Remember all those hipsters who wanted to raise chickens in their backyard or on their apartment balconies? Well now they’ve realized they can’t cope with the responsibility, and animal shelters are being overrun with urban chickens!
From coast to coast, chickens are being abandoned, sometimes dozens at a time, by owners who started out with good intentions. They wanted to get “back to the land” and eat fresh eggs. Only later they realized chickens can be messy, noisy, labor-intensive and expensive. The backyard farming trend exploded over the last few years. Websites like BackYardChickens.com went from 50 members five years ago to over 200,000 today.
But some people who got chickens on a whim didn’t anticipate the work it takes to raise them. They didn’t realize that hens only lay eggs for a couple of years, but can live for another decade beyond that. And just like any other pet, when they get sick or injured, a vet visit can cost hundreds of dollars. All of a sudden, those free eggs don’t seem so cheap anymore!
Plus chickens can attract pests like rats and predators like raccoons. That’s why one rescue group, Farm Sanctuary in New York, is now getting 500-plus chickens every year, and a lot of them are sick or malnourished. There are tons of ads on Craigslist from people trying to get rid of their chickens, especially after they stop laying. And Chicken Run Rescue in Minneapolis says a decade ago, only about 50 chickens were surrendered a year. Last year, 500 chickens were surrendered to their facility. So before you jump on the urban farming bandwagon and send away from some hatchlings, do some research. Chickens can be wonderful, loving pets that also provide breakfast. But they do take time, money and effort to raise properly.