|My friend, Terry Golson, keeps chickens and a bunny together.|
Recently I read the book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It was excellent. It served as a reminder that people form, spread and create laws based on opinions and not facts. If you look carefully, history has taught us this lesson time and time again with many different scenarios, yet many ignore it, continuing to base their beliefs and practices on hearsay or another's opinion. Even animals receive stereotypes, take the backyard chicken for example. Below in bold is what many believe, yet many have never met a small flock of backyard chickens in their life. I beg to differ.
Chickens are stinky and filthy animals. All animals whether you keep dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbit, reptiles, snakes, hermit crabs or parakeets require upkeep and maintenance from time to time. If neglected, those animals would and can give off unpleasant scents and attract flies. A small flock of 4-10 hens is easy to maintain. When properly cared for on a regular basis, your chickens will be free from odor. In fact, they do care about being clean. Yes, they take daily dust baths. They also roost in the evening which helps keep their feathers clean and away from poop. Sometimes, like all animals, they need a little help. You can bathe chickens when necessary if they are not doing a good enough job. How clean you keep your chickens is up to YOU.
Chickens lure predators and rodents to my yard. At night even large cities have animals that arrive under the cover of darkness. They are out looking for food. In addition to seeking a chicken dinner, predators will seek left over scraps that the chickens did not eat. They will also drink from your chickens’ water source. Rodents will do the same. At night, take a moment to clean the run of any left-over food. Take the waterers inside. Be sure that all food/scratch is locked up in metal containers. Predators and rodents are smart. Once they realize that food and water sources do not exist around your coop and run, they move on.
Chickens will make me sick. As with any animals, people should always wash their hands after coming in contact with them. If one's clothing becomes soiled while handling animals they should be changed and laundered. The greatest risk with chickens is Salmonella. The risk of salmonella decreases with hand washing. All domestic animals are capable of carrying and spreading diseases. What about Avian Flu? Here is what the CDC has to say:
Yes. In the United States there is no need at present to remove a flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian influenza. The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors potential infection of poultry and poultry products by avian influenza viruses and other infectious disease agents.
Chickens are noisy. If you have a rooster(s), this is sometimes the case. Roosters can and will crow at any hour day and night. There are techniques to help keep roosters quiet and neighbors happy. However, without roosters in a flock, backyard chickens are virtually undetectable. Sometimes there is an occasional “Bawk-Bawk-Bawk” as a proud hen declares that she has laid her egg. You might also hear your flock call out if they are in danger. Chickens will sound the alarm and notify all in hearing distance that something is askew.
Chickens will decrease the value of homes in the neighborhood. We are not talking about starting up a chicken farm. A small flock will live in a small coop. The coop and run are removable if the new owner decides chicken keeping is not for them. Some people will choose to take their set-ups with them. If people think that a small flock of chickens tucked into a backyard garden will bring down their property value then, what about a dog run? What about those people who allow junk to collect all over their property? What about hoarders?
What chickens will do is create beautiful compost. They will eat bugs, including ticks, mosquitoes, slugs, and black widows. They will fertilize your gardens and eat weeds. They will lay wonderful eggs and make wonderful pets. Click here to see the resume of a chicken. Please help educate local residents and lawmakers about keeping backyard chickens. Responsible people should be able to keep backyard chickens nationwide. A little education can open many peoples' eyes. Fear of the unknown is not reason enough.
By the way, thought you should know that the CDC, part of the US. government, is now considering backyard chickens as pets!
Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest