The most frequent search term, that people get on my blog with, is “Hühnerhaus selber bauen” (german for “Build your own Henhouse”). The popularity of the subject of backyardchickens seems enormous. And at the same time, the idea of keeping a few hens in your more or less limited suburban space, is politically so correct, that I’ve never ever heard anybody say anything bad about it.
That’s why, it got really alert, when I saw the following Headline in the Facebook-Timeline of a colleague in the far Canadian west: “You Absolutely Should Not Get Backyard Chickens”, it read. The link led to a very interesting blog, called “Northwest Edible Life” by Erica, who says about herself: “I grow, I cook, I save and I try to stay slowish in a very fast world.” Sounds good.
But anyway, back to the backyardchickens. I’m not gonna retell the whole story, it’s a very worthy entertaining read. Just shortly, Erica says, don’t even thing of buying a “half-dozen cute peeping balls of fluff” to grow them into chicken when you’re not ready to either keep them as long as they live, even when they stop laying eggs, or culling them yourself, when they no longer supply you with eggs.
Erica, who is a seasoned owner of chickens in the backyard herself, says this, because a friend of hers wants to buy some balls of fluff so badly. But she only thinks of the eggs, and not of the consequences that their production has. The productive phase of hens, even if they are kept like pets, is relatively short, 3 years, sometimes a little more. But they can live much longer. 20 year old hens are not unheard of.
The 5 to maybe 10 years, that you only feed the postproductive hen, cost you hundreds of dollars, as my blogging colleague calculates. Her friend isnt’r really ready to dispense so much. But on the other hand she wouldn’t be able to do any damage to her hen, not talking of killing her for a tasty chicken stew.
So the only alternative would be to give away the chicken to some kind of old hens home. Lack of responsability, says Erica. With a certain right, I think, either you go the full way with your chicken, or you absolutely shouldn’t get backyardchickens. Thanks for the interesting thoughts, Erika, always good to look at a worldwidely praised phenomenon from another angle.