I’m very close to declaring war on chickens. This is strange because I love chickens, they are providers of eggs and tasty, tasty meat. They are quite stupid and feathered but little baby chicks are adorable, even when I know that they are going to be dinner.
My major problem is that chickens do not belong in cities or city gardens and that my new neighbours (the ones with a patio garden!) moved in the week before last and sometime over the week I was on holiday, moved in some chickens complete with a cockrel (rooster).
I do understand the impulse to own chickens. I love the idea of a garden full of growing vegatables and chickens wondering around it. I can see the benefits of pets that make food and if you have children, owning chickens is a great way to teach them about where food comes from.
I can think of three major reasons not to do it and I’m going to lay (see what I did there?) them out here.
You live in a city, packed with people. You may not talk to your neighbours but you know a lot about them because you can hear them. Seasoned city dwellers, just manage to tune most of the noise out. I do. However, it’s really hard to tune out the noise of your cockrel (or your hen who thinks its a cockrel) announcing it’s presence in the neighbourhood at 5am in the sodding morning. You may feel that this is a minor inconvience for the joy of fresh eggs every morning. I don’t and I’m not getting any eggs in this devils pact either. You know who else doesn’t enjoy it, the baby next door, who woke up and wailed for an hour (poor parents).
Chickens are messy eaters. All that feed you give them, it hangs around and attracts rats. It’s estimated that there are 10.5 million rats in the UK. They’re pretty lazy and they like to be near food. You’ve just provided them with food. Thanks for that, I want to be even nearer rats than I already am. There are also foxes but I’ll address that in my next point.
3) It’s cruel.
You wouldn’t think it was cruel, you have a garden, you have hens. They come out of their coops, peck a bit and go back into them overnight and lay you a tasty egg. That’s all very well but you live in a neighbourhood with a thriving urban fox population. I have no real objection to foxes, they eat rats which is going to be useful if you will insist on keeping chickens. However, foxes also like chickens, more accurately, they like biting chickens heads off. I have seen foxes prowl around a hen run again and again looking for a way in. This causes a lot of alarm in the chickens, cue more night-time noise and eventually that fox finds a way in and kills all your chickens, cue distress and blood and feathers all over the place. So what do you do, you secure your coop and keep the hens in all the time. So now the hens are hardly out of the coop, because you can’t let them out when you’re not at home and at night/evening they need to be locked up in your hen Fort Knox. So your hens are now traumatised by foxes and practically battery chickens.
Well done, you’ve alienated your neighbours with noise and vermin for hens that aren’t well looked after.
I do understand why you what to keep chickens, I understand the impulse to go all Good Life, I used to have an allotment for goodness sake! People need to understand that keeping chickens isn’t an activity designed for city life. It disturbs your neighbours, attracts pests and isn’t fair on the animals. If you want to teach your children about where food comes from, city farms, trips to the country and growing some are all good. If you really want to keep chickens, maybe get an allotment (although you wouldn’t be able to keep a cockrel and the other welfare rules are quite strict) but please don’t inflict on others, what my new neighbours are about to inflict on me. It’s not nice.