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Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

One of the effects of the “pandemic” that still lingers years later are the now all too common shortages of random consumer goods. The most notable at least for me were toilet paper and ammunition, although I had plenty of both. The shortages were startling to most Americans as we haven’t really experienced anything but abundance for decades. Anything you want, as much as you want was the name of the game. Live in Minnesota but want fresh fruits and vegetables in February? No problem, you could get them and they were cheap. With the rapid expansion of Amazon and competitors, you could get virtually anything in the world delivered quickly and often free, right to your doorstep. Hell, you can even pay someone to bring you Taco Bell.

Then 2020 happened and suddenly you went to stores and the toilet paper was gone. So was bottled water, and paper towels. Most canned goods were scarce and purchase quantities were limited. Fresh meat, especially it seemed chicken, was often out as well or limited. It was common to go to big box stores like Sam’s Club or Costco and see entire sections of the store wiped out. Several times I went to Sam’s and the whole back corner of the club where paper products and bottled water are kept was just row after row of empty racks.

We all lived it so this isn’t news to you, nor is it news that right now the big shortage is eggs. Again using Sam’s and Costco as my example, not only are the prices out of control but the coolers where eggs are kept are often thinly stocked or empty. What the hell happened?

Well in part Avian flu happened. Joel Salatin talks about it and one thing he said really resonated. Around 58 million chickens have been euthanized and he estimates that at best, 3 million birds were actually positive for Avian flu but the response is always scorched earth, kill ’em all and start over.

The good news for egg aficionados is that chickens have a very rapid turn-around time for replenishment. If you lose a bunch of cattle it can take years to replace them but chickens are hatched and laying eggs in just a few months. So the shortage should coming to an end fairly soon, although I doubt egg prices will get back where they were pre-Avian flu much less pre-pandemic when I remember buying eggs for under a buck a dozen.

The bigger issue is what he says at the end. Why are millions of chickens (and this happens with hogs to an extent) being slaughtered like that? The reason is simple: there are too many chickens crammed into laying house so when disease gets in, it spreads like wildfire. Those “cage free” eggs in the store? That is bullshit. They aren’t in cages but tens of thousands of birds in laying houses are still ripe for disease and while they can “go outside”, they still spend most of their life packed into those buildings.

We have our own laying hens, although their production can be a little unreliable so I still get eggs from the store. I am planning on adding to the flock with dedicated layers to help stabilize that production but not everyone can do that. It is yet another reminder that our food system is incredibly fragile and it wouldn’t take much to make it fall apart.

Don’t wait for the next “pandemic” to figure out how to feed your family if the food chain snaps.


  1. VietVet

    I’ve got 30 laying hens, ten of which are pullets but they are laying.

    We don’t do artificial lights in winter because chickens are regulated by the movement of sun and moon.

    They molt in November, restart laying in January. During this period egg production is significantly reduced.

    Because we’ve had a warm winter they have started increasing production.

    I’ve had seven year old hens still laying.

    This whole thing is bs

  2. Mike Hendrix

    Actually, those “free-range” chickens ARE in cages. I have a friend who sells “free-range” eggs to one of the local yuppie-puppie grocery stores; the chickens are actually in a small coop he and his wife built, which is on wheels. Every cpl-three days, they push the contraption a few feet along this beaten-grass circular track in the back yard, and voila! The official requirement for calling them “free-range eggs” is thereby met. If you’re paying exorbitant prices for “free-range eggs,” you’re being had. Hoodwinked, bamboozled, as somebody or other once said.

  3. Moe Gibbs

    A trip to Sam’s just 3 hours ago yielded 5 dozen large eggs for under $15 here in South Central Texas. They were up as high as $20 for 5 dozen a few months ago, but supply never really dwindled. Some of these “shortages” seemed conveniently timed, as did the rise and fall of gas prices, nationwide. Like, ya know, maybe it was orchestrated?

    Nah, that’s crazy talk.

    • Jeffrey Zoar

      Funny how $4/dozen suddenly feels like a bargain, since it was $7 just a month or two ago. Something tells me we aren’t going to see $1 again.

  4. Don Curton

    Mid-Covid I had a liberal co-worker seriously try to tell me there were no shortages and I was simple exaggerating it. I told him to ask his wife about her grocery shopping. He said he did all the grocery shopping and there were no shortages. I had just been to the store and there were several things on my list that they were completely out of, plus many more where the normal brand names were missing and weird generic looking brands were in their place. He wouldn’t believe me. That’s the type of complete blind idiocy we’re dealing with.

    And yeah, I always thought free-range was a hoax.

    • Don Curton

      Bearclaw, like your profile pic. I’m about 3/4 thru the biography of Liver Eating Johnson. Dear God, if even half of that is true, those were men the likes we’ll probably never see again.

      • KDOG

        I’d never heard of him until now, but I did a quick search and was quite the character. I like biographies … what is the name of the biography you are reading?

      • KDOG

        Oh, I forgot to add, another person I find fascinating is Killdozer, a.k a. Marvin Heemeyer.

        Man, the things you learn from just reading blog comments…

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