Unity Gardens offering resources for beginning chicken farmers

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 5:48 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Rising egg prices apparently have some thinking about raising their own chickens.

It’s perhaps easy to see what’s likely in store for in-store egg prices in the foreseeable future.

“With the bird flu, you know, there’s places that have killed millions of chickens,” said Unity Gardens Operations Director Mitch Yaciw. “So then, it’s we’re looking at 20 weeks, I think, before a chicken is ready to lay eggs again. So then, they have to hope that they have a supplier that can get them new chicks, and then 20 weeks later.”

Unity Gardens has a flock of about 50 chickens. The eggs are sold at the South Bend Farmer’s Market. Last year, Unity Gardens raised the price of its product for the first time, from $4 per dozen to $5.

“You know, we’re kind of lucky in South Bend, and I know where a lot of people are complaining about $5 a dozen. They’re over $12 a dozen in Chicago, so a lot of the farmers that we even know have went to, will go to Indianapolis or Chicago to sell because they can make more,” Yaciw said.

As for the backyard chicken basics, chicks are relatively inexpensive at $2 to $3 apiece, but a chicken coup starts at about $300. Chicken feed typically runs $15 to $20 a bag.

The number of eggs a hen lays varies with the amount of sunlight it receives.

While some commercial operations add artificial light to pump up production, that’s not the case for Unity Gardens.

“It’s certainly something fun, you know. If you’re enjoying it, and it brings you value that way, or you want to teach your family more about what it is to care for an animal and grow your own food whether chickens or garden. We have some resources for you. Look us up on our website. Ask those questions,” said Unity Gardens Executive Director Sara Stewart.

Unity Gardens will hold a backyard chicken class on March 11th as part of the Growing Summit at the main branch of the St. Joseph County Library.