone else's website?How long have they had the breed? Are the eggs all from their own stock? Would it be possible to collect the eggs and perhaps see the birds.
In my opinion, refusal of the latter is suspicious. One seller I know of some years ago was selling eggs from a range of breeds when in fact he lived in a council house on an estate and didn't have any chickens at all! He bought from the local poultry mart and made a nice profit out of the increasingly popular poultry scene. I am not allowed to write here what I think of such people.
So bidders, do your research, ask breeders like myself for information, use google and ask plenty of questions. I for one am always happy to chat about chickens and do not mind in the least if someone phones or emails me to ask advice. I am happy to help.
If you cannot be bothered and don't care what eggs you buy as long as they are cheap, why bother with ebay at all, as anonymous eggs from nondescript fowl can be bought for pennies at any poultry mart.
For those of you who are bothered, then do your homework.
If you went to buy a puppy, where would you go? The local dog dealer who shows you a pup, but you cannot see the parents, and the cocker spaniel you thought you were buying turns out to be a great dane crossed with a springer spaniel, I bet you'de be annoyed? The same goes for chickens and hatching eggs. If you went to buy a pup from a responsible breeder who was happy to show you the parents and you could see that they are good examples of the breed, you will be happy.Same goes for chickens.
If you buy eggs from a bantam breed, like my own beloved 'Dutchies' for example, which should be less than 20 ounces, and the resulting hatches turn out to weigh 3 lbs when fully grown, as much as you love them, you have not been sold what you expected.If you ever decide you might like to show them, you will be disappointed because your birds are not within the standard.Look at photographs carefully and compare it to the breed standard, especially if claims are made that they are champions or show stock. I've seen birds described as such with really poor combs without the correct number of spikes and even blue cochins with buff feathers on the neck. There is no way such birds could win unless it was a class of one at a tiny local show which wasn't one held under poultry club rules!
Another thing to beware of is buying eggs in the late Autumn. You will note that I don't sell eggs after September. This is because fertility drops dramatically once the days get colder and shorter. Add to this the strain of going through the post and you would be lucky to hatch any eggs at all. Buy your eggs in Spring for optimum fertility.
So make sure you ask. Breeders and members of poultry clubs like myself are always happy to answer questions and help anyone new to poultry. It costs nothing to ask after all and who has so much money that they can afford to waste it?
Pictured is one of my best winning blue partridge Dutch bantam cockerels.
Also my Welsummer bantam hen who won 'Best soft feathered, light fowl bantam' and got a mention in the Fancy fowl magazine earlier this year (2006).
And my show winning buff cochin cockerel. A proper show win, not simply a grading card at a poultry sale!!
For anyone interested in Dutch bantams, please go to my ME page for a link to the club website.I have one of the largest collections of colours in the country. My name is on the breeder page.