Backyard chickens ?? Fad or Real Solution?

Articles
June 05, 2009

Backyard chickens ?? Fad or Real Solution?

Feathers may fly in municipalities where laws restrict backyard chickens or other animals (rabbits, hogs, geese, turkeys, ducks or other fowl) that people might want to raise. In some cases, they begin as pets and end as dinner, much to the horror of children. Other people raise chickens outright as meat sources and signal that by calling their outdoor residence the ‘dinner coop.’ Still others keep chickens as pets, harvest the daily egg from each hen, and marvel at the food’s richness, over and over again. These aren’t Old MacDonald wannabes looking to raise backyard animals for a lark. Their ranks include inner-city residents who work on urban farms and other modern-day homesteaders who want to save money on groceries, control a sustainable food supply, and be greener too. These people are the reason the magazine Backyard Poultry has a bimonthly print run of 100,000, and its publisher Dave Belanger told the Washington Post: “Chickens are America’s cool new pet.” Whether most proponents believe that backyard poultry is the next logical or desirable step after a backyard garden is established, is open to question. Judging by the repeal of local laws when residents apply pressure to allow backyard chickens, however, the restrictions seem likely to be more about noise and nuisance concerns rather than health issues. Still, the flies, pests, predators, animal waste and sanitation issues associated with raising chickens or other animals in the backyard would give us pause at SupermarketGuru.com, at least enough to figure out the right processes for maintaining healthy creatures that, one way or another, frequently become a food source for families.

Feathers may fly in municipalities where laws restrict backyard chickens or other animals (rabbits, hogs, geese, turkeys, ducks or other fowl) that people might want to raise. In some cases, they begin as pets and end as dinner, much to the horror of children. Other people raise chickens outright as meat sources and signal that by calling their outdoor residence the ‘dinner coop.’ Still others keep chickens as pets, harvest the daily egg from each hen, and marvel at the food’s richness, over and over again.

These aren’t Old MacDonald wannabes looking to raise backyard animals for a lark.  Their ranks include inner-city residents who work on urban farms and other modern-day homesteaders who want to save money on groceries, control a sustainable food supply, and be greener too.  These people are the reason the magazine Backyard Poultry has a bimonthly print run of 100,000, and its publisher Dave Belanger told the Washington Post: “Chickens are America’s cool new pet.”

Whether most proponents believe that backyard poultry is the next logical or desirable step after a backyard garden is established, is open to question. Judging by the repeal of local laws when residents apply pressure to allow backyard chickens, however, the restrictions seem likely to be more about noise and nuisance concerns rather than health issues.  Still, the flies, pests, predators, animal waste and sanitation issues associated with raising chickens or other animals in the backyard would give us pause at SupermarketGuru.com, at least enough to figure out the right processes for maintaining healthy creatures that, one way or another, frequently become a food source for families.

The chicken-raising community has spawned colorful characters, including a red-bearded blogger known as The Chicken Whisperer. The publishers of Grit and Mother Earth News have united to create The Community Chickens Project, an online resource for poultry information. Amazon.com sells six books related to the raising of chickens. The grassroots feel among enthusiasts, in a way, is artful on the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival, which took place on Max Yasgur’s chicken farm in upstate New York.

As light as this movement sounds, it’s underpinnings are dark—and we believe speak volumes about a growing lack of confidence in the consistent quality or safety of the foods in mainstream distribution, and consumers’ ability to continue to afford them.  If backyard chickens are the first sign of a mounting consumer independence with respect to food, we applaud the spirit. If people are willing to care for animals in ways that keep them happy, and commit to administering health-protective measures that may be required, then by all means let this trend take wing.