How many people have gotten chickens in the past five years? The answer might surprise you.
Thinking about getting chickens in 2021? If so, you aren’t alone. In the last five years, especially in the last year, raising backyard chickens has exploded.
There are several reasons why. The statistics alone prove something you probably already know, raising backyard chickens isn’t just enjoyable, it’s a matter of common sense. Here you will learn some interesting numbers for you to consider. Here are a few reasons why you should get started raising backyard chickens.
How Many People Have Gotten Chickens in the Past 5 Years?
The history of raising chickens is a colorful one, with more people than ever starting to raise chickens within the last five years alone.
At one point, U.S. cities were powered by animals. Horses provided transportation, pigs and hens roamed freely through the streets. They munched on household garbage, and cattle were driven up Fifth Avenue in New York City as late as the 1800s, sometimes accidentally trampling pedestrians.
By the 1920s, this was no longer commonplace as the risk of accidents, disease, and other issues was recognized. The first ordinances were passed around this time banning urban livestock. Whole chicken ownership surged a bit during both of the World Wars, it’s only been in the last four or five years in which more people have expressed an interest in raising backyard poultry.
Backyard Chicken Statistics 2019 vs 2020
There is no official count on the number of people in the United States who raise chickens, but a 2013 study by the USDA predicted that by 2019, 5% of Americans, or 13 million people, would be raising their own backyard flocks.
Those numbers have proven to be true, with sales of chickens and chicken-related products surging in the last five years. Amazon alone has nearly 100 listings just for prefabricated chicken coops. The Amazon search volume at the beginning of 2020 grew rapidly, too – searches for baby chick supplies were up by a whopping 758% while those for chicken nesting boxes were up by 126%.
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Increase Demand for Chicken Products
This isn’t surprising. When there is a crisis – as we’ll describe below – chick sales tend to go up as people look to boost their self-reliance. My Pet Chicken, a hatchery in Connecticut, reported that by the 1st week of March 2020, sales were already at 98% of the previous year’s figures. By the end of March, that number increased – to more than 500%!
Reasons For The Increase
While this growth was fueled primarily by the COVID-19 crisis, there have been other reasons for a spike in backyard chicken keeping. People are becoming increasingly concerned about where their food comes from and have a desire to become more self-sufficient.
In many cases, people who live in urban areas are interested in raising chickens to help reduce their environmental impact. When you can eat eggs fresh from your own backyard rather than those trucked halfway across the country, you’re doing your part to reduce fossil fuel usage. Plus, there’s the fact that you can use that chicken manure as fertilizer in your new backyard garden, too!
Some people turned to backyard chicken keeping prior to the pandemic out of concerns that factory-farmed chickens were not being raised in sanitary conditions – reflecting worry both for the chickens’ wellbeing as well as for our own health.
If you want to provide food for your own family but live in the city, raising chickens is a logical choice. A 2015 study showed that of the 150 most populated cities in the United States, nearly all (93%) allowed backyard chickens – you probably won’t find the same statistics for pigs or cows!
The Coronavirus Chicken Surge
If you frequented a grocery store at all in 2020 after COVID-19 started sweeping the globe, you probably noticed that the shelves there were looking a little less than well-stocked.
This was particularly true with animal products, like milk, meat, and eggs. As a result, more people began to wonder whether it would make sense to raise their own animals to help shore up supplies and to make sure they would be provided for regardless of what the next year or two might bring. This has contributed to how many people have gotten chickens in the past five years.
Because of this, hatcheries saw a huge rise in demand. Cackle Hatchery, one of the United States’ top chicken suppliers, normally hatches about 250,000 baby birds per week in its Missouri-based facility.
In 2020, though, the hatchery saw a 100% increase in sales before the month of March was even over.
Cackle wasn’t the only hatchery that saw a huge rise in demand. McMurray Hatchery, a hatchery located in Iowa, sells millions of chicks and hatching eggs each year. The hatchery was so busy in the latter part of March that callers had to wait in a line to order or even submit an inquiry, often waiting for dozens of people already ahead of them to place their orders first.
This surge in demand wasn’t just for egg-layers, either, the more common type of chicken that people raise. In fact, the demand was experienced across the board, with increased demand for broilers, also known as meat chickens. More people began to call themselves “homesteaders” and there was a dramatic increase in traffic to homesteading-related magazines, websites, and other sources of information.
Some of this had to do with the perceived hoarding that was going on as part of the COVID-19 pandemic. From Clorox wipes to toilet paper, and of course, eggs and meat, people were afraid that they weren’t going to be able to buy the goods they needed in the grocery store. Not only that, but raising your own chickens at home would eliminate the need to go to the store for at least one thing.
The increase in how many people have gotten chickens in the past five years, could also be tied to elevated prices, too. Egg prices soared as more people were confined to their kitchens and succumbing to panic-buying frenzies. Wholesale egg prices in the Midwest skyrocketed from $1.03 per dozen to more than $3.09 per dozen in a matter of just a couple of weeks.
What Are Backyard Chickens Used For?
For the most part, a majority of new chicken keepers are turning to backyard chickens primarily for their eggs. If you’re raising chickens in an urban or suburban environment, there’s a good chance that your local zoning laws restrict you on how many chickens you can raise. That’s usually six hens, Roosters are often prohibited.
As you likely know, though, you don’t need a rooster in order to get eggs. A flock of six hens is plenty when it comes to providing enough eggs for a large family, usually with some to spare.
Most hatcheries have seen increased demand related to how many people have gotten chickens in the past five years. This increased demand is for egg-laying breeds like Leghorns. The number of eggs that a chicken can lay each week will vary. This can be influenced by breed, age, and sunlight conditions. The range is from two to six eggs each week.
While most people have started raising backyard chickens for eggs, many have turned to chickens for meat. One of the most popular breeds is the Freedom Ranger, a slower-growing colored broiler that produces flavorful, tender meat. Other chicken keepers rely on faster-growing hybrids, like the Cornish Cross.
And if you can’t decide whether you want to raise chickens for eggs or meat, don’t worry. You can always raise dual-purpose birds. Some options include Rhode Island Reds and Plymouth Rocks. These are the kinds of birds you likely saw pecking around the yard at your grandparents’ houses. Many of them have been around since the 1700s or 1800s.
Another reason we’ve seen an increase in how many people have gotten chickens in the past five years, is for entertainment. Starting a flock of chickens doesn’t have to be expensive, and as more people look to slash their budgets and find enjoyable ways to spend their time. It’s a hobby worth considering. Besides the cost of the chicks themselves, you’ll also have the expense for food and housing.
Backyard poultry raising has become a fashionable way to spend your time, particularly for people who are stuck at home due to COVID-19 restrictions. There’s a renewed public interest in raising chickens, whether that’s for a fun 4H or science project for your now-homeschooled kids or just to pass the time on the weekends.
As we have shown you, how many people have gotten chickens in the past five years has certainly grown – but is it Right For You?
Something most longtime chicken owners know is that caring for backyard chickens requires a serious investment of both time and money. When you purchase baby chicks, you can’t put them right into the coop. You need to provide them with water, starter feed, and heat. After they’re fully grown, the work doesn’t end, even if you’re raising free-range chickens. You still need to provide them with feed every day along with regular water changes.
If you’re considering raising chickens, be sure to check out our other articles on the subject. Research the right breed for you, reading about the various breeds that are registered with the American Poultry Association.
Ultimately, the decision about whether to raise backyard chickens is one you’ll have to make for yourself. No doubt, when you consider how many people have gotten chickens in the past five years, it will be easy to convince yourself to jump on the bandwagon!