San Antonios have become chickenistas! Lots of folks are hoping to avoid egg shortages by raising their own chickens.
“When we get them in, it’s been a mad dash for the chickens,” said Cathy Sullivan, who works at Strutty’s Feed and Pet Supply store in Spring Branch. “We’ve had shipments of 300 to 350 per week, and everything is getting sold.”
Turns out San Antonio was ahead of the curve in urban survivalist planning:
The new zeal for backyard flocks comes at a good time here. San Antonio raised the limit of birds per household in the city limits from three to eight in 2017. While residents are limited to only one rooster because of their loud cackling noise at the break of dawn, the fowl can be mixed and matched between chickens, ducks, quail and other breeds.
“We knew it was important, but yeah, these times do vindicate the initiative,” said Mitch Hagney, president of the Food Policy Council of San Antonio, which helped drive the change. “These are times where people want more control of their food supply, and you can do that in your backyard through chickens and by growing vegetable gardens.”
Not so fast, birdbrains.
But those counting on backyard-fresh eggs to get them through a coronavirus shortage should check their math.
It will be five or six months before newborn chicks produce their first eggs. After that, each bird that comes of age will lay between 200 to 250 eggs per year, but that number will slowly decline throughout the years. Hens will hit “henopause” and stop producing eggs at some point, and the average lifespan for a backyard bird is about six years.
Spend a little more, save some time, and avoid chick mortality.
San Antonio private chef Elena D’Agostino recently purchased a home on the North Side that already had a backyard chicken coop setup installed. An Italian native who specializes in pasta making, which often requires eggs, she joined the SABYC and decided a little more than a week ago to have her own flock.
However, she decided to skip the nursery stages and acquired three hens that are already producing eggs for her. And like so many other backyard chicken ranchers, she’s already given them names: Gina, Grace and a bird to be named later.
Quintanilla said that first-timers should consider going down the same road as D’Agostino. She sells birds at Cluckingham that are of egg-laying age for around $20 each. Birds are also regularly sold and traded throughout the area backyard chicken community.
During our morning walks, my wife keeps saying she hears a rooster. Now I know why.