I want to get 3-5 chickens for eggs only. Did you get fancy chickens from a catalog? Or humble chickens from a feed store.
Well.... I grew up on a farm (don't live on one now) and my dad always bought hens at the feed store. We used to raise chickens - not a lot of them - to sell eggs. I'm partial to Rhode Island Reds...
from a local chicken "farmer" who has broiler houses. He raises chickens commercially, and the food markets only accept white chickens - darker birds' feathers make the meat look a little darker. Anyway, all of the darker day-old chicks that are delivered to the broiler farms are culled - aka KILLED because they can't use them. IMO, getting these chicks is a good way to save some them from a horrible life of confinement, overfeeding, crowding, and only about a six week life-span. And they're free for us.
Before thois was an option for us, though, we bought our chicks from "Ideal Poultry" and had great results. We ordered Rhode Island Reds, Golden Sex-Links, and Barred Rocks. All of the chicks arrived in great condition and healthy, and they even included a few extras at no cost.
You might not be able to get only 3-5 hens through a catalog. We order through Murray McMurray and they will only ship 25 or more at a time so they dont get chilled. (Barred Rocks are my fave)
Another option that may be available to you is to buy some hens at a fair. We got a nice pair of Araucanas at the VA State Fair for $20.
(BTW our local feed store orders chickens from the same place we do)
If you only want a few you should probably visit feed stores in your area (that sell horse supplies and such) they usually order chicks several times each spring and summer and you can buy just a few. 2 or 3 is too small for a catalog order, unless you're splitting with several people. We've ordered chicks from Ideal too - our fave "catalog" company
We've hatched out eggs, adopted rescue chickens, ordered and raised chicks mail order, and just recently bought some older layers from a farmer down the road. You may want to try the buy/sell board at backyardchickens.com - just post what you're looking for. Have fun!
we haven't bought ours yet, buy mcmurray seems the obvious choice if you want unusual breeds (and can meet the min.).
if you have a local hatchery that has the breed you want, though, i say go with them. the chicks will have the advantage of not being shipped across the country.
where we will be living, we are near to estes hatchery, and will be picking ours up in person. http://www.esteshatchery.com
I checked one local feed store, but they won't have any till next spring, as it is too hot right now. I will check some other feed stores and google local hatcheries.
Thanks for all the input, I had no idea, but there is a hatchery local to me and they directed me to a feed store that had some chicks. We got a Rhode Island Red and an Auracana.