This weekend, I read about the plight of urban chicken farmer Mable Biccum of Henderson, Kentucky.
The quick and dirty retell: Biccum set up a coop in her backyard where she's raising 25 chickens for eggs as a way to supplement her fixed income and give the extra eggs to a social services group. Unfortunately, chickens aren't allowed on properties of fewer than 5 acres in Henderson, so Biccum's chickens have to go. She's vowed to appeal to the Board of Zoning Adjustment at their June 10 meeting.
What's caught my eye about this particular story is that Biccum got her 25 birds because that's the smallest quantity the local feed-n-fuel would allow her to buy: "Rural King will not sell you less than 25."
I suspect that's the smallest quantity because the big hatcheries (McMurray, et al) won't sell chicks in quantities fewer than 25 and it's likely Rural King simply ordered the chicks on behalf of Biccum.
Back when I got started raising urban chickens, while I wanted to pick out a specific breed from a hatchery, there was no way I could order the minimum quantity of 25. And back then, I didn't know enough other folks to go in on an order with me to make up the minimum of 25.
Thankfully, we've got folks like My Pet Chicken (MPC) who've stepped in filled the gap by allowing you to order as few as three chicks at a time. They're bridging the gap between the agri-business scale of chick production and the urban chicken farmer scale of consumption.
I recently learned that the fastest selling lines of chicken feed are the small bags of organic feed favored by urban chicken farmers (I don't have the citation at my fingertips, but I'll keep looking). I wonder how long before the big hatcheries start scaling down their own minimum orders? Or will it be the likes of MPC who will simply grow to fill the gap?
Where did you get your chickens from? The local Feed-n-Fuel? By mail?