My family has raised chickens for the past 6 or 7 years, and getting new birds is something I always look forward to. We used to buy day-old baby chicks (purchased in-town at the farm store, or mail-order from a large hatchery), and this is definitely a pretty fun solution. I especially recommend it if you have a kid or two or more around the house, since they usually appreciate the "watching things grow" aspect of the process. Having done this a few times, however, I'll admit that I eventually got tired of waiting 6 months for those little peepers to start producing eggs. My solution? I started buying year old hens that were already laying. In our area, it is pretty easy to find someone who is looking to downsize their flock. $10-15 per bird is usually about the going rate, and so it is reasonably affordable to build up a flock of 4-6 chickens. Baby chicks will usually cost $3 or so each, so you pay a bit more for older birds, but bear in mind that somebody else paid to feed your new adult birds until the moment they became yours. All things considered, buying "used" chickens is the way I'll probably always do it from now on.
Anybody else out there raise chickens? Or, are there any chicken-related questions that I can answer?