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Local hatchery overwhelmed as people look to raise own chickens as egg prices soar

Local hatchery overwhelmed as people look to raise own chickens as egg prices soar (WKRC)
Local hatchery overwhelmed as people look to raise own chickens as egg prices soar (WKRC)
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MOUNT HEALTHY, Ohio (WKRC) - The high cost of eggs is driving people straight to the source.

More people are considering raising their own chickens and some are turning to a Mt. Healthy Hatcheries to do that.

Rob O’Hara is the president of the family-owned business started by his grandfather in 1924.

It is one of only a handful of hatcheries of its size in the country and the only chicken hatchery locally.

Every week anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 chicks hatch at the facility which has a capacity for 1.4 million eggs.

Just hours after coming out of their shell, they are sorted and disinfected with animal safe spray then they are packed up and sent off.

The already thriving company has been overwhelmed lately.

“We’re being a little bit overwhelmed with phone calls from people trying to order,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara says it’s not just their retail customers.

“We actually supply for resale, a lot of farm stores. And I have some of those stores reporting three and 400 percent increases,” O’Hara said.

People are hoping to save money by having their own eggs and are willing to raise their own chicks to get them.

"There's going to be a wait. Okay, pretty soon we're going to be sold out for March and April," O’Hara said.

Reports show in 2022 egg prices more than doubled after the deadliest bird flu outbreak in U.S. history.

Over the last year, there’s been numerous avian influenza outbreaks across the country. Over 50-some-odd million birds have to be put down trying to stop the outbreak,” O’Hara said. “So, if you take away almost 10% of the market it forces prices up and it takes a long time to replace those because it takes five months for a bird to start laying an egg.

While egg prices have come down in some places O’Hara says the industry is bracing for another outbreak.

“If the influenza hits again, which is almost expected, there’s going to be more problems,” O’Hara said.

If you are thinking about taking a crack at raising your own chickens, O’Hara says to do some research first. It's a time-consuming process that will require all kinds of equipment and supplies.

Click here to learn more about the care and brooding process from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries and to place an order.

In Ohio, you must buy at least six chicks.

O'Hara says at his hatchery, they typically cost between $6 to $10 each, depending on the breed.

Mt. Healthy Hatcheries carries 60 different breeds.

You will also need to make sure you're allowed to own them where you live.

O'Hara says some chickens lay better than others.

On average, he says you can get between five and six eggs a week per chicken.

To prevent the spread of disease at the hatchery, eggs and chicks are kept in a bio-secure area only open to essential staff.

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Safety precautions were taken to film inside the facility.

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