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I began raising chickens for eggs and meat in 2014. By 2019, I had developed a routine of what I ordered when. I had a set time of year for when I would order chicks. In 2020, when I set out to order my late-summer batch of birds, I realized I would have to wait more than a month later than usual. Every hatchery I looked at had sold out.
When I went to our local hardware store to talk to the employees about their chick sales, they confirmed what the New York Times had written in the article America Stress-Bought All the Baby Chickens. People were snatching up chicks as fast as they could in the midst of lockdown. They turned to baby chicks last year for the same reasons they turned to gardening and home cooking. A combination of boredom, irregular stocking of grocery stores, and the need for activities to keep children busy led to massive amounts of people buying baby chicks.
While in general, I think any project that brings people closer to the natural world is a good thing, chickens are a responsibility. I am concerned about how many people bought baby birds without doing the necessary research.
Are you interested in starting your own little home flock?
If you are considering raising chickens, here are some things worth keeping in mind. For a good overview of maintaining healthy birds in general, I strongly recommend Gail Damerow's Chicken Health Handbook. She has useful, detailed information on bird health and some handy charts that can help troubleshoot various issues. It's a great resource to have on hand.