By Elise Franco
A room full of chirping chicks is no big thing for one Canfield business.
Agland Co-op on Lisbon Street opened its doors Thursday for its Chick Days program that provides resources to locals on how to properly raise poultry.
Shelly Phipps, Agland employee, said customers streamed in throughout the day to retrieve their live baby chickens. She said the store filled orders that totaled about 1,500 baby birds, mostly chickens, but some ducks and turkeys as well.
“The chicks were ordered in February and March, and they arrived today,” she said. “We get [egg] layers and Cornish Rock [hens] that are used for meat after six to eight weeks.”
Phipps said most of the chickens, which arrived in cartons via the U.S. Postal Service, were purchased for 4-H projects or by local farmers.
Hundreds of chicks chirped away in their cartons as customers hand-picked the ones they would take home.
Melinda Siembieda of Leetonia stopped by to pick up six layers for her daughter Brittany’s 4-H project.
“My daughter is 12, and she shows them at the Canfield Fair,” she said. “This is her second year raising chickens, and she loves it.”
Siembieda said the family was used to raising rabbits, so adjusting to the chickens took some time.
“It’s very different, so Brittany had to learn to do all of that,” she said. “But we like having them because we get the fresh eggs.”
Phipps said in recent years, more and more chicks are purchased by nonfarmers who want to raise chickens in their own backyards and get the fresh eggs.
“With concerns about the medications in eggs and meat, a lot of people are raising their own chickens,” she said. “You know exactly what you’re going to get, and it’s easy to do.”
Phipps said a good number of layers for “backyard enthusiasts” is about six, which will produce about one egg per hen, per day.
“The number of people doing this has gone up, especially in the past three years or so,” she said. “We’ve definitely had an increase in the number of orders.”
Christy Obrine of Berlin Center said her family used to raise chickens on a farm many years ago and recently decided to do it again. Obrine bought three layers to help raise with her elderly father.
“We’ve been raising them in our backyard for about three months,” she said. “My father needed a hobby, and it’s going well.”
Phipps said this year the layers were in such high demand from nonfarmers across Ohio that Agland had a hard time filling its entire order.
She said the chickens come from Ridgeway Hatchery in La Rue, Ohio, and Mount Healthy Hatchery in Cincinnati.