Raising chickens proves to be an increasingly popular pandemic hobby.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live in a variety of ways. With all the extra time spent at home, people are picking up plenty of different and rewarding new hobbies and skills. As it turns out, one of those hobbies is raising chickens—and surprisingly, there are a lot of people doing it.
Backyard chicken ownership has already seen a big upswing in recent years. In fact, it was estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that around 13 million Americans raised chickens in 2019, and the pandemic pushed that into overdrive, says AARP.
One of the most obvious reasons people get chickens is for the fresh eggs each week. Free-range eggs contain about a third less cholesterol, less saturated fat, more vitamins A and E, and more omega-3 fatty acids, making them healthier than regular grocery store eggs. Medical News Today reports that not only are eggs from free-range chickens healthier, but the chickens themselves also have a better quality of life.
When the pandemic hit back in March, hatcheries began seeing a boom in business, with more calls coming in for baby chicks. Some, like the Cackle Hatchery in Missouri, normally hatch close to 250,000 chicks a week, as noted by The Washington Post. Feed and livestock supply stores around the country also reported an increase in feed sales through the spring and summer.
A few key points to remember about starting a backyard chicken flock:
- The rental option allows for mature chickens to be laying eggs in your backyard coop shortly after being delivered, whereas chickens raised from chicks will need about six months to mature before laying eggs. Rent A Coop and Rent the Chicken are companies that rent chickens out across the United States and will cost about $500 for six months.
- Do your research before you get any chickens or chicks. Learn about breeds and care at raisinghappychickens.com.
- Keep it simple when it comes to chickens. This can get expensive and become a much larger operation than intended very quickly.
Do you have any experience with backyard chickens? Have you noticed more people with backyard coops in your neighborhood? Sound off in the comments.