In Part 1: Where is the chicken vet when I need it?, we looked at the societal shift in backyard poultry keeping. Today, we are going to focus on how we have Pinterest and supermarkets to thank for this shift.
So, what do supermarkets and chicken vets have in common?
Well, to start, supermarkets meet our needs, so now when our chicken gets injured, we treat it, we don’t always eat it. While regulations on feed and medication have come into place, there are also more options on the market to treat our animals with. Our standard of living has also made it easier for some to make calling the vet a viable option. Don’t get me wrong here, inequities exist. Calling the vet for your chicken is an absolute privilege and not always an option for some. That’s why we have to be careful not to judge those on some of our favourite chicken forums who are looking for alternatives for treatment. Essentially though, when society traded in their connection to food for convenience, we moved towards the idea that chickens had value beyond food and could be viewed as pets to enjoy in our backyards.
Consumer Trends + Market Readiness
Another factor that has come into play is the collection of breeds and trends in backyard poultry. For example, when we began selling backyard poultry nearly 8 years ago, Buff Orpingtons were highly desired. It was at that time that I started to see a shift towards Lavender Orpingtons for their looks, and Ameraucanas for coloured blue eggs. I began offering them the following year, and within the last three years, the larger hatcheries in Ontario were able to begin offering those breeds on a larger scale. It is important to note, that it takes breeders and hatcheries high upfront financial costs to introduce new breeds. It is on average 2-4 years for them to invest, establish, and prove these breeds for the market. Once market ready, we see those costs reflected the pricing of the bird, with newer breeds typically costing double to quadruple the amount of traditional breeds such as leghorns, red sex links, and Cornish x meat birds as businesses try to regain those initial upfront costs.
I blame Pinterest.
As an average middle aged woman, Pinterest is often my muse, so there is no ill intent when I blame Pinterest, but it does play a huge factor in what is trending- chickens included. Breeds like Copper Marans and Crested Cream Legbars have social media to thank for their popularity.
Pinterest and Instagram posts of coloured eggs are driving the consumer demand for the new breeds to be introduced to the market. Therefore, backyard chicken owners are more likely to drop more money on breeds that are more fluffy and beautiful or lay coloured eggs, than the run of the mill production type breeds that are a dollar a dozen to meet their flock goals. So, calling the vet becomes a mechanism to protect your prized investment as well.
In addition, people are becoming more interested in sustainable living, doing their part for the environment, slow food movements, pesticide and gmo free goods, and living a simpler life more connected to their food by raising their own.
So there you have it, a quick synopsis of how a shift in consumerism and societal beliefs, drove the need for backyard chicken vets in Canada.
In Part 3 of this blog series, we continue to look at market trends and their influences on backyard chicken keeping on our lead up to understanding how our flock care has changed.
Part 2: What do supermarkets and backyard chicken vets have in common?
Part 4: Oh Kijji
Part 5: Interview: Dr. Erin Preiss of Hockley Valley Mobile Veterinary Services
Like today's post? Comment with your thoughts below or share it with a friend.