THE DARK SIDE OF BACKYARD POULTRY

One of the chicks that we hatched back in 2007

It’s great to see more and more folks these days turning towards raising poultry and other small stock in their backyards as the trend towards eating closer to home spreads across the nation.

But there’s a dark side to this trend and it’s finally been exposed.

Video shows chicks ground up alive at egg hatchery – Yahoo! News  (note this video is disturbing!!!!)

Before this graphic hatchery video came out, we were not too thrilled with many of the popular hatcheries that have been getting quite a bit exposure and business these days due to the city chicken craze.

In fact, while being interviewed for an upcoming article on citified farm animals (Los Angeles Magazine Oct Issue), we were asked by the reporter if we could recommend some hatcheries or places where people can buy chicks.

Our response to the question was that

“we are NOT happy with the hatchery option and certainly would not recommend pet stores or even feed stores.

Our  best advice is to find someone in the local area, via word of mouth, who has a good reputation with others who keep chickens and ducks. One source is farmer’s markets–perhaps starting with egg vendors.”

Start with sites like LocalHarvest.org

Having said that, here’s Jordanne’s reaction to the video

Everyone needs to speak up. I’ve been saying this for a long time… chickens are great. But now that a lot of us have taken the step backward to raising chickens, we need to go even further back and do it more sustainably and that means EVERYTHING from birth to death; feed to medicine.

Hatcheries have NEVER been right. Large scale operations are so wrong on many levels. That is why I hatched some of my recent chicks from a local source of eggs and then adopted out the roosters or had them live happy and free-ranging lives on a farm until they were sustainable and respectfully butchered. I was aware of what happened in hatcheries and it made me sick to be a part of it.

So, we need people to speak up and tell these hatcheries that it isn’t right. And, we need local sources of eggs/baby chicks and a network of farms who can help

Comments(13)

  1. Stasia says:

    I have been hemming and hawing at the idea of breeding our Golden Laced Wyandottes, but after reading this post, I’m going to do it, and stop ordering birds from the BIG hatchery.

    It would be nice to be able to make this heritage, dual-purpose breed available to local poultry fanciers, from a cruelty-free source.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention! I will keep an extra couple of Wyandotte cockerels from this year’s butchering chicken order to maintain as flock sires. 🙂

  2. Cindy says:

    Thank you for sharing – I had no idea about the way things are done at hatcheries.

    You’ve told us the problem, now we need your input on feeding and caring for our backyard family in a sustainable fashion. How do you do it sustainably at your place? Do you grow ALL feed and bedding for your livestock? We have a small backyard flock and want to feed them in a sustainable fashion, preferably growing our own feed. There are so few people out there who are truly raising city critters sustainably, and any help/tips you can provide about how things are done are your homestead would be a huge help 🙂

  3. David King says:

    The baby chick in the mail is like the vegetables we grow in Los Angeles – they only seem to be sustainable. The chick comes from a type of factory farm where the conditions are kept from us and so we are freed from feeling guilty for the actual operation. Our vegetables are grown with water that is no less tainted with the blood of ruined ecosystems. Can we REALLY be sustainable in the LA Basin or will we have to subscribe to illusion and simply pretend we are sustainable? I signed on to be sustainable too, but the further we go, the more is revealed about our modern system and our culpability in the ongoing destruction. Being sustainable gets more and more difficult and instead of just a gentle evolution to a new, deeper way of living, I see the economic model of modern America will require something that seems to be revolution and repudiation of almost everything about it.

    The challenges are many, but holding to the concept that “local” trumps cheap has got to be one of the rally points upon which the future can be built. It might be even better to do without if we can’t get what we need from someone we can meet face to face.

    david

  4. Glynis says:

    One of the main reasons we are choosing not to raise chickens is that the whole idea of getting chicks in the mail freaks me out! Who would package up a baby and send it in the box in the mail? The entire concept is very strange and horrifying to me.

    I did not, however know what goes on in hatcheries. I can not watch that video. I won’t watch it. Your words are enough, and thank-you for telling us.

    Now, where can I find someone with ducks in this city so I can adopt a few ducks and have my own duck flock??

  5. amy says:

    I didn’t know this but I wondered where the male chicks went. If I get chicks next year I will find a local source. Thanks for the information!

  6. Roger Gray says:

    Around greater Pasadena and Altadena, I can think of a half-dozen city-chicken keepers who are likely sources for eggs — and the farmer’s markets are a good idea, as an organic/forage feed operation might well have good chicks. If you have a fall County Fair, its a good place to check in with local operations, and even local 4H ers . . . as usual it is about getting to know your source of supply and finding one you trust!

  7. Kristin says:

    I’m in Iowa and I looked up “Iowa hatcheries” a while back because I wanted to get local chicks. This company ended up in the search results. They’re not for the backyard chicken raisers. If you check out the website, you’ll see they’re all about genetics and breeding the un-nataural super-chickens. It makes me so much more sad when something like this happens near me because I feel like maybe I should be doing something to stop the poor treatment.

