For chickens’ sake, please don’t be a “stupid foodie”

Sunday guarding the Hens resting on deck

Photo by sierravalleygirl via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Over the weekend, NBC News ran a story from JoNel Aleccia on failed chicken stewardship on the part of some backyard-chicken enthusiasts. She writes,

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.

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….

It’s the same scenario at the Chicken Run Rescue in Minneapolis, Minn., where owner Mary Britton Clouse has tracked a steady climb in surrendered birds from fewer than 50 in 2001 to nearly 500 in 2012….

“It’s the stupid foodies,” said Britton Clouse, 60, who admits she speaks frankly. “We’re just sick to death of it.”

Folks on the chicken-sanctuary frontlines are dealing with the problem firsthand, but others say such issues represent the small minority of cases. As Aleccia reports,

advocates of home-grown chickens … say that a few negative incidents shouldn’t give a bad name to a practice that encourages both self-sufficiency and the consumption of sustainable food grown in a humane manner.

“We’ve experienced smell, noise, pests, etc., way more from improperly cared for dogs and cats than we have from backyard chickens,” said Rob Ludlow, owner of the fast-growing website, BackYardChickens.com, which started with 50 members in 2007 and now boasts 200,000 members. He is the author of three books, including “Raising Chickens for Dummies.”

“Hundreds of thousands of people are realizing the wonderful benefits of raising a small flock of backyard chickens, the pets that make you breakfast,” he said, noting that cities nationwide have agreed, passing ordinances making it legal to keep small flocks of urban chickens.

Head here for the full piece. And please, if you’re contemplating getting a backyard chicken or two, do your homework! The internet and bookshelves everywhere are full of resources to help you decide if being an egg farmer is really right for you.

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