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Hatcheries are seeing a huge increase in demand for hens that lay eggs



Indianapolis, Indiana – Egg prices are expected to begin their long-awaited decline in the not-too-distant future, according to analysts at Purdue University; but, the industry is currently dealing with another obstacle.

I-Team 8 discovered that the sector is experiencing difficulty due to the high demand for egg-laying hens.

Darrin Karcher, a Purdue University professor who studies poultry, said, “There continues to be a strain from the standpoint of trying to produce enough chicks to repopulate what we have lost for laying hens over the last year.”

According to Karcher, the strain on hatcheries is being caused by businesses that have been severely impacted by the avian flu outbreak. He mentioned to I-Team 8 that bird producers in the state of Indiana are six months behind schedule.

“It’s not the fact that we can’t hatch them, it’s just getting into that queue so you can make sure you actually get some baby chicks to put down on the ground and start the process again.”

On 54th Street, east of College Avenue, you’ll find the Agarian Homestead Supply and General Store. It’s a bird supplier in Indianapolis as well as an animal feed store. The pressures that are being placed on the hatchery business are also being felt by its operators. “The primary backyard egg layers are sold out at the hatcheries we source from through May-June,” store manager Megan Sharp said.

She explained the tension to I-Team 8 as being the result of an increase in the number of people who want to start rearing egg-laying hens in their backyards. “We’ve had a number of customers mention the cost of eggs.”

With the startup and maintenance costs, though, Sharp said, “I don’t know that you’re ultimately going to save money on the price of eggs, but there are a lot of other reasons why people want to raise their own birds.”

I-Team 8 was told by researchers at Purdue that hatcheries had not seen this strain of bird flu since the last outbreak of the virus in the United States, which occurred in 2015. Because there are still many birds in the United States that are capable of laying eggs, the most recent problems will not have a significant impact on the price of eggs that are sold in stores. Karcher said, “We still have around 300 million birds, which means we can produce an egg for every person in the U.S. daily.”


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