PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – If you’ve been to the grocery store (or on the internet) lately, you’ve probably noticed the high price of eggs. 

Tiktokers have been bemoaning the steep prices of a dozen eggs, and understandably so. In parts of the U.S., the average price for a dozen eggs has topped $5. 

Videos using the hashtags #eggmafia and #eggdealer have been popular on TikTok and Instagram and often show people in sunglasses counting and weighing their eggs, and stacking their cash as though they’re dealing some sort of illicit substance. 

The social media platforms have also served as places to brag for those lucky enough to own their own flock. Those people might just be inspiring others to do the same. 

Wilco, a Mount-Angel based co-op of farm and ranch stores, received its first shipment of chicks the morning of Thursday, January 26 and by the afternoon the next day, they were sold out. 

Trent Ricksger, a senior product merchant with Wilco, thinks the demand is a result of two things: egg prices and the possibility of a recession. 

“I obviously don’t know this for a fact, but it seems to have some alignment with people who may be not sure what the economy is going to be like with disposable income,” he said. “We’re expecting the chick business to boom.” 

People’s passion in poultry really started to take off early on in the pandemic, Ricksger said. It was another period of uncertainty where many chose to focus on home improvements and having what they need close by. 

He’s seeing a similar trend again in 2023. Already, customers are reaching out to Wilco on social media asking when they’ll have chicks in. 

This week, weather in the southern United States delayed Wilco’s chick shipment, but Ricksger expects that the stores will have them delivered every day through September, possibly even early October. 

“There is no waitlist, but we do have visibility on our website and then in our stores about when chicks will arrive and what breeds are coming in,” he said. 

It’s important to know that chicks don’t start laying eggs immediately. In fact, some of the chicks are only a day old when they arrive at the store. Chickens will start laying once they’re about 6 months old. 

So, for anyone hoping chicks will be an immediate solution to paying high prices for eggs – think again. You might want to consider adopting adult hens, and those aren’t typically sold and farm and ranch stores. 

Ricksger said the best way to adopt an adult flock is to search online on websites like Craigslist, or ask staff at farm and ranch stores. Often, they’re very connected to the farming community and might know someone looking to rehome their chickens. 

Anyone preparing to bring home chicks or grown chickens should be prepared for the initial setup cost. Ricksger said it will cost about $200-$300 for the supplies required to keep chickens warm, sheltered and fed. 

Owners will need a brooder, bedding, heat lamp, feeder, food and a water dispenser. Keeping chickens warm and protected from the wind is very important, so they’ll need some sort of shelter. 

Another thing to do before adopting chicks is to check the county or city ordinances where you live to see if there are any restrictions on the number of chickens you can own or whether you are allowed to own a rooster. 

Eggs have been expensive throughout the last year due to the highly pathogenic avian influenza that’s impacted flocks and farms across the country, along with supply chain issues and high feed costs. 

Rodney Holcomb, an agricultural economics professor at Oklahoma State University, said bird flu alone killed about 1 in 10 laying hens in 2022. 

Ricksger said so far, the bird flu has not impacted the price or availability of chicks in 2023. 

“The hatcheries are monitored really heavily, federally, and so a lot of testing, a lot of quarantining if needed. So, knock on wood – we have not been affected directly by the influenza with our chicks and our supply,” he said. 

For anyone interested in larger eggs, Ricksger said there’s been a growing interest in people raising ducks. He’s heard duck eggs are especially good for baking. 

Ricksger predicts raising poultry will remain a hot topic for a while. He said raising them “isn’t rocket science,” but people should know they’re not cuddly pets. They need room to roam outside and proper care to ensure they lay eggs as they should.