Urban Chickens: The Fowl Reality

So, it seems we don’t just have an issue eating our horses, but also our hens. A recent article by Sarah Boesveld of the National Post, brought my attention back to a rather interesting consideration:  “the urban chicken movement.”

You’ve heard of it, yes? The desire many urbanites have, to produce their own food? Well, it appears the hours of slogan-writing, signature-signing and band-wagon-jumping, were far easier than the day-to-day responsibilities of actually owning livestock. In fact, many urban farmers have decided to give up their commitment to chicken production. How do they move on? Well, according to the aforementioned article, undesirable chickens are being dropped off at animal shelters and sanctuaries in mass.

Side note: I wonder how many of said shelters are free-range?

Okay, okay. I’m being a bit brash. Don’t get me wrong. I’m completely for urban agriculture. I’m also for a production system that is not entirely composed of large scale farms. Consumers should have a choice, sure, and should be given the opportunity to help in food production wherever possible. But, the second I see “movement” in the description of an activity/event, I am skeptical.  Have the people involved really done their research? Or are their desires to be involved based solely on their emotions? Are they thinking as individuals, or as a flock?

Regardless, identifying problems is the easy part. It’s coming up with solutions that can be dreadfully difficult. But, I have a proposal. A compromise, really.

If city councils decide to allow urban chicken farming, perhaps they should also institute mandatory licensing? Owners of dogs and cats are required to have a license for their animals, no? Perhaps anyone deciding to partake in urban agriculture should have some form of credential. In the case of raising chickens, we could set up a mandatory three-day course on biosecurity, noise bylaws, manure management, safe food handling and how to butcher/clean/cook chickens. The course would be fun, hands-on and provide interested individuals with networking and knowledge-transfer opportunities. Those who don’t pass the course, will not be licensed to farm chickens within city limits. Those who do, can proudly hang a weather-proof copy of the certificate on their fence with a full understanding of the work that goes into maintaining a backyard coop.

If you’re going to invest in chickens, don’t be one.

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