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Locals turning to a hobby most fowl for food

Posted at 8:13 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 10:06:46-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Grocery shortages and stay-at-home orders have people going back to more traditional methods of getting food.

Some are trying their hand at gardening for the first time, and now, many people are interested in raising backyard chickens for eggs.

Joe Hilliard is on the board of Grow Local South Texas. His family has had their own chickens for several years now.

"In this time that we're in right now, food security is a big thing," he said. "When you go to the grocery store and you don’t see meat, it might be there a couple days later, or you don’t see eggs, you can get fearful because those are things that your family requires.“

Hilliard recently did an informational video on backyard chickens for those considering the poultry pet.

"That video has gone pretty wide because this same thing: People going and rushing into owning chickens for the first time is happening all over the country," Hilliard said.

Local breeders said they are seeing a high demand for chicks in the Coastal Bend. Robin Smith owns R&L Smith Farms Texas LLC near Sinton.

“Last week I sold my whole Spring flock in five days. That's 200," she said. "The interest in chicks is because people are scared there's no food. They want to buy everything. The eggs, the chicks, the chickens."

A healthy chicken will lay an egg a day, but owning chickens takes work.

“It's not an easy thing to do," Hilliard said. "If you get baby chickens today, you won’t have eggs for six months. So this is a long-haul project, this is a lifestyle project. When you get them home, there are certain things you need. Baby chicks are very delicate."

They need a brooder box and a heat source to keep their temperature regulated. They have to be six weeks old before they can go outside.

"And when you do that, you need to have a working coop, a place for them to sleep, a place for them to lay eggs, food, water," he said. "All the things you'd need for a dog, but about 10 times the work involved in getting a brand new puppy."

Hilliard said they have zero food waste in their home because they feed their chickens the scraps. The chickens also assist them in their compost system and garden efforts.

There are guidelines in place by the city. The ordinance in Corpus Christi only allows people to own as many as seven hens. Roosters are not allowed.

“The intent of the city ordinance is to raise food for you and your family," he said. "The current ordinance is, you can’t share your eggs, you can’t sell your eggs.“

The chicken coop or run structure has to be 25 feet away from any homes or businesses.

"I'm glad folks are considering getting closer to the basics," HIlliard said. "When this is all over and done with, what we’re dealing with right now, I believe that for many types of people it is rewarding. Fun, great pets that poop food. You can’t beat it."