Duck Duck Goose…. or Chicken?

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50 Billion eggs are produced each year in the US. Have you ever wondered what a mass chicken producer’s coop looks like? I’ll give you a hint: it’s nothing like this. chicken

It is much more concerning. Millions of chickens are crammed into small, wire cages often covered in feces, feathers, and rust (Factory Farm Conditions). So what’s the alternative? For egg lovers like me, it’s easy: raise your own chickens! Unfortunately, chicken keeping has traditionally taken place on farms and thus most cities have zoning regulations that prohibit residents from rearing livestock on land not zoned for agriculture. The laws have been slow to change due to concerns about regulations for chicken health, contamination from droppings, smell and noise concerns, and predator species (Chicken Concerns).

In Virginia Beach, VA, city council has yet to achieve a majority vote to allow backyard hens. As of 2011, all surrounding cities have adopted regulations to allow 4-6 hens on properties of at least 10,000 sq ft. My backyard in Norfolk has been home to Gertrude and Henrietta for the last 18 months. Every morning I let them out and collect their eggs. The quiet, docile creatures spend their days searching for last night’s dinner scraps while scratching in the dirt. Their droppings fertilize the soil that in turn neutralizes the smell. And like clockwork, every evening at dusk they return the coop where they are protected from predators for the night. Public health nightmare or sustainable living solution? You make the call- to your councilman. (Steps for Action).

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3 Responses to “Duck Duck Goose…. or Chicken?”

  1. sbfphc Says:

    Small scale poultry may even be better for the environment that the industrial scale polluting poultry ‘factories’ (farms)

  2. Sara J. Taylor Says:

    Reblogged this on childrenofthe1860s and commented:
    This is a post that is not related to our progress in building the hut. This article is a good article on why to keep chickens. And addresses the concerns about sanitation and health for chickens and humans in factory farms

  3. shanraym Says:

    This is really interesting– definitely not something I had ever considered before! While the current state of poultry farming in the US is awful to both birds and farmers, my question for the author is what is their end goal, or ideal situation? Also, where would they like to see the poultry industry make changes?

    If more individuals started housing chickens for their personal use, that may reduce the number of eggs purchased by families in the grocery store, but obviously personally owned chickens will not produce enough eggs for manufacturing and large-scale food processing. Will these companies then need to find alternatives? Or are you suggesting that these CAFOs support the food production side of things, while individuals can resort to locally-owned/sourced eggs? I’m not trying to be argumentative, I am interested to see if this post is meant to support personally owned chickens so as to reduce reliance on CAFO-based poultry and eggs, or if they are suggesting an alternative for those individuals who are concerned about the state of animal welfare in the US.

    Lastly, birds are vectors for many different types of diseases, a few of which are able to transfer to humans. While the chance of that is very low, with the public media frenzy surrounding Bird Flu or Swine Flu or whatnot, how would you suggest this campaign be promoted or marketed in communities?

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