Blaire and Brooke Bestwina, owners of The Feed Store, sell thousands of birds each year. --Supplied photo

Blaire and Brooke Bestwina, owners of The Feed Store, sell thousands of birds each year. --Supplied photo

Egg prices drive chicken interest

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Some becoming backyard farmers 

By Kelly White

Complaints about the price of eggs have been so common in recent months, some folks who have never considered backyard farming are now thinking of buying a hen or two.

To help educate people about the matter, The Feed Store, 5408 S. Harlem, is also hosting “Intro to Backyard Chicken Keeping, Urban Style” at noon and 4 p.m. Thursday, April 27.

For details, call The Feed Store at (708) 458-1327 or the Cook County Farm Bureau at (708) 354-3276.

“We have definitely seen an increase in backyard chicken keeping in the past few years,” said Brooke Bestwina, a third-generation co-owner of The Feed Store. “This year especially, the increase in egg prices has turned a lot of people to do research on keeping their own.”

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Blaire and Brooke Bestwina, owners of The Feed Store, sell thousands of birds each year. –Supplied photo

The Feed Store carries food for a variety of animals, plus cages, bedding, feeders, medication, pine shavings, mealworms and more.

“While it is a great learning experience, and a lot of fun, research is the key,” Bestwina said. “Knowing whether or not you can have them where you live, would be where to start. Every village or township has their own rules. The cost is another factor to think about. Chickens need a home, called a coop, obviously need to be fed, and taken care of, and all these things cost money. The eggs you will get, will probably not supplement your grocery bill, as much as you think they would.”

Bestwina added that chickens also do not lay eggs until about six months of age, and during that time, they still need to be fed and cared for.

“Some of the benefits of raising chickens, are of course eggs, but it takes a lot of time, patients, and research to raise chickens happily and successfully,” Bestwina said. “We like to say that watching them is better than television sometimes. Chickens have wonderful personalities, and can be silly, and super interesting.”

The Feed Store sells thousands of birds per year. Not just multiple varieties of chickens, also turkeys, pheasants, ducks, guineas, quail, not to mention parakeets, canaries, finches, pigeons and more.

“In 2022 we saw more than a 100% increase in sales of birds in general,” Bestwina said. “This year we did not expect to sell as many, as fast as they have been selling. They are very much in demand. We sold 400 baby chicks within five days last week. That is unexpected to say the least. We have orders for chicks all the way through July.”

However, Bestwina said raising chickens for supplemental eggs is a lot more expensive than just buying them at the store, but it is all about the experience and journey of raising them.

Agreeing if Jennifer Murtoff, founder of Home to Roost LLC: Helping City Folks Raise Chickens.

“More people are considering getting hens to counter the rise in egg prices,” Murtoff said. “It’s important for people to realize that a hens productivity maxes out at around age 2 to 3, but they can live as long as 9 or 10 years.”

Murtoff agreed that there are a number of factors to also consider into the cost of raising chickens.

“Chickens are a 24 hours a day, seven-day commitment and this means that people can’t just leave them with three days’ worth of food and water and go out of town,” she said. “These are all things that I try to educate folks on in my classes. I provide people with a solid basis for where to start and gives them information to address common problems.”

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