Coronavirus: Families strip poultry farms of chickens as supermarkets run out of eggs

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
Families are buying chickens and backyard hens as supermarket stocks dwindle following a period of panic buying in the UK. (Getty Images)

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. 

Poultry farmers said they are worried that hens are being slaughtered by families who are offering as little as 25p per bird. (PA)

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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. 

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“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.” 

The COVID-19 outbreak has seen the UK public stockpiling various items including hen-laid eggs. (Getty Images)

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”. 

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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.  

Photo by: KGC-305/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 3/19/20 As COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues, supermarkets are becoming more and empty. Staff at Tesco Extra in New Malden explained they simply could not restock the shelves fast enough. The 24hr store has already cut its opening hours to 6am-midnight, to try and cope with the insane amount of shoppers coming through the doors. However at 9pm, despite the car park being very busy, the shelves were pretty much ALL empty, not just the usual long life food aisles and toilet paper aisle. Instead, all fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, beer, crisps, ready meals, dairy etc, was totally empty. Confused customers walked around the store almost in a daze, while others rushed to pick up the few available items left.

“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.” 

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