The unlikely pet of the pandemic: chickens

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It was then that Gillian Frank and his wife, Kathryn Jones, both 41, discussed buying pet chickens. “Wouldn’t that be some kind of fun hobby?” And that would ensure that we had eggs – if we had chickens, ”Frank told CNN.

Frank, who is a historian at the University of Virginia, and his wife, who is a lawyer, both grew up in the suburbs of Toronto. Owning chickens had never been one of their aspirations until now. Plus, 8-year-old Charlotte loved the idea.

In April, they added six chickens to the backyard of their Richmond, Virginia home. They already had two dogs and two cats, but Frank said chickens actually require a lot less maintenance than other animals.

The chickens were named by Charlotte after women’s right activists, Supreme Court justices and her favorite singers: Susan Egg Anthony, Eggena Keggan, Sonia Eggomayor, Ruth Bader Eggsburg, Egger Swift (after Taylor Swift) and Katy Eggry (after Katy Perry).

“They are hilarious,” he says. “They’re funny little creatures who like to wander the yard when they’re not in their hen house and run around and they get into all the weeds. They come in flowers and everything too, but I look at the positives. “Backyard chicken coop sales have exploded since the start of the pandemic, said Traci Torres, CEO of My Pet Chicken.

In March, sales increased 325%. In April, 525%.

“It started going down because we didn’t have anything to sell anymore,” Torres told CNN. “We just didn’t have time to speed up product production. ”

Even so, July sales are up 250% since the items were restocked.

Torres said she started the business because in 2004, when she was looking to keep chickens for herself, there was no way for customers to hold the process of buying and raising chickens in their hands. chickens.

“We have the co-ops, we have the supplies, we also have free information and little guides on the website to give you the basics,” she said.

Customer service agents, who all also own chickens, answer questions about how many chickens to get, what to know about barns and supplies to order – and even sell the chicks, which cost around $ 5.

“As a seasonal business, we are already busier in spring and summer than in winter,” she says. “This year however, customer service agents were losing their voice and getting carpal tunnel. ”

They found that their clients had always wanted to have chickens and thought now was the perfect time since they were working from home, or because Frank had worried about how they would feed their families.

“We’re now allowing people to reserve their co-op orders in advance,” Torres said. “We have hundreds of orders waiting to be shipped once the product arrives. ”

Torres said she is thrilled that more and more people are growing in their backyards, controlling where their food comes from, and just enjoying the outdoors.

Chickens lay about half a dozen eggs each day.

Frank’s chickens started laying eggs about a month ago. They produce about half a dozen eggs per day.

“It has made us popular with the neighbors because we have more eggs than we can handle,” he said. “So everyone in our neighborhood that we are friends with gets farm-fresh eggs. ”

The extra eggs boosted more coronavirus-related hobbies: cooking and baking. His wife Kathryn makes home-made éclairs, breads, pies and soufflés, and just gets creative in the kitchen.

“I’m dreading whether this will affect our cholesterol,” he says.

Frank said it was fun to have the eggs and cheap to keep the chickens, so they will keep a new hobby after the pandemic is over.

The hardest part, Frank said, is getting them back into the co-op – thanks to troublemaker Susan Egg Anthony, who is still fighting.

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