By Connor Lynch
SHELBURNE — Sharpe Farm Supplies normally has laying hens available to buy until September. Not this year. By mid-June, ready-to-lay hens were completely sold out at the Shelburne store, said employee Nicole Teeter. That’s because their hatchery, Frey’s Hatchery, is completely sold out.
Said Teeter: “We got word from Fray’s that this is their busiest year (ever). They’ve never had this type of demand before.” Most customers were ordering around 10 laying hens at a time, but Teeter said some have ordered as many as 100 at a time.
Customers have been coming from as far as Brampton looking for chickens, and customers were still asking the store in late June if they had any leads on people getting rid of chickens, she said. They’ve been able to give customers a few leads, including to one guy who rents out laying hens.
At Oxford Farm Supply at Ingersoll, it was a similar story. The store manager said locals were turning out to buy backyard chickens increasing sales by 30 per cent over last year. Local grocery stores had some egg supply issues where they didn’t have some products at all for a time. “That became sort of a, ‘well now what,’” in people’s minds. He added that with restaurants closed, many people might’ve been cooking at home more than they’re used to, and eggs are a versatile and easy-to-cook food.
Keeping backyard chickens is a bylaw issue in some areas. Chatham-Kent doesn’t allow backyard chickens but in late June was mulling a change to that. Up in Eastern Ontario, there was also plenty of demand for backyard hens, even in Ottawa where bylaws don’t allow it.