Pickin’ Up Chicks? Good Luck

The Sopris Sun
Volume 1, Number 15. May 21, 2009

Pickin’ Up Chicks? Good Luck!

Holly picked up the phone and

called her husband. “So, did

you pick up any chicks?”
I crack up. She wasn’t talking
about women.
“It’s hard to get chicks this year,”
Summer Cole clucked as she strolled
into the office at Sustainable Settings.
And that’s no joke.
The chicken jokes have already
begun among the growing number of
folks who have recently added chickens
to their family flocks here in Carbondale.
You could say that the
number of locals using fowl language
is on the rise.
The demand for chickens, the closest
relative to Tyrannosaurus Rex,
has accelerated in Carbondale and
way beyond. Steve Hyrup, owner of
Hyrup Feed and Ranch Supply in El
Jebel, confirmed that there has been
a marked increase in demand for
chickens here and elsewhere.
In mid-March, his sister-in-law in
Prescott, Ariz., went to the local feed
store to get a dozen chicks. “They
opened at 8 a.m. and she got there at
7:30 a.m. and there were already 40
people at the door.”
Cluck cluck she was out of luck.
All 150 chicks had been sold before
his sister got to the front of the line.
She went back on April 15, at the
bright and early hour of 5:30 a.m.
and got her chicks. But with 50 or 60
people behind her when the store
opened, it’s not likely everyone got
what they were looking for.
Demand for chickens has skyrocketed
around the world. According to
one Web site on food and the environment:
“Urban hen keeping has become
increasingly popular in recent years,
but breeders and suppliers are reporting
an ‘astonishing’ rise in the number
of UK households buying hens in the
last 12 months or so, fuelled in part,
they believe, by the economic downturn
and growing pressure on family
Hyrup said he never used to have
a problem getting chickens. He could
always get them from the hatcheries
when customers wanted them. “This
January, the demand increased when
the economy started crashin’ and a
lot of people were losing their jobs,”
he said.
Hyrup gets at least two orders for
chickens each week, but has to tell
people that the wait list runs until the
end of June. “Everybody wants five or
six chick hens to put in their yards to
get five or six eggs to go with their
gardens,” he added. “A lot of people
are doing gardens this year.” Brook Le Van of Sustainable Settings
echoed Hyrup. “There’s a movement and
I saw it coming,” he said. “We’re seeing
more home gardens, more small-scale
suburban gardens and they want chicks.”
Le Van said the demand for chickens
was apparent when he spoke to hatcheries
in December and was told the March
hatches were already sold out. “That’s
months ahead of when it usually is.”
Le Van said the minimum order from
the hatcheries is 25 chicks and most families
just want two or three, so he ordered
two orders of 150 chicks to help them
As far as seed goes, he called the seed
company in October to test the waters,
see how seed sales were going and they
told him that they’re up. When he called
back in December the seed company said
“Holy —— we’ve been hit!”
Le Van consequently sent out an email
telling everybody to “order now” if they
want to have a choice. It’s the small
packet that the home grower uses, and according
to Le Van, “We sell a lot of pea
[seed].” (Vegetable jokes allowed.)
“The economy’s driving people to do
this,” Le Van said. “What we’re trying to
do at Sustainable Settings is teach people
to re-skill, to understand how to work
with livestock and work with food. If we
want to build resilience we need to build
a strong local agricultural infrastructure.”
Hyrup also believes the demand for
chicks has increased because people want
to get back to the land. “I think people
want to get back to their roots and live
like their grandparents did. They want to
expose their kids.”
“Two 25-year-old ladies, they’re young
moms, came in to get their chicks on separate
days, and said the same thing: They
want to get back to the way it used to be
when things were simpler,” Hyrup explained.
“These families are building their own
chicken coops and looked up on the Internet
to learn how to build their own
chicken houses.” When Hyrup asked each
woman why she wanted to do it herself,
they each said the same thing: “I want my
chickens to have the best.”
Another young mom, Michelle Lloyd,
happened to come pick up her chicks during
this interview at Hyrups. “I always
wanted to have chicks and we have a
small family farm,” she said.
The Lloyd family has two kids and 10
chickens. She brought her two boys and
their friend with her and they immediately
picked out their favorites and named the
new chicks Truman, Jessie and Bob.
Chicken and vegetable garden co-ops
also seem to be on the upswing. “Easter
morning is the height of the laying season
and ends when the light starts waning,”
according to John Hoffmann’s theory.
The Carbondale trustee and his wife,
Kim, raise chickens in Carbondale. They
are the keepers of the coop and head honchos
of a chicken co-op, comprised of five
“Ken Riley used to live here and he
wanted chickens in the neighborhood in
the early ’80s or late ’70s, Hoffmann
said. Right now the co-op has 23 or 24
“Ken did it ’cause he thought it would
be cool,” he added. “They’re the best
show in the neighborhood. Moms and
kids love our chickens, everybody loves
the chickens.”
“I used to be able to specify what I
wanted [chickenwise], but this year I had
to take what they had. I wasn’t able to get
any Ameraucanas,” Kim said.
John added that different breeds lay
different colored eggs. “Different breeds
have different personalities,” he said.
“Chicks have their best friends and their
enemies.” (Ummm… chick cliques?)
Bridget Strang of Missouri Heights is
on the fence about having chickens.
Question: “Have you thought about
getting chickens?”
“Yes,” Bridget replied.
“Yes,” she said.
“Are you going to get them?”
“ No.”
“They can go anywhere they want to
but I don’t want them to —— in the
barn,” she said.
Chicken Nuggets
No rotten eggs: If you put an egg in
a bowl of water and it sinks, it’s fresh.
If it floats, it’s not.
Getting laid: A hen has to be 6 months
old before she can lay an egg and
after three years, she can no longer
pop them out.
Light for life: Hens need light in
order to lay eggs. They won’t lay until
they have 17 hours a day of daylight
or artificial light. Temperature is also a
An egg a day: Hens will lay one egg
a day at the height of the season and
begin in March or April.
Sex isn’t necessary: Hens don’t
need to breed to a rooster to lay eggs,
unless you want fertile eggs.
Sittin’ pretty: Not all hens will sit on
eggs. Only 10 percent of hens that
weren’t raised in an incubator will sit
on eggs.
Colored eggs: Different breeds of
chickens lay different colored eggs.
• • •
Small livestock rule for the Town
of Carbondale: Fowl-Number limitation.
No chickens, turkeys, geese or
other domestic fowl shall be kept in excess
of six of all such fowl combined by
any one household within the town limits.
(Ord. 8-1972 § 1E: Ord. 1-1948 § 2).
Special thanks to Bill Teague and
Mario Gustavo for sharing their

chicken expertise