Thursday, September 24, 2015

Victims of the Backyard Chicken Movement

Increasingly we're becoming more educated about our impact on the environment, and more concerned about what our families are eating.  Urban farming is becoming more popular as people want to know where their food comes from, and ensure that the food they eat doesn't leave a carbon footprint. 

Part of the urban farming movement is getting backyard chickens, and some cities have passed ordinances allowing limited numbers of chickens to be raised in a person's backyard.  What could be better than knowing that the eggs you're eating came from the hens you're raising and not transported in a way that causes carbon emissions? 

Additionally many people like the idea that their backyard chickens live a pampered life and aren't subjected to the crowded, filthy and inhumane environment of chickens in a factory farm that produce the eggs we purchase in store. 

One of the problems with backyard chickens is that most municipalities that allow it have a prohibition against roosters since they are very noisy.  Roosters don't just crow at the crack of dawn, they start their crowing at the crack of dawn and continue throughout the day.  That type of noise is unwelcome in an urban or suburban environment.  The hatcherys that sell chicks can only give a 90% guarantee that the chicks they are selling will be hens, and not roosters.  This means that a person ordering several chicks runs a very real risk of one of them growing up to be a rooster, and will face a difficult decision as to what to do with him when that happens. 

Increasingly HAWS has become a solution for some suburban backyard chicken fanciers in Waukesha County.  A few weeks ago we had a woman surrender her rooster when it became old enough it was apparent it was a male.  Last week 5 roosters were abandoned in a box in Menomonee Falls.  A few days ago a man brought in another rooster that someone had dumped at his farm.

Unfortunately some people who want to do a good thing by humanely raising chickens and knowing where their eggs come from are behaving in an irresponsible manner as a consequence of their hobby.   If someone wants to get chickens they should do their research and know what they are getting themselves into beforehand.  If they don't want to risk getting a rooster then older chickens should be purchased.  And if they get chicks they should have a clear plan as to what will happen if one or more turns out to be a rooster, and be responsible enough not to give it to an animal shelter. 

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