Chicken boom in Idaho: More and more residents raise broilers, layers in coops

Jul 23rd, 2015 | By | Category: Agriculture, Uncategorized

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PHOTO COURTESY OF PRESTON CITIZEN
Kirynie Bacon, 6, holds freshly collected eggs from the family’s chicken coop.
It’s been a big year so far for people raising backyard chickens.

By Rodney D. Boam
Preston Citizen

Chicken coops seem to be popping up in Franklin County and across the country.

Hatcheries are seeing a boom in chick sales.

After a fire this spring destroyed 25 freshly hatched chicks in Banida, Idaho, Lauren Gleed’s family bought 25 more when things cooled down a bit. Her family likes having chickens around and said they are a good addition to their small farm.

“Besides their eggs, they are great for eating bugs and they kill mice,” she said. “I don’t know if they eat the mice, but they peck them to death.”

Gleed also works at Preston’s IFA and noticed they sold more birds than in the past. They sell a lot of chicks every spring.

Valley Wide, at the south end of Preston, also found they sold more chicks this season than in past years, according to Bridget Checketts, assistant manager.

In 2013 they sold 818, and during 2014 sold 978. This year, the store sold 1,322, she said. Checketts said she didn’t know if some folks are buying them new or are replacing their stock.

Regional and national chick suppliers have also seen an increase in their market areas. For instance, Angie Dunlap, of Dunlap Hatchery of Caldwell, said they have seen a jump in their demand for chicks and other yard birds nationally.

“We generally ship nearly 150,000 chicks a week from February to June,” she said. “I don’t have the exact number, but we are shipping more this year.”

A Privett Hatchery representative from the New Mexico hatchery said they also have seen an increase in a variety of freshly hatched chicks, including ducks, geese, pheasants and other domesticated birds.

Stuart Parkinson, an extension educator for the University of Idaho, said people might be trying to become more self-sufficient.

“More and more people are nervous about the economy,” Parkinson said. “There are people interested in home-egg production. They are either getting broilers or layers. The layers will live a few years and produce eggs.”

Parkinson said most cities are rewriting ordinances to allow people to have chickens.

Kelsey Bacon moved into his grandmother’s Fairview home the spring of 2010. A year later, he started raising chickens. He, his wife Katrina, and four children came from England to the family homestead. Though the Bacons have lived in many cities and states, as well as England, they are ready to call Fairview home and enjoy the rural lifestyle of being able to eat what you grow.

He said they try to be as self-sufficient as possible.

He currently has 11 chickens and started to have a large collection of eggs. It was time to sell them, he said. He started advertising eggs on the Internet and is waiting the fruits of his efforts. Bacon sells them for $3 a dozen.

Gus and Cindy Bowles, also of Fairview, are in the process of building a chicken coop to house their six chicks they found at American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Utah.

They got a late start and found the Heritage Center in Wellsville was advertising that they had some birds for sale.

“We have a big garden and grow what we can in case we can’t get to the store. We try to have what we need right here,” Bowles said. “We want to be able to eat in case we don’t have a way to get to the store.”

Eggs are also a big factor in commercial enterprises.

Preston’s Tattles restaurant uses five to six cases a week, said manger and cook Brenda Pitcher.

“We use them for almost everything we serve for breakfast,” said Angel Anderson, who cooks and serves at the popular diner. “We cook eggs for customers and use them in French toast and pancakes.”

Carol Parker, of the Preston Senior Citizens Center, said they also use several double cases a week depending on the season for rolls, desserts and other baked goods.

Although there have been no avian flu cases found in Idaho, the egg industry has been struggling in some parts of the U.S. Avian flu has been found in 15 states. As many as 174 farms have had to destroy 38.9 million birds, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

The shortage of eggs means they are being imported to meet the demand of the food industry. As a result, prices charged for eggs have increased dramatically.

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