All about animals: Chicken caution

August 1, 2013

With more people raising chickens in their backyards, animal welfare groups encourage residents to think it through before bringing chicks home.

“Do your research and know what you’re getting into and be sure that you can actually provide the animal with proper care,” said Brenna Galdenzi, volunteer coordinator with Green Mountain Animal Defenders.

Galdenzi said people should research the breed they are buying to find out how long it lays eggs and how long it lives. Chickens also involve a financial investment, between a coop, feed and care.

“Talk to other people who have hens, ask them how much it’s costing them a year to maintain their flock and also be prepared, what are you going to do with that hen when she’s no longer providing eggs?” she said.

Galdenzi added that it’s next to impossible to determine the gender of chicks, so people could end up with roosters, which are generally unwanted.

Sharon MacNair of the same group said she has seen a spike in requests for help finding a new home for chickens—especially roosters or hens too old to lay.

“That is a very tall order since the birds being given away are often in that situation because they cannot fulfill the desire of the people who already have them, which is to lay eggs,” she wrote in an email to the Observer.

The group has also seen chickens abandoned in parks and downtown Burlington.

Galdenzi said people should also consider whether they can provide veterinary care for chickens.

“We find a lot of times people aren’t prepared for that and (chickens) suffer or die because they’re not getting proper medical treatment,” she said.

Galdenzi stressed that the bottom line is to do your research.

“Don’t just jump on the backyard chicken bandwagon,” she said.

—Stephanie Choate, Observer staff