Why people are panic buying live chickens

DEMAND: Mt Roland Free Range Eggs' Angela and Phil Glover have seen a massive rise in chicken sales during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo: Scott Gelston
DEMAND: Mt Roland Free Range Eggs' Angela and Phil Glover have seen a massive rise in chicken sales during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo: Scott Gelston

While many are taking their chances in the egg aisles of supermarkets, the more adventurous are knocking at farm gates to secure their own flock to combat COVID-19 panic buying.

Chicken producers and those selling supplies are reporting a surge in sales as people look to secure a steady supply of eggs.

Mt Roland Free Range Eggs owner Angela Glover said the Tasmanian farm had been overwhelmed with inquiries to purchase chickens.

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The business had between 1000 and 1500 chickens for sale and now has only a few hundred left, which she expects will be cleared pretty quickly.

"We've definitely seen a big increase; it varies but we are selling 100 to 200 chickens a day at the moment," Mrs Glover said.

"They are just walking out of the door. They normally do go fairly well but nowhere near to this level.

"We don't ever have any trouble getting rid of them, but normally it would take a lot longer.

"We've been inundated with calls and texts for chickens."

Panic buying, Mrs Glover said, was definitely a factor.

"I think people are just a bit concerned about whether they can still get eggs or whether we are going to run out of food and they are just grabbing chickens.

"You always get the usuals that come back and buy their chickens, but there is a lot of new people - and I would say more city, townie people who have never had chickens before.

"There's a lot of newcomers on the block."

In a time of perceived restrictions, resourceful Australians seem to be returning to the time-honoured tradition of producing their own food.

"I believe that's what's going to happen, people are just realising how quickly a supermarket can clear out and just panicking and wondering where their food is going to come from - which I don't think is going to be an issue."

Owner of Aussie Chook Supplies Christine Dinas said demand for supplies and information about rearing chickens had also increased significantly.

The online business is based in Cranbourne, Victoria, and supplies products to breeders and chook-lovers across the country.

She agreed that chickens appear to be an in-demand item for households.

"I spoke to a friend who had some chooks in his backyard who was having some trouble with them.

"I'm always getting inquiries and I said to him, 'we can help you move those if you want to give it a try'.

"I advertised them on Gumtree and we sold just under 100 chickens in 24 hours.

"At the moment I'm still getting 20 to 30 phone calls or emails a day."

Mrs Dinas said breeders were all saying the same thing - chickens are in short supply.

"We have seen and heard from breeders from all over Australia that there is now a huge shortage of chickens that people can't either find the breeders or the numbers of chickens they are after, and no one knows how long we are in it for - so it's all just a waiting game."

Mrs Dinas urged people to check local government regulations for keeping chickens in their backyard.

"There are certain regulations that you may need to check on - how many chickens, what size coup you're allowed to keep, distances between neighbours or fencing boundaries. Those types of regulations are very common in all council areas."

Mrs Dinas emphasised that amidst the panic, educating people on how to take care of their flock was important.

"It's important to support them on their journey, give them the right information so they can do the right thing, from the word go," she said.

If you fancy buying a chicken before you do remember that 21 million hens are laying eggs for farmers, so there won't be an egg shortage.

For top tips on keeping your chooks happy and healthy, click here or visit the RSPCA Knowledgebase.

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This story Why people are panic buying live chickens first appeared on The Canberra Times.