Pecking away at the economy: Urban dwellers flocking to raise chickens
More than chicken scratch, backyard chickens provide sustainable food for hungry families.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 10:21
In this tough economy, it's nice to know you can find breakfast in your back yard.
Raising backyard chickens was touted as a passing green trend in 2005 but has grown into a sustainable way for families to feed themselves in this tough economy. Not only does it meet the needs of the family, but it gives chickens a much more comfortable life than those on factory farms.
According to Factory Farming Facts, 250 million hens in U.S. egg factories supply 95 percent of the eggs we eat. But the cost to the chickens is unconscionable. Five to eight birds are crammed into cages only 14 inches square in size and have no room to act naturally. Because of these unnatural conditions, they become aggressive. Farmers sear off the beaks of young chicks — a cruel and painful process.
The eggs produced by these birds are less nutritious than eggs produced by hens allowed to exercise, peck for bugs and practice chicken behaviors. Happy chickens provide better eggs. The eggs also taste better. Factory farm eggs are days and weeks old by the time you get them home, degrading the consistency of the egg. Fresh eggs have firmer, whites and bright orange yolks.
In factory farms, male chicks are suffocated in garbage bags or thrown whole and live into meat grinders and sold as chicken byproduct. (Have you checked the labels of your hot dogs lately?)
According to The City Chicken, it's important to limit your backyard chicken flock to two or three chickens, choose the right breed and provide the right habitat.
For those wanting to learn more about raising their own flock, Nap Town Chickens will present "Tour de Coops" on Sept. 18 in Indianapolis in the Broad Ripple/Meridian-Kessler/Butler-Tarkington/Rocky Ripple neighborhoods. Participants will ride from coop to coop on bicycles to see first-hand examples of city-dwelling birds, meeting owners and making friends with others who are also interested in raising their own chicks. A $5 donation is requested and goes to benefit Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and IndyCog, Indy's own bicycle advocacy and awareness group.
If you can't make it to the tour, chicken "eggspert" Andrew Brake, will teach How to Raise Backyard Chickens (click Going Green) through the IUPUI Community Learning Network.
Currently, there are no Indianapolis ordinances forbidding the raising of backyard chickens. Recently, Bloomington changed its ordinances to accomodate the practice. However, Ft. Wayne has yet to see the light where backyard chickens are concerned. While chickens are not technically considered livestock, Animal Control continues to confiscate chickens raised in city limits.
South Bend requires one to own five acres before raising chickens.
With no end in sight to a bleak economy, and the plight of chickens in factory farms continuing to rise, Hoosiers need to do more squawking to get laws changed so families can grow sustainable food independent of government interferance and coprorate greed and cruelty to animals.
Raising backyard chickens allows Hoosiers to live a more gentle, sustainable, healthy life on this planet.
Now that's something to crow about.
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