Backyard chickens – a bad idea

  • 5

Backyard chickens – a bad idea

Vancouver city council is considering allowing Vancouver residents to keep chickens. While I realize that some people will keep chickens and care for them properly, I fear that most will not.

Here are my reasons for opposing this motion:

There are already welfare concerns with the keeping of the animals who are currently allowed, such as dogs, cats, and rabbits. Keeping a chicken requires knowledge about poultry handling, which most residents do not have. There is too much risk that chickens will suffer more if the by-law is repealed than they do already.

Introducing chickens into Vancouver’s unique urban environment will draw predators into the city, putting the chickens at risk from coyotes and raccoons. There is already a delicate balance which will likely be thrown off – meaning that chicken-keeping residents will end up asking the city to “deal with” the predators, likely lethally.

I also fear that some people will likely be keeping chickens for meat and butchering in their backyards.

It is important to keep in mind that most people will not be keeping chickens as pets, but rather as a food source – and animals kept as food sources are very often ill-treated. Will they be covered by the same laws that cover dogs and cats and rabbits, or will they be exempt from many humane laws as farm animals are?

The local SPCA does not have the resources to police the keeping of chickens, and I doubt the city has money in the budget to deal with checking on chicken-keeping households to make sure that animal welfare laws are being followed.

All of this means that most chickens will be kept in terrible conditions, possibly caged, with inadequate shelter and care, at risk from predators that they have not evolved to deal with.


Amanda Daniell

March 4, 2009 at 11:48 am

Great Points Glenn.

Thanks for sharing your perspective.


March 4, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Think about all the chicks they would be breeding specifically for back yard farmers. I’ve been to a feed store in Abbotsford where they have baby chicks in stacked trays and customers will come and say “I want 3 chicks” and the cashier will go pull 3 chicks out of the tray and put it in a box for the customer. And what happens to the chicks if they are not sold….probably gound up to make fertilizer.

And as if we don’t already have a pet overpopulation crisis. The last thing we need is to add another kind of animal to the mix. Soon the shelters will be overrun with unwanted chickens or people will just kill them in their back yards and eat them or release them in Stanley Park like they do rabbits. Think of all the chained dogs in people’s back yards and all the issues we have with that. What the heck are people going to do with chickens? They’ll be left in wire bottom cages soaking wet in the rain all winter long. Then the SPCA won’t be able to do anything because it’s perfectly fine to treat chicken however you want to treat them. So animal rights people will be going into people’s backyards to liberate chickens. And then the police will have to get involved. It’s just a total waste of resources. Don’t we have enough issues in this city?

And oh, when the SPCA gets overwhelmed with unwanted chickens, they will have to be euthanized. If I remember correctly from the cock fighting bust last year, isn’t the best way to euthanize chickens by snapping their necks?

The problems we have with pet rabbits is already bad enough, we don’t need another one. Soon we’ll be ordering abandoned chicken to be shot like they are doing with abandoned rabbits in Kelowna.

Great idea eh?


September 11, 2009 at 10:04 am

I volunteer at the SPCA and you make a good point about how they don’t have resources to care for yet another type of mistreated animal.

However, I’ve also seen what goes on in the mass production chicken plants in vancouver. Everybody’s seen those disgusting smelly chicken trucks driving by with close to 100 chickens crammed into cages that are way to small for them. These chicken are force fed chicken by products, antibiotics and growth hormones, they have there beaks burned off to prevent them pecking at each other (because they have no space to themselves), and most of them have never walked in their life. These horrible chicken places don’t allow chickens to engage in their natural behaviour of pecking and scratching. They have absolutely no quality of life at all.

I’m a vegetarian and I care deeply about animal rights. So, while it makes me sad that some chickens will not be properly taken care of… it seems to me that even the badly taken care of backyard chickens will have a far better life then the ones who spend their lives in the horrific chicken plants.


December 25, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Glenn, I will have to agree with Katherine, you are assuming that most chicken owners are going to treat their pet chickens very badly.

The reality is that people looking to have backyard chickens are people who do not believe that chickens should be treated the way they are being treated in commercial operations. And yes, you are right and you will find that some pet owners would not be responsible with their pets. But most of them will.

Closing your eyes and assuming that commercially raced chickens have a good life before reaching our tables is a bit naive.

Your concerns about backyard chickens while probably consuming commercially raised chickens and their eggs without even thinking of their living conditions before they reached you is a bit of a double standard if you ask me.


December 26, 2009 at 11:59 am

Just because backyard chickens would not be treated worse than chickens on a commercial farm is no reason to allow them. The issues extend way beyond the care of the hens, to issues of hatcheries, slaughter, unwanted animals, etc, etc. Looking at the big picture is important in these issues, not just at the hens themselves. What sorts of systems will be created or maintained by allowing backyard chickens? Will more people breed chickens for sale to people who want chickens? How many unwanted roosters will be killed at a day old for all of these hens?

Many leading animal sanctuaries in the US have seen an increase in intakes of unwanted chickens from urban chicken keepers. They have released a position statement opposing resolutions that allow for the keeping of chickens in urban areas:

“Your concerns about backyard chickens while probably consuming commercially raised chickens and their eggs without even thinking of their living conditions before they reached you is a bit of a double standard if you ask me.” Triny, that’s the oddest thing to say on this blog I have ever heard. I am obviously vegan and this is obviously an animal rights blog. Where do you get your evidence to even begin to question that I might support commercial egg production?

Leave a Reply