New Zealanders flock to buy chickens amidst egg shortage

Kate Green for RNZ

Trade Me search data might have cracked the question of what comes first - the chicken or the egg? Turns out, it's the chicken.

Interest in online auctions for chickens has more than doubled amid a nationwide egg shortage.

Trade Me spokesperson Ruby Topzand said searches for chickens, coops and feed had risen to more than 21,400 in the past week - up from 9300, a 129 percent increase.

A ban on battery-caged hens, announced back in 2012, came into effect at the end of last year. It left supermarket shelves sparse and prompted some stores to limit purchasing quantities.

A quick search of Trade Me showed egg-laying chickens for sale for anywhere between $25 and $50. Fertile eggs were listed for about a dollar each.

The SPCA in 2021 cautioned people from jumping into chicken ownership, urging careful thought about whether they had the time, resources and environment.

Consideration of the neighbours was also important, especially if a rooster was part of the flock.

Chickens needed a safe and enriching environment, it said, including shelter, nest boxes, a dust bathing area, and access to a safe outdoor area where they can exercise, scratch and forage.

It reminded people chickens needed company, and ideally they would be kept in a flock of at least three.