Easter tends to bring out the cute and fluffy things in life.
There are the ever-present bunny rabbits, but some might not know about the increasing presence of baby chickens in suburban homes. The chicks, fresh out of their shells, are given as gifts to the delight of youngsters.
“Chicks are the new dog,” said Debbie Schacht, who helps run Parker Feed & Supply, a company that has been in business for 42 years along South Parker Road.
The family owned and operated store sells approximately 300 chicks in the two weeks leading up to Easter. And while the chicks bring smiles to the faces of those who receive them, there are a few important things to remember.
Building or buying a quality chicken coop, with access for easy clean up and egg retrieval, is a must. The chicks must be kept inside for warmth during their first 12 weeks. Complying with town ordinances and homeowners association rules is advised, Schacht says, as is having a chicken run and a wire-topped coop that prevents hawks and owls from preying on the pets.
But once the details are taken care of, the chicks can be enjoyable first pets. Schacht, the proud owner of 23 chickens, said they make perfect 4H projects for kids in suburban areas.
“They learn how to take care of them and can sell eggs on the side,” she said. “It’s a great way for kids to learn responsibility.”
Chickens exhibit different personalities. Some are sweet-natured, and some are there strictly to conduct the business of laying eggs. They prefer not to snuggle up.
“Others come running up to me,” Schacht says. “One knows her name: Speckles.”
The chicks at Parker Feed & Supply arrive by mail from a Missouri hatchery every spring and are sold for between $3 - $4.25, depending on breed. Some breeds, appropriately for Easter, end up laying bright blue, green and pink eggs within 4-5 months.
Of course, it’s best to determine whether a child and his or her parents are equipped to handle a baby chick or two before giving them as a gift.
Chicken ownership is on the rise in the suburbs and several Denver-area municipalities adopted revised regulations last year after requests from homeowners who wanted to put coops in their backyards.
Town of Parker ordinances pertaining to chickens:
“No livestock or male fowl capable of crowing shall be kept by any person within the town.”
“Domestic, noncommercial use of poultry and/or fowl shall include, but not be limited to, chickens, turkeys, pigeons, exotic birds and ducks. Containment of the poultry or fowl shall be required and not be closer than two hundred (200) feet to any off-site residence or business on an adjoining property. The maximum number of poultry or fowl allowed shall be fifty (50) on any one (1) parcel. Poultry or fowl shall not be allowed for commercial purposes.”