    HyLine has a complete section on their site about Animal Welfare and how they take exceptional care of their animals.

    http://www.hyline.com/aspx/animalwelfare/animalwelfare.aspx?navid=153

    “To that end, we are committed to the humane and respectful treatment of each and every bird in our care. All of our employees are expected to be advocates for animal welfare. We have developed and implemented welfare policies that cover all aspects of bird management. Our employees and cooperators are specifically trained on the proper methods of handling birds to minimize distress or injury.”

    Wow. And thanks for posting this. I still haven’t purchased chicks. I will find someone from the farmer’s market.

  8. Roger Gray says:

    And of course I meant to say “chicks” not just eggs . . . sigh.

  9. Tommy says:

    I’m confused—everyone is saying “go local” with the local chicken farmers—but aren’t they also faced with the same problem of a male chick? So instead of killing millions, they only have to sort out and kill a couple? Isn’t it the same issue, just on a smaller scale? I may be way-off, since I’m new to the whole chicken raising scene, but I’m trying to learn.
    Thanks,
    Tommy

  10. Cc says:

    When I raised chickens, I just ordered combo chicks. ( male and female) I estimated for the amount of females I wanted to end up with and butchered the extra males for food. Everything was done on our own property, and the chickens enjoyed a good life till the pot. …I also feed my chickens hen scratch, and let them run all day long. They got left overs from the house and most all of the time I gave them collabered milk, which they loved. There is so much a person can grow for their birds that it could be sustainable, if they choose to go that way. Mulberries, Amanranth, Honey Locust, Nankin cherry Sand cherry, Siberian Pea Shurb, Apple, currants, gooseberries, raspberry, peach, comfrey, any kind of pasture grasses, alfalfa, apricot, hairy vetch, crown vetch, siverian pea shrub, honeysuckle, mustard, and broccoli, and I’m sure I’m missing more. You could sprout veggies for them in winter. ..I use to buy alfalfa for my milk animals, and would throw some to the chickens in the winter. Then throw a little corn in the middle of the hay, and they would go nuts for it. Their egg production was very healthy and we always enjoyed healthy animals. The healthier they are, the healthier we are in return. Plus they are so happy this way. I always love to watch them working the ground for their food…. One year I was raising baby chicks outside, in a wooden box with a few holes in it. At night I would leave the light on for them for warmth. I just couldn’t figure out why they slept so much during the day, until I went out one night in the pitch black of the night. There were my baby chicks making such a noise, upon closer obverservation, they were getting the work out of their lives! They were running around and jumping up to catch the moths that were flying in to get to the light. Man we had a laugh on that one. Not very many moths that year at the house! Love this site. C

  11. annemarie says:

    We breed our own chicks, but you need a rooster to do that. and that’s the problem when you live in the city; not everybody appreciates their wake-up calls! But it is a pleasure to observe the proces. We put the little roosters in a separate house until they are grown and ready to be grilled. Until that time, they have a good life! And we get the best eggs you ever tasted!

  12. Robert Lindsay says:

    This make me so sick. I am a man of a few words with a strong military background, and this kind of cruelty still makes me ill. May God have mercy on these workers souls……..

  13. Amber says:

    I have been vegan for 9 years, worked with chickens extensively at a farmed animal sanctuary, and have been growing more and more of my own food as I learn about peak oil etc.
    My biggest personal issues with ‘backyard flocks’ are also my biggest issues with the large farms(whether they be battery cages, ‘free range’ or organic. They are: the sourcing of the chicks(especially the fate of the males) and the issue of spent hens(hens whose productivity slips below profit-making and/or cost of input food levels)
    The only personally ethical backyard hen situation I can come up with is a major problem for urban homesteaders because it involves roughly one rooster for every laying hen(noise, fights) as well as ethically sourced laying hens. Ethically sourced for me means rescued, which means finding a factory farm who will allow you to rescue some of their ‘spent hens’ before slaughter(a short film/blog about spent hens rescued from a ‘free range’ facility in Colorado can be found here: http://peacefulprairie.blogspot.com/2007/11/faces-of-free-range-farming.html
    Those lucky Brits even have an organized rescue/adoption group! http://www.bhwt.org.uk/index.php
    These rescued birds lay so many eggs due to genetic manipulation, the loss of nutrients taxes their bodies. At the farmed animal sanctuary I worked on, we fed them back their eggs to regain much needed calcium and other nutrition. This would obviously make less eggs available to the homesteader.

    These are a sample of the tumble of issues I cannot get into in a short blog comment, so to sum it up: I have not found an ethical system that I can justify to myself, and thus, I remain vegan.

    Any well-thought out thoughts?

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