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Ike Adams

Call me skeptical, and the Good Lord knows I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I suspect that hundreds of thousands of people are going to wish that they had stuck to hoarding toilet paper and left it at that, instead of jumping right in there and buying up every garden seed, vegetable plant and baby chicken they could lay their hands on. I'm particularly wondering about these new, trend setting, would-be, chicken growers. What on earth are they thinking?

At both the recent national and state television levels and some more localized newspapers, one of the biggest "do it yourself" fads of late, especially among millennials, has been purchasing baby chickens so folks can grow their own eggs. I realize that the cost of eggs at grocery stores has doubled or tripled in recent weeks, but I can almost guarantee that most aspiring town/city chicken farmers will be glad to pay far, far higher prices, if they are craving cackle berries, long before their new babies start laying eggs 6 months from now.

I sincerely hope that all these new chicken owners succeed because I doubt that animal shelters are set up to take in or adopt out chickens. Nor do I foresee very many of these new chicks on the block winding up on dinner tables, unless said tables belong to foxes, weasels, mink, coyotes, rats, hawks, feral cats or the neighbor's dog who caught some chickens pooping on his front porch.

I simply don't believe that most people, younger than 55, in this day and age, have the intestinal fortitude required to butcher home grown chickens, nor the patience required to grow them into egg layers. Or maybe there are smart phone or computer apps that I don't yet know about. "Alexa, make my chickens lay a dozen eggs" or "Alexa, kill and clean me the fattest fryer out there".

On the other hand if, in fact, all these new chicken growers have shelled out the cash to build the structures necessary to properly house, heat, feed, medicate and otherwise protect and care for their newly acquired livestock, I will wholeheartedly cheer them on! Juvenile and adult chickens will do fine without any heating appliances, but I'd bet good money that more baby chicks froze to death in April than COVID-19 took on the human population.

I figure an old broody/biddy/setting hen who would keep the babies warm and watched is probably worth about $500 or more about now. The babies, 3-days-old, are selling for $3.50 to $5.50 each, plus shipping costs, but you're, most likely, going to have to make a trip, way out in the country, to find a setting hen that someone is willing to part with. Even then, there's no guarantee that she's going to be willing to adopt the hatchery babies.

Be advised, too, if you are planning to become an egg producer, I just checked with six different mail order hatcheries and the next shipping dates, for any female breeds that I would consider decent egg layers, are in July. You can still buy all the males you want, but I have yet to see a rooster lay an egg. Of course, as of this writing, COVID-19 has shut down many poultry meat producers and chicken may soon be pricier than prime rib at the grocery stores. The male chicks may also soon be in high demand.

Still, unless you have had some successful experience at raising chickens or know someone willing to teach you how to do it, you are probably going to discover that beans are a far more practical and affordable source of protein than anything you are apt to get from your home grown, barn yard fowl.

We're out of space here so no room to make a proper book recommendation. However, if you, or someone you know, are among the gathering crowd that seems so determined to start growing chickens and if you have baby chicks on backorder, you might want to find some books or videos on the subject.

Alexa might be able to help you find the reference material but I seriously doubt that she's going to help take care of any new baby chickens. She might, however, be able to help you track down the nearest grocery store that has eggs for sale.

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