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BlackYard Chickenz Lays The Foundation For Urban Bird Care

Reec Swiney has an easygoing personality, even if he seems to always be in motion. The former college basketball player turned radio personality, hailing from New Jersey and now residing in Austell, GA, is perpetually moving, talking, laughing — and giving. 

In addition to his full-time work as a radio host and podcaster, Swiney somehow finds time in his busy life to always give back. Whether that is coaching and developing young athletes, providing a free lunch and mentoring time to select youths in his area, or lending a hand at his family’s food pantry, there is very little Swiney won’t do to help his community.

He takes time out from his busy day — indeed, he was in the middle of a video shoot when Garden & Health reached out to him — to talk about his most recent hustle and obvious passion: chickens.

Photo Courtesy BlackYard Chickenz

Laughing, Swiney described how the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic led him to his newest business venture BlackYard Chickenz. “I’ve always had random types of pets around the house, but when the pandemic hit, everybody was inside, and that’s kind of where the chicken dreams started,” he said. “One day, we were out of eggs, and I was like, ‘man, it’d be dope if I had my own chickens. I could just go get a backyard, right?’”

After a quick Craigslist search to track down a couple of feathered friends, a Google deep dive on how to care for a live chicken, and a trip to the local Ollie’s discount store for a coop, Swiney found himself the owner of two “discount chickens.” Soon after that, BlackYard Chickenz was off and running.

“It was super organic. I mean, everything just kind of … came together,” Swiney said. “I wasn’t going out and searching to be the chicken guy in my neighborhood or anything like it just happened like that!”

From here, Swiney starts to do “chicken math,” as he puts it, calculating the number of eggs per chicken and multiplying that by how many birds he could, or should, get. 

“Everybody who has chickens knows about chicken math. I was like, well, ‘I got two chickens,’” Swiney said. “‘They started laying eggs, right? Like, I’ve got two chickens laying a couple of eggs a day, but I have five people in my house. Maybe I should get two more chickens, right?’”

A quick trip to a local farm bore more fruit in the form of four more birds! What happened next surprised even Swiney.

Photo Courtesy Reec Swiney

He began posting straightforward yet effective videos of himself with his chickens to his social media pages, and that’s where things started to take off. 

“I posted a video of these chickens on my TikTok page, and it does like 500,000 views in like 10 minutes. Instagram as well, a whole lot of views, and it just kind of blossomed from there,” he said.

“And then people were asking me how I got started. So, now I’m starting to do more research. Now, I’m educating people on backyard homesteads.”

When asked about his runaway social media success, Swiney is straightforward and to the point, as he seems to be about almost everything.

“Honestly, it was just really organic, man. Like, I’m not like fishing for likes or fishing for anything. I’m just posting things that I find interesting,” he said. “And people are finding them interesting as well. And I’m just doing my regular personality like when I do my radio show.”

Swiney is a magnetic force and speaking to him about something as seemingly mundane as a backyard chicken coop takes on greater importance. Whether it’s hosting his radio show, giving back to the local youth in his community, or educating people about chickens and eggs, it’s obvious that he will always be giving his all.

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