Although becoming a backyard farmer may seem like a good idea on the surface, it is a commitment when all is said and done.
I think that all of us recognize how much life has changed now that the coronavirus pandemic has gripped the world. We see changes in the way that we interact with each other, and certainly, we are seeing changes in the economy. It seems as if there is also another change coming, and that’s the fact that you may see a lot more chickens in your local area. In fact, chickens are becoming quite popular, now that the possibility of an egg shortage is looming.
Websites, such as Modern Farmer have run articles about raising backyard chickens. The thought of raising chickens used to be a novelty for most people, but now, it seems as if it is being considered by more and more people every day. Interestingly, baby chicks are also becoming something that is bought due to panic, either online or at a store.
Reports from farm supply stores in a number of states in the United States are saying they are selling out of chicks. In some cases, they have even had to put limits on how many could be purchased per customer! The Wisconsin State Farmer heard from the Ogden [Utah] Intermountain Farmers Association that they sold 1000 chicks in one day.
Another feed and pet supply in San Antonio, Strutty’s, reported that customers are making a “mad dash for the chickens” when they get their weekly supply of up to 350 birds. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, Missouri, NPR has been told that the Cackle Hatchery is “swamped with orders” recently.
It is obvious that the coronavirus pandemic is driving the run on backyard birds. It may be that eggs are increasing in price or perhaps that meat and eggs are becoming increasingly difficult to find at the supermarket. In either case, people are looking for a way to ensure that they have an ongoing supply of what they need.
Homeschooled kids are also using chickens in some cases for their lessons. According to the New York Times, one Oregon mom, Erin Scheessele purchased a starter flock for her two sons, who are 9 and 11 years old. She said: “Chickens are a great way of tying in biology, animal behavior, math, and other subjects.”
Although becoming a backyard farmer may seem like a good idea on the surface, it is a commitment when all is said and done. An assistant professor of animal sciences at Purdue University, Marisa Erasmus, said that it might not be the best time to buy a backyard flock when we’re dealing with a pandemic.
“If you’re thinking of buying chicks, do your work ahead of time,” she said. “Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. These animals are going to grow up and have very specific needs. They are reliant on us to provide for them and we have to be sure we can do that.”
She said that you should at least know how you are going to house the birds, what their nutritional requirements are, and how to see if they are injured or ill.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is that any chicks you buy today may not lay eggs for another six months. “It’s an exciting time to see the backyard industry grow, but it’s also a concerning time,” said Christie Quintanilla, who operates Cluckingham Palace farm outside San Antonio.
“My hope is that all of these people buying chicks and chickens will stay loyal to them, because the chick buyers aren’t going to see any eggs until at least late August or September, and the health climate is going to be different then… I hope.”