Every spring, feed stores across the country celebrate "Chick Days." Tens of thousands of chicks will be sold to people looking to start or replenish a backyard flock, who will supply them with eggs.
But eating eggs from chickens in your own backyard really isn't as "humane" as you might hope. Here are a few issues (and this is by NO means exhaustive).
First, there is a whole lot of impulse buying – as these babies are so stinking cute. The decision to start a backyard flock can be made on a whim, as this learning curve to success is marketed as pretty attainable by purchasing the kits and supplies on hand.
But keeping birds is NOT easy. It's actually a lot harder (and more expensive!) than most of our residents. Just keeping the predators away is a massive challenge (rats might be the worst enemy of chickens).
Second, some of the chicks sold will be properly sexed, and people will know they are female. But often, chicks are offered an assortment of males and females, and the sex won't be known for weeks. Then, when males are inevitably identified, sanctuaries like us start getting calls to rehome them. And friend, we just can't take them all.
Field trip to local feed store:
Third, getting chicks to the feed stores is a deadly ordeal. These babies are often sent through the mail, sometimes delayed in shipping, and packaged up with an expected number of "dead loss." Yes, they are considered totally expendable. These babies do not receive any medical care and often when they're sick, they are either mailed back to the hatchery, where they surely die in transport or are placed in the back of the store where customers will not have to witness them dying.
Fourth, and unfortunately not unique to our present-day reality, birds can get infectious diseases. The death count for the current outbreak of avian flu is approaching 30 MILLION! And many backyard flocks have died at the hands of State Veterinarians – to curb the spread of the disease. It's truly heartbreaking – but this risk is unlikely to go away completely.
And these problems are the same for ducks and turkeys.
Just like any new addition, bringing a new (bird) member into the family is a serious commitment.
Chickens can live 8-10 years on average, and ducks live 10-12 years on average. And these animals will become very bonded to each other and to you!
Birds require a great deal of care throughout their entire lives. Many people think of them as pets they put out in the yard and just let them do their own thing. But birds are prone to all sorts of serious illnesses, like foot infections, cancers, and many viruses. Reputable chicken vets can be hard to find and many people face driving over an hour one way to get a sick bird medical care.
If you are still interested in adding chickens, ducks or even turkeys to your life, we HIGHLY suggest reaching out to your local sanctuary, or animal control office/shelter, to look into adoption. Be sure to check that it is legal for you to have chickens in your area, and what type of predators you will need to keep them safe from.
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