Dealing With Sky High Egg Prices? Try Raising Backyard Chickens

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Eggs at this New Jersey Wegmans are selling for $7.50 for 18 eggs. (Credit: Alexis Tarrazi/Patch)

BALTIMORE COUNTY - As egg prices in Maryland approach $4.50 a dozen, many are struggling to get their hands on the breakfast staple.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in December 2021, the average price for a dozen eggs was $1.79. As of December 2022, egg prices reached $4.25 a dozen, a 400% increase from last year.

What's causing the skyrocketing egg prices? According to the USDA, the United States is currently dealing with the deadliest avian flu outbreak in American history.

"Egg-flation" has even been turned into a TikTok trend. Chicken owners are becoming backyard egg dealers to fill their community's eggy needs.

Thankfully, since February 1 of last year, Baltimore County has made owning and raising chickens in your backyard easier than ever.

The Backyard Chicken Caucus of Baltimore County, a chicken-raising advocacy group, worked tirelessly in 2021 to ensure the passage of Bill No. 113-21, "Backyard Chickens"

The bipartisan legislation was sponsored by Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who said the legislation will "provide options for homegrown food and help teach children responsibility."

The goal of the Backyard Chicken Caucus and Bill 113 was to ease zoning requirements for raising chickens on residential properties. Before the passage of Bill 133 on February 1, 2022, any resident seeking to own chickens would need at least one acre of land.

According to the Caucus, the one-acre requirement was a barrier for low-to-moderate-income residents. The advocacy group also said licensing requirements needed to be streamlined and simplified.

"The law [should] be set up in a way that is based on common sense, scientific facts, and addresses the issue in a way that is constructive and designed to truly care about the welfare of both county residents and the chickens that are at the heart of the issue," The group said. "These are small flocks of chickens with names and personalities. Just like cats and dogs, they are treated with love and affection for many years to come."

The new requirements allow any Baltimore County resident with 10,000 square feet of property to own up to four chickens. Residents with more land can have more chickens according to this scale.

  • 10,000 sq ft = 4 hens
  • 20,000 sq ft = 6 hens
  • 30,000 sq ft = 8 hens
  • 40,000 sq ft = 10 hens

All flocks must be registered with the Maryland Department of Agriculture. In addition, owners must apply for a license with Baltimore County. The permit costs $100 for three years.

The application should include a site plan for a coop and run and a description of all fences and lot boundaries. Forms can be found here.

For anyone interested in raising chickens, the Backyard Chicken Caucus provides a vast array of information on its website.

"We feel that if we care enough to invest out personal time and effort into advocating for the right to keep and raise backyard chickens, it is our responsibility to provide as much information, resources, and support as possible for those around the county who will try their hand at raising backyard chickens, hopefully, thanks to our efforts."

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