New Zealanders rush to buy their chickens as egg shortages mount

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The price of eggs around the world has risen as much as chicken from avian flu in the past year The herd and fallout from Russia’s war with Ukraine raised energy and animal feed prices.

In the United States, egg prices have outpaced increases in other grocery items, rising nearly 60% in the 12 months to December from the previous year. Wholesale prices in Japan have reached record highs.

In New Zealand, which consumes more eggs per capita than most countries, the pressure to change farming regulations has increased. And rising prices have sparked a frenzy, with people hunting down chickens online to secure their supplies of the pantry staple.

On Tuesday, popular local auction site Trade Me told CNN that so far this month, searches for chickens and equipment related to their care are up 190% compared to the same period a month ago.

“Since the beginning of January, we’ve seen more than 65,000 searches for chickens and other chicken-related items, such as feeders, coops and food,” said Millie Sylvester, a spokeswoman for the company.

there is also a shortage caused a particularly acute headache for bakers in the country.

Ron van Til, who owns a bakery near the city of Christchurch, said: “Now everyone is trying to buy chickens for the house because they are not getting eggs.” Who? He’s had to adjust how he makes his cakes and muffins.

Van Til said his sister was selling “four brand new chickens” at auction through Trade Me for more than double the normal price.

The trend has prompted animal welfare advocates to warn against buying on impulse.

“Chickens live longer,” said Gabby Cleese, CEO of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in New Zealand. “They live for eight to 10 years, sometimes even longer depending on the breed.”

Klezzi also noted that hens do not lay eggs their entire lives, and that their laying habits depend on factors including their age and local climate.

“So if people are getting chickens only because [they think] They will have a sustainable supply of eggs, that is not at all the case,” he said. “We’re asking people to consider them the companion animals that they are.”

Trade Me also urges customers to be mindful of any purchases they make on its marketplace.

“It is important that our members are aware of the responsibilities that come with owning chickens, and are well prepared to care for them,” Sylvester said in a statement.

Health experts are also weighing in. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone signing up for a backyard coop should take extra care when handling the animals and their eggs, especially because of the risk of germs associated with salmonella.

Egg shortages in New Zealand have been linked to a long-anticipated change to farm legislation, which came into effect on January 1 this year.

According to the SPCA, the law prohibits the production of eggs from hens housed in conventional or “battery cages” — typically cramped metal spaces that do not provide adequate welfare for the hens.

So in 2012 the government announced a ban on such facilities.

When asked about the current shortage, Peter Hyde, a representative from New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries, told CNN in a statement: “A 10-year transition period away from conventional cages was introduced to give egg producers time to change farming methods.” May you have time.” ,

“Egg producers had the option of moving to colony cages, barns and free-range systems,” said Hyde, the ministry’s acting national manager of animal welfare and national animal identification and tracing compliance.

Hyde said that over the past 18 months, the ministry “has been in regular contact with operators, and has visited farms in need of transition.”

According to some businesses, however, the prolonged ban has resulted in a shortfall in supply.

Foodstuffs, a New Zealand supermarket chain, recently imposed a temporary limit on the number of eggs each customer can buy.

“This is a significant change for the egg supply industry,” Emma Wooster, the company’s head of public relations, told CNN in a statement. “We are working with egg suppliers to expand our offering to other types of eggs.”

Countdown, another major grocery retailer, said that while there is currently no limit on egg sales, it would encourage customers to “buy only what they need” to ensure there is enough supply for everyone.

An egg seller sets up his stall before dawn at a farmers market in Auckland in 2020.  New Zealand is currently experiencing a major egg shortage, squeezing businesses and driving up demand for pet chickens.

Other businesses have been forced to change things.

Bakery owner Van Til said his team had swapped out fresh eggs for alternative ingredients in the recipes.

The longtime owner of Rangiora Bakery has seen wholesale prices for fresh eggs rise by nearly 50% compared to four months ago, prompting him to buy more dried eggs.

Van Til pointed to changes at other local eateries, saying that some cafes had started taking certain dishes off their menus, so “instead of five breakfast items [with] Eggs, you can only have two.

“And expect customers to pick up pancakes or waffles,” he said. “Or whatever other offerings you bring.”

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