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Backyard Chicken Farming Fails

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Backyard Chicken Farming Fails

Backyard chickens dumped at shelters when hipsters cant cope, critics say.

While this headline and the story that accompanies it may sound like an article out of the satirical newspaper “The Onion,” they are in fact from the NBC News site and writer JoNel Aleccia.

Aleccia writes:

Hundreds of chickens, sometimes dozens at a time, are being abandoned each year at the nations 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.“*

The story goes on to cite a Humane Society spokesperson and a number of no-kill rescue facilities, which have seen a huge increase in abandoned backyard chickens over the last five years. The two no-kill rescue facilities quoted saw nearly 1000 chickens dropped on their doorsteps in 2012 alone!

Mary Britton Clouse (owner of Chicken Run Rescue) saw her rescues rise from 20 in 2001 to almost 500 in 2012.

She traces that rise to the so-called locavore movement, which spiked in popularity in 2008 as advocates urged people to eat more food grown and processed close to home.

Its the stupid foodies, said Britton Clouse, 60, who admits she speaks frankly. Were just sick to death of it.

Naturally, to keep the piece balanced, Rob Ludlow, an author and backyard chicken enthusiast, is quoted in the middle of the piece about how wonderful it is to keep “pets that make you breakfast” and how abused and abandoned chickens are rare. He also says that many people love their chickens so much that instead of killing them after they stop laying, even though they had planned to, they end up keeping them as pets… Thankfully Aleccia doesn’t let the piece end there.


*Although Aleccia states that chickens only lay eggs for two years, there are differing opinions on this subject. Some chickens will continue to lay eggs until late in their lives, although the number of eggs can declines after their second molt.

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


+ add your own
11:34PM PDT on Aug 15, 2013

What's the point

9:34AM PDT on Aug 5, 2013

Thank you for noting at the end of the article that chickens continue laying for more than two years. Most hens lay year-round (or nearly so) for the first few years, then the laying season gradually shortens as they age. We have had chickens in their mid teens that still lay eggs for a few weeks in the spring. Some people make the mistake of thinking their chickens will never lay again the first time the egg supply dries up during late fall/early winter when in fact if they would just wait a couple of months they would see prolific egg production again through the spring and summer months.

The standard practice of butchering laying hens at two years of age is not because they stop laying at that age, but because the meat is still reasonable tender. If you are raising chickens for both meat and eggs, letting them lay for two years before butchering them is considered an efficient compromise. Any longer and the meat would only be good for stew.

8:54AM PDT on Aug 5, 2013

Bradley, what the #### has this spam got to do with keeping chickens?

I know if I had chickens I'd be keeping them for life, not just for eggs. In the UK, I believe the charity that rehomes hens actually has a waiting list of people wanting to adopt. Sounds hard to believe? I hope it's still true!

3:46AM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

thanks for sharing

7:20AM PDT on Aug 2, 2013

Urban farming is very in vogue right now.

9:27AM PDT on Jul 29, 2013

It's sad to know that a noble thought ends so horribly for these birds.

7:15AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

Thank you.

9:20PM PDT on Jul 26, 2013


9:29AM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

Sent this article to my daughter who has a flock of backyard chickens via Facebook. Claire above has a realistic perspective of the situation, I think.

2:00AM PDT on Jul 23, 2013


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