Below is a statement put forth by the Eastern Shore Sanctuary (now VINE Sanctuary) in conjunction with Animal Place, Chicken Run Rescue, Farm Sanctuary, Sunny Skies Bird and Animal Sanctuary, and United Poultry Concerns. In it we list why and how people should contest the growing trend of ordering and keeping backyard flocks of chickens.
Collective Position Statement on Backyard Poultry
In the past couple of years, the practice of keeping chickens in urban and semi-rural backyards has increased.
People keep chickens for a variety of reasons: opposition to factory farming; a desire to eat fresh eggs; a genuine love for chickens as companion animals. Like other fads, this one has drawbacks which hatcheries and chicken breeders don’t want you to know about.
If you truly enjoy the company of chickens and believe that all animals should be treated with kindness and justice, please consider these facts before organizing your own backyard flock:
• Chicken feed and excrement attract rodents to your house.
• Hatcheries, like McMurray Hatchery, treat chickens no better than factory farms do. In fact, they ARE factory farms. Their treatment of chicks is abominable and comparable to the mistreatment of dogs in puppy mills.
• Sending chicks through the mail is abusive. Temperature-sensitive chicks should not be boxed up without food or water for up to 72 hours and transported through the postal service. Please note: Purchasing chicks at feed stores is the same as ordering them through the mail. Contrary to appearances, those chicks do not come from local farms, but from mega-hatcheries.
• Hatcheries will send you roosters even if you ask them not to. They use roosters as packing material and chicken sexing is more art than science. While cities may be zoned for hens, most prohibit roosters, leaving them to be abandoned or killed at shelters.
• Chickens need proper housing and fenced-in yards to survive inclement weather and predators. They also need easy access to fresh food and clean water at all times, a clean yard and sleeping space and good veterinary care.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you are not zoned for chickens, keep it that way! There are too many problems with chickens living in urban environments.
If your town or city is already zoned for chickens, check out the specifics of the ordinances and ensure that they are as humane as possible.
If you have read through all of this material and still want to live with chickens, adopt from a farmed animal sanctuary or animal shelter. Note, though, that sanctuaries have strict adoption protocols to protect the animals.