I recently wrote a magazine article about the hidden cost of garden chicken keeping, having read far too many online articles documenting various individuals failed attempts to keep a few chickens in their back-garden.
The gist of these stories was that the new chicken keepers didn’t really regard chickens as ‘proper’ animals and were therefore woefully unprepared in meeting the needs of their new feathered dependents.
Chickens forgetting to be fed, runs left open to the urban fox, dismay over wrecked flowerbeds and complaints about noise were common themes. I remember one highly strung woman believing that her birds had ‘demonic tendencies’ just because they ran towards her at feeding time; scary things chickens.
It seemed to be that for many, a desire to get a taste of the ‘good life’ merely resulted in a mutually miserable experience for chicken and chicken keeper alike.
It was painful and depressing reading.
So I set pen to paper, highlighting that whilst keeping chickens is, in my eyes, great fun and hugely rewarding, there are associated costs. Your garden will get damaged, it will get shat on, feed is expensive and your chooks need to be cared for at all times; if one is not prepared to accept these factors, then they are better off not getting chickens at all.
I would never want to put any one off from keeping chickens, but, at the same time, I hate the idea of chooks being bought on a whim, to follow a fashionable trend and for them to suffer as a consequence. After all, they may be small, they may be exceedingly daft sometimes, but chickens are still livestock and they should be treated with the level of care that this entails.