“It was like Black Friday,” Andrea Scott said. “We’d throw up the doors and people were swarming us. We’d sell out in an hour.”
Scott owns DeLand Feed and Pet Supply/ Lewis Feed in DeLand. She talked to The Beacon about the spring run on chicks and gave some insight as to why it happened this year.
Her store received between 100 and 200 chicks per week from a farm in Texas. Scott would post the run of chicks coming in on her store’s Facebook page, and within a short time of arrival have to post “Sold out” for the week.
“We usually would sell 100 chicks in five days,” she said. “Never in one hour.”
Scott said she’s seen a trend toward a more agriculture-based life, especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“When COVID first came out, they said the chicks sold out like this,” Scott said. “People were home, they were bored, and the chickens were selling faster. But that died down.”
This past year, however, Scott said she’s seen an increase on everything, not just chicks. People buy more vegetable seeds, pigs, goats, other livestock and, of course, chickens.
“People are going back to raising their food,” Scott said.
She said that, coupled with supply-chain issues and egg shortages in late 2022 and early 2023, most likely caused the run on chickens, though.
“I do think that the supply of eggs and chicken scared people,” Scott said. “I think that’s why they have more people buying chickens.”
Nancy Sutton, owner of Sutton Farms in Deltona, said she definitely saw an increase in her farm-raised chicken sales.
“I was selling 100 a week,” she said. “I couldn’t keep them in stock.”
Sutton said she thinks the price of eggs was the tipping point for a lot of people.
“I think people didn’t want to pay $8 to $10 for eggs, and they thought they could save money by getting chickens,” Sutton said. “But there’s a lot of money in chickens.”
Sutton Farms produces cage-free, soy-free, corn-free eggs. Even though it’s her business, Sutton believes having backyard chickens is a good idea for everyone who is inclined to have them.
Sutton said new chicken owners are often not aware of the costs. You have to build a coop that keeps your chickens warm and safe from predators.
“A coop can cost $1,000,” Sutton said. “Then you have the feed and care.”
Sutton did say the feed cost is offset by free-ranging chickens, and that while initial investments can be high, chickens are overall pretty low-maintenance, but it is important to have secure areas where chickens can sleep and run.
“Everything likes chicken,” she said. “Owls, eagles, snakes, rats, everything likes to eat chicken.”
Sutton didn’t get into chickens for the money, she said. “I just love chickens; they are fun to watch.”
She told her husband she was going to get 10 chickens. Well, those 10 chickens had more. And more.
But, she said, “As far as my husband knows, I still say I have 10 chickens.”
Sutton Farms in Deltona is open 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. seven days a week. Contact them on Facebook.
Karen One, spokesperson for Tractor Supply Company, confirmed it’s been a big year for chicks. She said the company sold 10 million chicks in 2022 and expects to sell 11 million this year.
“Since 2018, Tractor Supply’s live poultry sales and feed sales have more than doubled as more people gain an interest in raising their own flocks,” One said. “We are on track for record poultry sales this year. As of Q1, our poultry category is up.”
One said Tractor Supply works with their hatchery partners to keep a steady supply of live birds in the store, and stores have weekly shipments through the spring and summer seasons.
In DeLand, at the beginning of chick season, supplies of baby chicks were sold out in minutes.
Karen One confirmed that trend at Tractor Supply. “We’ve seen more people dive into this rewarding and fun hobby, and we love helping our customers start and care for their flocks.”
Andrea Scott said her store helps set people up with chickens as well, and she has a word of caution for future chicken people.
“People don’t realize what they’re getting into,” she said. “I think we’ll see a lot of chickens for sale this summer when people realize they can’t take a chicken on vacation, you can’t board a chicken.”
The fear of not having eggs is a good reason to get chickens, but she warns people to be patient, and to treat chicken-ownership as seriously as owning any other animal.
Scott also said people get confused when chickens don’t immediately lay eggs.
“Be patient. It takes five to six months for a chicken to lay,” she said. “They are fun animals. Just be patient and love them.”
Visit DeLand Feed and Pet Supply/Lewis Feed on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LewisFeedGarden
Visit Tractor Supply Company at tractorsupply.com.
Visit Sutton Farms Facebook page