Wait-lists at hatcheries grow as Americans return to the tradition of raising their own eggs and chicken meat
There’s been a sharp rise in backyard chicken ownership, and rentals, in the wake of CoVid-19.
Hatcheries can’t keep up with orders for chickens and baby chicks, as people scramble for a more secure source of food.
“We are swamped with orders,” owner of Cackle Hatchery in Missouri Nancy Smith told NPR. “We can’t answer all the phone calls, and we are booked out several weeks on most breeds.”
“We’ve never seen anything like this and I’ve been here since 1964. Everyone is very anxious, and in some cases very impatient.”
“People are at home so they’re looking for something for their families to do while they’re home,” says Kendall Fox of Freedom Ranger Hatchery in Pennsylvania. “The other reason is the security of having food in their backyard.”
Small orders for backyard chickens are replacing large orders cancelled by factory farmers, who supply restaurants and processed food plants.
“A lot of the stores and processing plants in New York City have closed as well, and a lot of our birds end up there,” Fox says.
While most newbie-homesteaders are raising the chickens for eggs, some more hardcore preppers plan to raise the birds for their meat.
“Our most popular breed is the Freedom Ranger, a slower growing colored broiler (a meat bird),” Fox says.
It might not be a bad idea to get on the backyard chicken bandwagon according to a 2007 Mother Earth News study. The study found free-range eggs contain a third less cholesterol, a quarter less saturated fat, and more vitamin A and E, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids — than conventional grocery store eggs.