Hatcheries Report Shortage as People Panic Buy Baby Chicks During COVID-19

NBC Universal, Inc.

It looks like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes aren’t the only things people hoarded during this pandemic. The nation’s biggest chicken hatcheries are reporting they are currently sold out of baby chicks.

Ariana Castillo with Family Farm in Davie says since COVID-19 hit, people have been showing up looking for baby chicks.

“Clients come and tell me, 'The world is ending, we need chickens, we need eggs in our backyards. There’s no eggs in grocery stores,'" Castillo said. 

While she was talking to NBC 6 via Skype, Jessica Rodriguez showed up to buy her kids a baby chick as their first pet.

“I think it’s a perfect time because the kids are home and they don’t have a lot to do besides school work, and it’s great to have them take care of an animal and have that responsibility,” Rodriguez said.

Tom Watkins, the vice president of Murray McMurray, one of the country’s oldest hatcheries, says chickens are great jobs for kids. 

“Feed, water and shelter, that’s all a chicken really needs,” he said. 

Watkins says families looking to keep their kids busy aren’t the only ones buying chicks. 

“Any time you’re out of eggs at the grocery store, or eggs get really expensive, we see uptick in sales. When the economy goes down, we see an uptick in sales,” he explained.  

Watkins says they’ve seen this trend since the Great Depression and as recent as 2015 when avian flu wiped out millions of laying hens in Iowa. This time, it is the uncertainty of coronavirus that appears to have doubled his sales.

“We’re completely sold out through April and most of May,” he said.

While people are scouring social media, scrambling to find chickens, the Rodriguez family just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

“We just got lucky,” Rodriguez said as she left the Family Farm with a baby chick.

Though there is a shortage now, hatcheries tell NBC 6 you can still order for a June delivery. Though raising chickens is easy, baby chicks require more care, a heating lamp and shelter from animals that prey on them so you just can’t have them outdoors. You should also check your town’s ordinance to see if you can even have chickens before you do this. 

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