To Fight Eggflation, Americans Flock to Hen Houses
By: Kaydee Ambas · March 15, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes
Chicken & Eggs
With egg prices yet to yield and consumers increasingly priced out, some have taken to playing chicken – literally.
The popularity of owning chickens is on the rise. The idea of having fresh, free-range eggs in your own backyard had appeal even before inflation hit, according to Tractor Supply Co (TSCO), a company that sells chicks.
Thanks to “eggflation”, the trend is gathering momentum. Tractor Supply Co has seen chick sales more than double since 2018, and anticipates selling about 11 million more in 2023. These buyers likely see owning chickens as a way to mitigate the soaring cost of eggs.
Soaring Egg Prices
Affordable eggs were chickens one day, feathers the next.
Egg prices got hit with a double-whammy last year, given broad-based inflation’s outsized impact on grocery prices, coupled with a surprise supply shock: bird flu. The avian flu resulted in the death of over 58 million farm birds since January 2022, sending the supply of eggs plummeting and prices soaring by around 70% over the trailing year.
Count Your Chickens
Experts warn maintaining a backyard coop without proper planning can leave you running around with your head cut off. But if it sounds like the ideal solution to you, don’t chicken out. Here are some tips on how to have the best hen house on the block.
• Avoid roosters. Cock-a-doodle-doos don’t just pose a problem for you and neighbors, but potentially for local ordinances, too. It can be difficult to determine the sex of a chick, so you may need to find a new home for a rooster if it slips into your hen house.
• Protect your flock. Adequate housing is necessary to keep your investment safe from predators. But this in and of itself is an investment. The cost can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
• Vet fees aren’t chicken feed. Budget generously for bird food and veterinary care.
• Be patient. Chicks may not lay eggs for up to six months. And even then, they will likely only produce for a few years.
• Be certain. Owning chickens is a big decision, and a tricky one to go back on. Should you change your mind, farm rescues may turn away adoptees due to bird flu concerns.
With proper planning, you can avoid unpleasant surprises, not to mention prices.
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