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Through the coronavirus pandemic and a future of uncertainties, Americans have been flocking to bulk-buy toilet paper, groceries and cleaning disinfectants like never before. However, the latest purchasing trend in some parts of the country is allegedly agrarian: baby chickens.
In recent weeks, a chorus of reports have harmoniously chirped that people in some places in Utah, Missouri and Texas are “panic-buying” chickens. According to Food & Wine, the demand is likely driven by shortage-related anxieties during the pandemic, from more expensive egg prices to empty shelves at grocery stores, and even perhaps a desire for a more self-sufficient food supply during the ongoing outbreak.
The latest purchasing trend in some parts of the country? Baby chickens.
For example, Utah’s Ogden Intermountain Farmers Association store sold over 1,000 chicks in one day last month, the Deseret News reported. In Spring Branch, Texas, Strutty’s Feed and Pet Supply store has been selling out the entire shipments of chickens, which is 300 to 350 birds per week, the San Antonio Express-News reported on Sunday.
In Lebanon, Mo., the Cackle Hatchery hatches around 250,000 birds a week, and has seen sales increase by 100 percent so far in 2020, according to The Washington Post.
As the going gets tough and folks reportedly scramble to raise chickens, one expert is urging folks to think twice before bringing the baby birds home, in the best interest of the animals.
“If you’re thinking of buying chicks, do your work ahead of time,” Marisa Erasmus, an assistant professor of animal sciences at Purdue University, said in an interview published by the college on spiking sales of live chickens during the outbreak.
“Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. These animals are going to grow up and have very specific needs. They are reliant on us to provide for them and we have to be sure we can do that,” Erasmus said.
A representative for the American Poultry Association was not immediately available to offer further comment.