Backyard Chicken Farming's Ugly Side: Homeless Poultry

Many people don't realize that chickens stop laying eggs and can become messy, noisy and difficult to care for, so they put them up for adoption.

Written by Jacob Bourne

Animal shelters across the country are experiencing an inundation of chickens as a result of buyer's remorse, and Marin is no exception.

According to NBC News, "the growing trend of raising backyard chickens in urban settings is backfiring," as people with dreams of fresh eggs and quaint coops are finding coal in their stockings. 

"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," NBC reported.

Mill Valley city code allows residents to keep up to a dozen chickens but crowing roosters are banned.

“Many areas with legalized hen-keeping are experiencing more and more of these birds coming in when they’re no longer wanted,” said Paul Shapiro, spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States. “You get some chicks and they’re very cute, but it’s not as though you can throw them out in the yard and not care for them.”

Right now at the Peninsula Humane Society, there are chickens for adoption. According to the adoption page for the birds, the shelter "usually has several chickens in need of a good home."

If not in shelters, chickens often end up on Craiglist, commonly because chicks are difficult to sex, and people accidentally end up with noisy, aggressive roosters.

Since only July 5, many chickens, roosters and chicks have been posted on the San Francisco Bay Area Craigslist, including a hen and rooster in Milpitaschickens in Sonomahens in Oakland, roosters in Sonoma, Cornish chickens in San Jose, and chicks in Los Gatos

Mary Britton Clouse, who owns a chicken rescue in Minneapolis, said the chicken population flux in shelters and on Craigslist is an unfortunate result of the same farm-to-table movement that created the popular vegetable-filled, home-delivered CSA boxes.

“It’s the stupid foodies,” she said. “We’re just sick to death of it. ... People don’t know what they’re doing. And you’ve got this whole culture of people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing teaching every other idiot out there.”

If you're interested in responsibly owning chickens, you can contact the Peninsula Humane Society, located in Burlingame, by calling 650-340-7022.

Do you have experience with chickens? Every regretted buying an animal? Tell us in the comments!
Obligatory Obloquy July 09, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Marin should focus on curtailing its human population and then worry about the chicken one.
Philip Quim July 09, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Chickens are good eating. What's the problem?


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