As one of the great Have A Heart Farm supporters noted, another consequence of zoning allowing for backyard chickens would be the issue of people who might extend the parameters of zoning on their own and begin slaughtering chickens on-site in their backyards, which would negatively impact not only the chickens but neighboring homes as well. And, as many of these municipalities involved are near forest preserves and there are already issues with coyotes and foxes showing up in backyards, having chickens there would just be another disastrous draw for them.
With what seems to be an increasing amount of urban dwellers – who are non-animal rescuers – wanting backyard chickens, Have A Heart Farm notes the downfalls associated with such an endeavor and in addition to the issue of routine exploitation, how it too often ends in problems for both the chickens and those who do farm animal rescue. There are issues of what becomes of these chickens when they are ill and/or not wanted any longer for whatever reasons. Too often, these requests come not from the bird owners, but from others who have found these birds – often ill and/or injured – dumped and abandoned in various locales.
There is only a limited segment of the population of those who keep backyard coops who are willing or able to spend money on veterinary care when chickens become ill, which is often the case in extreme weather climates, finding it cheaper to just replace the ailing birds with new ones which often results in inhumane outcomes for the ailing birds. Those who wish to act responsibly often find it difficult in urban areas to even find veterinary care for chickens. Also, just the word “coop” often attests to the cramped and inadequate conditions of many backyard impromptu chicken housing units that are thrown together when some people are suddenly inspired but ill-prepared to have their own chickens. An additional issue is when gender-typing goes awry and the expected egg laying hen turns out to be a crowing rooster, again resulting in an unwanted bird. And, while the issue of the number of dogs and cats being dumped at shelters is a major issue in animal welfare, there are at least shelters in urban areas that will take dogs and cats.
This is not the case for chickens, who often at best end up in animal control facilities that are unable to keep even healthy birds more than a day or two before euthanizing them. Those of us in farm animal welfare are often expected to have some kind of “magic” sanctuary to send these birds to, which is often not the case due to the limited number of farm animal rescue sanctuaries in existence and the number of rescued chickens they already have. Additionally, many sanctuaries are not even equipped for chicken rescue and are unable to take any in at all. Also, people often become desensitized and therefore dismissive to chickens in ways that they would not be so to dogs and cats, often viewing chickens in terms of eggs and/or meat.
Like the plight of so many animal species, chickens are often emotionally unappreciated and not recognized as the highly sociable and intelligent sentient beings that they are. Those who rescue chickens and/or care for them on a daily basis can attest to the challenges involved in caring for them responsibly, especially in climates that have hot and cold temperature extremes. As with any living beings, great thought and planning has to go into caring for them with the main thought and intention being what the reasons are for having chickens to begin with, and whether these reasons primarily benefit the chickens or the people involved.
The planned Have A Heart Farm sanctuary will be including rescued chickens in its animal family roster. For more information about Have A Heart Farm and how the public can help and participate, please see our website:
Originally posted on Have A Heart Farm’s blog by Debby Rubenstein. Reposted with permission.