Local resident Garrett Hammarlund reached Murdoch’s with mere minutes to spare on a recent Friday morning, less than 40 minutes after the store opened and an employee announced on Facebook that …
Local resident Garrett Hammarlund reached Murdoch’s with mere minutes to spare on a recent Friday morning, less than 40 minutes after the store opened and an employee announced on Facebook that chicks were on site and for sale.
Hammarlund was lucky as he bought the entire bin full of Red Star Link chicks — the previous two mornings Murdoch’s had gotten chicks in they had all been sold out in 20 minutes, noted Darby Thomas, the store’s animal science specialist.
“They don’t last long,” she said.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns led to ripple effects all around the nation including egg shortages. After the recent bird flu pandemic that’s led to a spike in the cost of a carton of eggs, hens to lay those eggs have become a hot commodity.
“It’s craziness,” Hammarlund said. “I’ve got some on order, but they’re not coming for awhile so I wanted to get a bunch more.”
He’s an experienced chicken owner, as is Thomas, but both have noticed how much harder its been to order chicks — ordering chicks straight from a hatchery through the mail is a common practice. Darby said when she went to hatcheries to order chickens, the time she usually wants for delivery wasn’t even available.
The demand for chicks has led the Big Horn Co-op store in Powell to get back in to selling chicks after having not done so the last few years.
Brenna Hatch a staff member at the Co-op said she’s running into the same problems as others though as she has struggled to get in orders for chicks early in the year.
“It’s been nuts trying to get them in early,” she said. “It’s been crazy.”
Still, she was able to set up shipments of chicks starting in early March.
The hatcheries are struggling with their own supply as well. According to a New York Times story from February, hatcheries from around the country are reporting that demand is heavy this year, according to the Times story. Many attribute the spike to high grocery prices, and particularly to rapid inflation for eggs, which in December cost nearly 60% more than a year earlier.
Still, when adding the cost of chicken feed, shelter and other items necessary to care for even a small flock, backyard chickens aren’t going to lead to any big savings.
But, as the sounds of cheeping emanate from local stores early in the morning after an order of chicks is delivered, you can count on a crowd forming around to look at the small balls of fluff on legs scampering around.
Even Thomas, who deals with chicks as much as anyone, lingers around after Hammarlund leaves with his boxes of chicks to watch a group of black Jersey giant chicks still remaining.