ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – In an effort to reduce egg prices, many people have elected to raise their own chickens. However, supply chain issues and a case of the avian flu have caused a ripple effect in the prices across the chicken market.
From fried eggs to chicken tenders and buffalo wings, chicken products are delicious. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic, many chicken products have seen a jump in price at the local supermarket.
“The demand is almost higher than it was during covid,” Abilene chicken owner Liz Berry said.
Like many others, Berry elected to raise her own chickens at the height of the pandemic in order to save some money on eggs. Little did she know, though, the comfort she found in taking care of her chickens would become a passion.
Now, Berry has upwards of 40 chickens and chicks on her property, learning over the years to “not count her eggs before they hatch.” Chickens are social animals and need the company of others their age, so whenever one out of 12 eggs hatches, she needs to get others of a similar age to keep the animal in good spirits.
“Right now, they’re snatching the chicks up just as soon as Jackson Bros can put them in the cages,” Berry explained.
However, Jackson Brothers Store #2 manager Jimmy Wylie said since the pandemic, chickens have flown out of their store’s coop.
While first-time buyers don’t always realize some chickens won’t lay for several months, they purchase them anyway, hoping for a fast return on their investment.
“The hatcheries are being overrun with orders and we’re not able to get the breeds we want most of the time,” Wylie said.
Higher demands can put pressure on stores like Jackson Brothers, who sell dozens of different breeds of chickens and are trying to fulfill orders for nearly half of their customer base.
It was a ripple effect started by an outbreak of avian flu, forcing many of the large hatcheries across the United States to kill off their chickens in order to keep it from spreading. A lot fewer chickens, with a now rising demand, created a major supply chain issue that has found its way to the Big Country.
“Typically, this time of year we’re getting in 700-800 layers a week, typically, but we’re down to 300-400,” Wylie added.
To put the demand in perspective, KTAB/KRBC spoke to an employee at Jackson Brothers who said they ordered 1,000 chicks a month ago and were sold out within four days.
Less supply and more demand have also resulted in increasing prices for live chickens, chicken feed, as well as processed chicken we see on the shelves. Wylie said live chicks have gone from $4 to just under $7, while starter feed has gone from $19 to $25.
Berry said she believes it will take at least another 5-6 months for the current batches of eggs and chickens to begin populating again, meaning we’ll have to be patient to eat our fried chicken and tye-dye our Easter eggs at a reasonable price.