Dear Vancouver, backyard chickens are a bad idea
Category : Uncategorized
We already have issues with unwanted dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles, llamas, chinchillas, tropical birds, and the list just goes on and on. Introducing another kind of animal that will be part pet, part food source will likely mean bad things for the chickens themselves. Why, in this whole question of whether we should be allowed to keep backyard chickens, does no one consider the implications for the chickens?
Marji at Animal Place posted a blog today about this very issue. She writes:
Chickens are wonderful animals. They’re fascinating and engaging. They form bonds and friendships, have preferences and desires of their own. We believe they can become wonderful companions. We do not believe the backyard chicken phenomenon is turning out to be in the best interest of the birds or people. That is not to say we oppose the adoption of chickens, we whole-heartedly support anyone’s efforts at providing an appropriate and permanent home to abandoned birds.
In her post she quotes from an article by Kim Severson which appeared in yesterday’s New York Times, which looks at the problems with urban chickens in the Bay Area. Severson writes: “Unwanted urban chickens are showing up at local animal shelters. Even in the best of circumstances, chickens die at alarming rates.”
But with increased chicken popularity comes a downside: abandonment. In one week earlier this month, eight were available for adoption at the Oakland shelter and five were awaiting homes at the San Francisco shelter. In Berkeley, someone dropped four chickens in the animal control night box with a note from their apologetic owner, said Kate O’Connor, the manager.
I wonder if the Vancouver supporters have considered the negatives of backyard chickens. Is there any way to guarantee that chickens will be well-cared for and won’t be abandoned or simply slaughtered when they stop producing eggs? Will people understand that buying chickens from a breeder simply perpetuates a system that kills unwanted birds (especially roosters) and that is as cruel, if not worse, than the worst puppy mills?
When the city council voted to allow backyard hens in Vancouver many animal protection groups in Vancouver opposed the motion. Not a single animal protection group supported it. There may be a few people who do a wonderful job caring for their pet chickens, but many more chickens will suffer as a result, and a new cottage industry of breeding chickens for sale to urbanites will have been created.
It’s about time we started thinking past the latest fads of local food or sketchy ideas of “food security” and really begin to care for our fellow residents of this planet. It’s the only decent thing to do.
ps. I was looking at the nutritional content of an egg, and 1 cup of peas has more protein and more iron than 1 egg. Plus more other vitamins and a whole lot less cholesterol. It’s healthier for us and for the chickens to eat a plant-based diet.