“It’s the stupid foodies.”
These day the “foodie” trend is toward growing your own food, making your own soaps, and even keeping your own chickens.
Organic Farming’s article “5 Reasons to Raise Chickens” says:
Even if you live in the city, once you realize the myriad benefits a small flock of three or more hens can provide, you’ll start thinking of your non-chicken-keeping neighbors as the strange ones. “Most people are going to get chickens because they love eggs, but then they’re going to find out how useful they are in other ways,” says Patrician Foreman.
The benefits of raising your own chickens include: they eat insects, they eat table scraps, soil health (fertilizer?), saving “heritage breeds” from extinction, and they increase the”love” hormone oxytocin that you’ll release.
None of those seem very compelling to me. But if you’re a foodie intent on raising your own farm animals, your reasons are probably not my reasons anyway. Nonetheless, foodies bringing chickens into the city has been, quite frankly, a disaster.
Despite visions of quaint coops, happy birds and cheap eggs, the growing trend of raising backyard chickens in urban settings is backfiring, critics say, as disillusioned city dwellers dump unwanted fowl on animal shelters and sanctuaries. (Source: NBC)
Turns out, raising chickens isn’t as easy as a couple minutes a day, and the benefits probably aren’t all that great or long lasting either.
Hundreds of chickens, sometimes dozens at a time, are being abandoned each year at the nation’s shelters from California to New York as some hipster farmers discover that hens lay eggs for two years, but can live for a good decade longer, and that actually raising the birds can be noisy, messy, labor-intensive and expensive.
Yeah, that’s the problem. Chickens are living breathing things. They require care. And lots of it.
People entranced by a “misplaced rural nostalgia” are buying chickens from the same hatcheries that supply the nation’s largest poultry producers and rearing them without proper space, food or veterinary care, she said.
The most commonly available hens have been bred to be good egg layers. At the same time, backyard farmers often use enhanced feed, light or other tools to prompt hens to lay constantly. After keeping up that pace for 18 months to two years, however, hens often develop reproductive problems including oviduct diseases that can kill them, veterinarians say. However, healthy hens can live for years longer, up to a decade after they stop laying.
In addition to the noise, many urban farmers are surprised that chickens attract pests like rats, and predators including foxes, raccoons, hawks, and even neighborhood dogs.Because chickens are notoriously hard to sex, some backyard farmers wind up with roosters, which are often culled and killed because they can be noisy, aggressive and illegal, and, of course, they don’t lay eggs at all.
When they get sick or hurt, they need care that can run into the hundreds of dollars, boosting the price of that home-grown egg far beyond even the most expensive grocery store brand.
Britton Clouse, who runs a chicken rescue home said: “People don’t know what they’re doing. And you’ve got this whole culture of people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing teaching every other idiot out there.”
Farming looks romantic, it looks easy, and it looks like fun. But there is a reason we call it our JOB. Or, even better, a LIFESTYLE. We do this 24/7. We have the experience, tools, resources, and knowledge to properly care for our animals and make sure they are happy, healthy, and productive.
Instead of getting your own chickens, how about you volunteer to help with chores on the farm for a few days instead?
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net