In recent years, an increasing number of American households have embraced the practice of raising chickens in their backyards. This growing trend, which gained significant momentum during the pandemic, has turned into a full-blown phenomenon that has captured the interest of urban and rural dwellers alike.
Although raising backyard chickens has been a longstanding practice, the COVID-19 pandemic propelled this trend to new heights, with more people setting up coops and raising chickens in their backyards. Reasons for this surge in popularity range from food security concerns to an increasing desire for self-sustainability and a closer connection to nature.
Patrick Merrit, a fifth-generation chicken keeper and author, has witnessed the remarkable rise of backyard chickens and offers resources for beginners on his website, Christian Homesteading. Merrit emphasizes the importance of considering one’s overall budget and lifestyle when planning an ideal first flock, including whether to start with day-old chicks or started pullets.
Despite the increased interest in backyard chickens, there have been few studies to provide statistics on these flocks. However, the Poultry Science Association recently published a survey from about 1,500 chicken owners nationwide, offering valuable insights into the scale of this trend.
As the demand for backyard chickens surged, some entrepreneurs have found a niche market in the sale of rare and endangered breeds of chicks. One such entrepreneur is the owner of Paradise Poultry, who began raising these breeds three years ago and saw his business thrive as the pandemic hit Hawaii in early 2020.
While many backyard chicken enthusiasts primarily focus on raising birds for their own consumption, some have also turned their hobby into a profitable venture. A Wisconsin family, for example, nets between $2 and $6 per bird for their pasture-raised poultry and partners with two other producers in processing and marketing their pasture-raised poultry. This demonstrates the potential for backyard chicken raising to not only provide food security but also generate income for families.
In addition to the economic benefits, raising backyard chickens offers several other advantages, such as producing fresh, organic eggs and providing natural pest control. Moreover, chickens are known to produce high-quality fertilizer in the form of their manure, which can be used to improve the soil in gardens and flower beds.
However, the growing trend of raising backyard chickens is not without its challenges. As the demand for chicks and eggs has increased, so too have concerns about supply shortages and price inflation.
Despite the challenges, the trend of raising backyard chickens shows no signs of slowing down. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of self-sufficiency and food security, prompting many to reconsider their relationship with the food they consume. As more people continue to explore backyard chicken raising as a means of connecting with nature and fostering a sense of self-reliance, the demand for resources and support in this field is expected to grow.
In conclusion, the trend of raising backyard chickens has taken flight in recent years, fueled by a growing desire for self-sufficiency, food security, and a closer connection to nature. As more people continue to embrace this practice, the demand for resources, support, and education in backyard chicken keeping is expected to increase. As a result, backyard chicken raising may well become a permanent fixture in the landscape of American food production and sustainable living.