Families who are unable to buy eggs in supermarkets have been buying livestock from UK poultry farmers during the coronavirus outbreak.
UK poultry farms have seen an unprecedented rise in sales of their chickens, as supermarket egg supplies dwindle during a period of panic-buying.
The chaos in UK stores comes as the prime minister urged people to self-isolate and work from home – and ordered restaurants, pubs and other public spaces to shut their doors until further notice.
According to a report by the Telegraph, Rosehill Hatchery in Hanningfield, Essex shut after they sold 300 hens in just 48 hours.
Jane Hunter of Edinburgh Chickens in Rosewell said that all her weekend appointments were booked up by Wednesday and that even her suppliers are out of stock.
Annie Hall, of Annie Hall’s Poultry in Westerleigh, Bristol told the newspaper: “I’ve been selling chickens for twelve years and I’ve never seen anything like it.
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
“People can’t buy eggs in the shops, and they’re also looking for ways to occupy the children now the schools have closed. I’ve now got about a thousand chicken and duck eggs in incubators.”
But Jane Howorth MBE of The British Hen Welfare Trust raised concerns over the unprecedented rise in chicken buying – and said the tone of those buying left here thinking “people wanted to eat the birds, not offer them homes”.
She said “We re-home farm chickens to save them from slaughter and our phones have been ringing off the hook. Hens seem to be as rare as toilet rolls right now. At first the calls were from our usual, compassionate chicken keepers, who donate an average of £5 per hen.
“But on Tuesday the tone of the calls changed. When people were offering 25p a hen we began to think people wanted to eat the birds, not offer them homes.
“So, we are no longer taking reservations from people who aren’t already on our books.”