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March 19, 2013

Chickens hatching on in New Hampshire

Backyard chicken flocks grow in popularity

If Erica Layon had been told three years ago that she would have chickens in her backyard, she would have scoffed at the idea.

“I would have told you, you were insane,” the Derry resident said.

Today, Layon owns more than 20 chickens, which she raises for eggs and meat.

“There is such a huge difference between my egg and a store’s egg,” she said. “I could never go back to eating store eggs.”

Layon is just one of many who have recently started raising chickens. The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture doesn’t keep statistics on just how popular it is, but it’s clear it’s on the rise.

“It’s clear from all the calls we get that more people are raising chickens,” said Cindy Heisler, who works in the animal industry division at the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture. “More and more people want to raise locally.”

Bud Evans, the owner of Derry Feed and Supply, said chickens have been flying off the shelves recently.

“It’s been more popular than ever,” Evans said. “They’ve gotten hot over the last four or five years. People want to prep their own food source.”

Carolyn Blaszka of Hampstead has raised chickens and ducks for 10 years, but she isn’t the one who gets the most enjoyment out of it.

“My grandkids just love them,” she said. “They’re just happy creatures.”

Jim O’Toole, manager at Dodge Grain in Salem, said he noticed a difference when the state repealed a law requiring a minimum of a dozen chicks be bought at a time.

“New people usually like to start with a smaller flock,” O’Toole said.

At Tractor Supply in Plaistow, they hold Chick Days where customers can purchase chicks and learn how to properly care for them.

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