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Backyard chicken coops on the rise amid surging egg prices

Some people want to own their own chickens for "free" eggs due to a nationwide surge in egg prices.

SAN DIEGO — Many local animal and feed stores have been getting calls from people curious about owning chickens so they can have "free" eggs. 

"Originally, we got them because of COVID. It was something to do while working from home," said Emily Wady, who had three chickens and a duck for about two and a half years.

There's a peaked interest in backyard chickens because of the nationwide egg shortage resulting in high prices and some empty store shelves. 

Meanwhile, Wady said, "...Sometimes we have an abundance, and at every event, we go to (I would bring) deviled eggs and egg salad because we have a lot."

Her chickens regularly leave her with a basket of delicious eggs: "my bird eggs were so much larger and so much brighter than even the (store-bought) eggs that were cage-free."

Wady's chickens live a luxurious life.

"When it's hot, I plug in the hose and have a mist all day to keep them cool. Their favorite foods are watermelon and cucumber; if I bring them out, they go ballistic," Wady explained. They even have a heat lamp during the winter.  

Chickens require patience, and like any committed relationship, it takes some time to get to know each other, "I think what surprised me the most was their personalities," Wady continued.

Wady checks her birds daily, and provides food, water, and plenty of space. 

"Having chickens can be a real delight, but it also comes with a lot of work," said Samantha Passovoy, the Discovery Center Manager for the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation in Carlsbad. 

Passovoy pointed out that having chicken doesn't mean a lifetime of free eggs daily. "They don't start laying eggs until they're about six months old, and they only lay eggs for about 3-4 years." They often live 6-10 years, and "their (egg) production slows down in the wintertime and picks up in the summertime," shared Passovoy.

They serve as an educational tool at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, and the kids love visiting them and even feeding them mealworms in their coup.

They have an outdoor space where people can interact with them, and they'll take refuge in their coup to lie eggs or sleep. They have a luxurious room complete with a solar panel, protection from predators, and a newly installed heater. 

While all of this may sound pricey to establish, at least after putting in the work, people are saving money on their eggs. 

Before you commit to your backyard chickens, you can always volunteer at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, where volunteers check on the chickens every morning and afternoon. 

People can gather inside the coup on Wednesdays to "chat about the chickens."

To read more about the City of San Diego's backyard chicken rules, click here.

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