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Chicks for sale, but are they right for you?

Jennifer Sprouse • Apr 7, 2012 at 8:17 AM

With a new city chicken plan about to be hatched and the Easter holiday just a day away, now could be the perfect time to stop by your local feed store to buy some chicks.

One of the places selling chicks is Farm Supply in Elizabethton.

Predicting to sell around 750 chicks this spring, Aarron Jack, owner of Farm Supply, said it’s not just the Easter season that inspires customers to buy the animals.

“Right now they’re kind of getting to be the cool thing, where a lot of younger people are getting into raising chickens,” Jack said.

Anna Lunsford and her husband, Andrew, were among some of the chick-buying customers at Farm Supply on Friday, walking away with six Rhode Island Red chicks.

Lunsford said she decided on those particular chicks after seeing the eggs her mother-in-law gets and knowing some friends of hers who have the same breed of chicken.

The Watauga resident said she’s excited to raise the chicks and to have her own supply of eggs.

“We live out in the country, so we have the perfect spot for it,” Lunsford said.

Jack said the chickens are hatched at a farm in Texas and then shipped to the store. Receiving a new variety every week, the store currently has Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rock and Rhode Island Reds available for $2.50 each.

A favorite breed of chicks are the Araucanas that lay colored eggs, Jack said. The Araucanas are not available for purchase this week, but she said they are on their way.

The chicks they sell are 95 percent guaranteed to be females, so customers are most likely not purchasing a rooster instead of a chicken.

When fully grown, most hens will lay an egg a day in season, she said.

Keeping the chicks as pets or for practical use, customers need chicken starter and grower feed, a coop and a warming lamp that can be set at 115 degrees.

“Until they get their adult feathers in, you do need to keep a light on them,” Jack said.

After keeping the chicks under the lamp for four to six weeks, the temperature can slowly be decreased by about three degrees. As for maintenance, she said chicks do a good job of keeping themselves clean and that most coops come with a drop pan that allows for easy coop clean up.

While most of Farm Supply’s customers buy chickens for farm-raised eggs, Jack said chicks are sold to be given as pets.

“Chickens can be very friendly,” Jack said. “If you raise them and handle them, they can be pets.”

Jack said that giving chicks as pets to children is OK as long as they are old enough to handle them, because the animal’s body is extremely fragile.

She said the season for selling the chicks is about six to eight weeks in the springtime.

“There’s a lot of people that will come in that will buy two, especially right now, the week of Easter,” she said. “We have a lot of people that will come in and buy two of them because their kids want them and it’s kind of a fun thing.”

While selling chicks has become a staple in most feed stores, Jack said she hopes to see more customers wanting to buy chicks.

“We kind of hope that next year we see a bigger resurgence, especially with a lot of places allowing them in the city limits,” she said.

Johnson City residents are currently waiting for a new ordinance that would allow chickens to be kept within city limits, but the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission must make amendments to the zoning ordinance first before people living within the city can start keeping chickens.

Jack said the city of Elizabethton does not allow chickens to be kept within city limits, but a lot of her customers do ask if it’s allowed.

“They’re very easy-to-keep animals,” she said. “There’s no disturbance to anybody else if you keep a reasonable amount and keep them like you should.”

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