SAN ANTONIO – It’s not unusual to see an uptick in live baby chick sales during Spring and the Easter seasons. But the spike in purchases that has taken place over the past two weeks for national and San Antonio-area feed stores is unprecedented.
The anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a surge live chick sales. At the moment, live baby chicks seem to be nearly impossible to find in the community and area stores say they’re selling them faster than they can find them.
The latest report on egg sales from the U.S. Agriculture Department showed prices of eggs have skyrocketed.
The price of eggs at stores has caused consumers to look at other options even though baby chicks will not lay eggs for six months, which by then, medical experts hope the pandemic is over.
KSAT reached out to five area feed and supply stores to inquire about the live chick buying craze.
Tim Luna, general manager at Locke Hill Feed, Pet, & Lawn Supply on the North Side, told KSAT they are selling out of live chicks as fast as they get a new shipment.
Luna said they received about 150 chicks last week and sold out the same day.
The store is expected to get a new shipment this week, but Luna said he has pre-booked orders through April.
Luna said every other call from a customer is about live chicks.
The same goes for Alamo Feed & Pet Supply.
Alex Tobar tells KSAT they are expected to get between 100 and 200 live chicks Friday, but they are “selling out like crazy.”
Chuck Wallen, the manager of the Jupe Mills Supply Store in Bracken, said hatcheries are backlogged and orders are coming in lower than expected.
Wallen said they have consistently received about 200 chicks, but they are “gone within two hours.”
Wallen said the store’s busiest day in the past decade was March 24, a day after tighter restrictions were placed on non-essential businesses in Bexar County and citizens were asked to remain home except for essential travel.
The live chick boom is affecting smaller feed stores and hatcheries as well. RFARM on the South Side hatches about 100 chicks a week and has been forced to make appointments on Sundays for potential buyers.
Debbie, an employee at RFARM, said her customers are buying about 4-5 chicks and feels this has been an opportunity for people who have always been interested in raising chicks to do so.
Moore’s Feed & Seed Store, south of downtown, has been a staple of the area since 1947.
Devin Huerta said they sold 150 chicks this week, within about a day and a half.
Huerta added it’s not just live chicks. Customers are buying ducks, pheasants or any type of game or egg-laying bird.
”People are overdoing it with the chickens,” said Huerta.
To a person, everyone KSAT spoke to said they have been clear with customers that even if they buy chicks now, they will not lay eggs for up to half a year. That has not stopped customers from flooding local feed and supply stores.
“I’ve told them you will probably see eggs on grocery store shelves regularly before you see any from these chicks,” Wallen said.
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