The following is a letter I sent to Denver’s Washington Park Profile in response to their front-page article on keeping backyard chickens:
I’m glad your July article on backyard chickens included the downside. Given the practical issues of daily care, humane concerns, and health consequences of eating eggs, is this something the city of Denver should be encouraging?
The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, by James McWilliams. Thomas Dunne Books, 2015.
Industrialized animal agriculture is morally and intellectually bankrupt. Society is slowly but increasingly becoming aware of the cruel, unnatural, and environmentally harmful aspects of factory farms. But what is going to replace it?
Well-known food intellectuals such as Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Joel Salatin, and Jonathan Safran Foer have advocated returning to localized, more traditional ways of raising animals. Encouraged by some environmentalists and even some animal welfare supporters, nonindustrial animal agriculture has grown tremendously in the past decade. Continue reading “The Modern Savage — review”
NOTE: this is the basic argument against city ordinances allowing backyard chickens, though obviously you could apply the same arguments to one’s personal decision to keep chickens.
The basic argument against backyard chickens is that allowing this practice creates an entirely new category of urban animal: an animal which may be routinely mistreated in a domestic urban environment.
This is not to say that most people who keep backyard chickens mistreat them. In fact, many consider their hens to be “pets” and will keep them even after they cease being “useful.” But this is not what the promoters of backyard livestock agriculture have in mind. They are promoting backyard livestock as a practical way to obtain food, namely, eggs and meat. Continue reading “The basic argument against backyard chicken ordinances”
When I protested against the proposal to encourage backyard chickens in Denver two years ago, one of the questions I asked was “What do you think is going to happen when owners get roosters from hatcheries? Chicks are hard to sex, and ‘mistakes’ may not be evident until the chickens are six months old.” Most cities which allow backyard chickens (including Denver) allow hens but prohibit roosters.
First I must state that I adore rabbits for their personalities, intelligence, compassion for other rabbits and smaller creatures, their affection for those to whom they bond, and the pleasure they have given me over the years, living in my home as house-rabbits. Obviously, then, I cannot condone exploiting them by taking their lives to provide a meal of flesh. But both they and we benefit when we use their wonderful fertilizer or their wool. Continue reading “On Raising Rabbits (review)”
I have just received a PDF copy of a letter the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sent to Denver City Council concerning the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance. Read the whole thing (PDF document) here.
Sundari Kraft is the most visible proponent of the proposed “Food Producing Animals” ordinance which would drastically reduce the limitations on backyard chickens, ducks, and goats. Earlier I reported that one of her neighbors, Roseanne Jelacic, has written to City Council objecting to the ordinance based on her own experience with Sundari as a neighbor. Now, it turns out, another of Sundari’s neighbors, Lynn Herwick, has done the same thing some days ago. Continue reading “Next Door to Livestock — Another Neighbor’s Reaction”
Figuring out how to live with a pet can be a challenging experience, just because animals are different from humans. Even in the case of dogs and cats, which are common enough in our society so that knowledge of their care is very widespread, figuring out their proper care is not trivial. But dealing with a new kind of animal, like chickens and goats, can be a major challenge. If you try to spread the acceptance and adoption of this kind of animal, a lot of people are going to get it wrong. Continue reading “Casualties of Backyard Livestock Agriculture”
The draft of the Denver “Food Producing Animals” ordinance states: “There must be at least one hundred and thirty (130) square feet of permeable land area available for each dwarf goat, plus adequate shelter space for each dwarf goat.”
If the ordinance currently before the Denver City Council to allow virtually anyone to keep chickens and goats passes, what would this mean for Denver?
Denver currently allows chickens and goats in residential areas but only under highly restrictive conditions, and probably fewer than a dozen households have the permits to do so. Roseanne Jelacic is therefore one of the few people in Denver to live next door to someone legally keeping chickens and goats. Last Monday she sent an e-mail letter to all the members of the Denver City Council concerning her experiences. After receiving her permission, I have reprinted it below (deleting only contact information). Continue reading “Next Door to Livestock — One Denver resident’s experience”
Denver is poised to pass an ordinance allowing livestock in people’s backyards, specifically, up to eight chickens and two goats. Keeping backyard chickens as pets isn’t necessarily a bad idea, if you did it right, and I wouldn’t have a fundamental problem with that. We have even toyed with the idea of adopting chickens ourselves. But this is something very different. It would create a new class of backyard animals, animals that are valued for their meat, milk, or eggs. Continue reading “Things that Bother Me about Denver’s Proposed Livestock Ordinance”