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Friday, January 27, 2023

Bird flu, inflation working against South Carolina chicken seller

CLOVER, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — It’s an expensive combination.

The bird flu and inflation are coming together to drive up the cost of egg prices all over the country. This combination has caused a surge in home chickens; now, industry folks said the chickens are in short supply.

It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of stop. But Jana Brown and her girls draw people from all over.

“I’ve got chicken customers coming from Virginia-Georgia,” Brown listed.

What’s drawing everyone from the surrounding states — her chickens.

“It kind of turned into a family thing,” said Jana, who runs Backyard Chickens at Margaret’s Roost.

Brown has hit a niche market for chickens for the last ten years. She buys chicks a day old from hatcheries, then raises them for a few weeks. Once they are older, she sells them to people wanting backyard chickens. She said she always sells out and sells hundreds each season.

“It’s kind of sad how everybody just kind of (said), ‘Wow — let’s get chickens right now!’” Brown said.

But now, even she can’t get the chicks. Due to the bird flu, there’s such a demand and shortage, and many hatcheries sell out months in advance.

“Our spring sale dates are out the door,” said Jana.

She had to cancel her spring sale, effectively cutting her business in half for the year. But that’s not all.

“I personally have seen it go up and up and up,” said Jana.

The chicks used to be a couple of dollars, but now they’ve quadrupled in price. The food has gone up as well.

“It’s almost impossible to be self-sufficient this day because everything is stopping the self-sufficiency of people,” she said.

Brown has about 30 of her own hens, but raising her own chicks wouldn’t make sense. Most end up being roosters, which aren’t the birds people want.

“You’re not going to get eggs with them,” said Jana.

The chicken dealer said she hopes she’ll be able to get chicks in for the fall, but right now, it’s too soon to tell.

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