Three-day-old chicks from the hatcheries had been selling out as soon as they arrived at the local feed stores as soon as they were available from the hatcheries this spring. I attributed it to folks in rural areas noticing the rise in both grocery store prices AND the meteoric rise in feed prices and taking steps to ensure some food security for their family. It takes approximately 25 weeks for the chick to mature enough to start laying eggs, depending on the breed, so the earlier they purchase the chicks, the sooner they’ll get some small return on their investment of time, care, and housing.
A person that buys three or four female chicks from a feed store, puts out, say, $300 (or much more!) for a chicken house and run so that they’ll have protection from predators, a heat lamp and place inside to keep the chicks when they’re small, purchases feeders and waterers because most folks that haven’t been around poultry don’t know how to make their own and, frankly, it’s easier to just pick ’em up at the feed store, and then waits for 25 weeks for their first tiny pullet eggs (about the size of a bird egg when they begin laying) aren’t really looking for a financial return on investment. They’re deeply worried about their jobs, the future, and the country’s food supply. There’s something satisfying about being able to go out and gather eggs from your own hens at the end of the day.
I was startled last week when a nice solidly middle-class woman in a suburban subdivision with HOA (and city) restrictions told me that she wanted some nice, quiet, docile hens to hide in her (privacy fenced) back yard. We discussed the pros and cons of some of the different breeds that she had in mind. I also gave her the name of a hatchery with some online information so that she could do further research.
Food insecurity must be more widespread than I thought.