Vegans: what if you raise the chickens yourselves? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-11-2014, 02:47 PM
 
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Hi, I've been an on-again-off-again vegetarian for several years and am now making the transition to becoming vegan, so I apologize for my lack of knowledge on the subject. This is all new terrain for me.

 

The reason why I'm posting is I was curious to know what vegans thought about egg consumption if you raised the chicken/s yourself. I've read a lot about rooftop/backyard farming and people keeping a chicken or two as pets (apparently they can live up to 10 years if you don't kill them for food). This isn't something I'm considering for myself but thought it was an interesting topic.

 

What do you think? Would you eat an egg if it came from a chicken you were humanely raising in your backyard?

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#2 Old 02-11-2014, 02:57 PM
 
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You are still ignoring one crucial fact..

You can't eat anything from animals that you keep (As pets or otherwise); By Definition vegans do not eat anything once living or non - living.

 

Leave the eggs alone and let the chickens eat them if no males are present to fertilize them; Females who lay eggs lose a great amount of calcium. Also if you take they're eggs your are making them malnourished.

 

Just leave them be and feed them. period 


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#3 Old 02-11-2014, 03:14 PM
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Vegans don't eat any animal products period so it wouldn't be vegan, however it would certainly be more ethical than buying eggs from chickens raised on factory farms or even so called 'humane' farms.

That being said though there are still a number of issues with raising backyard chickens that are quite a concern, for instance if you buy chicks from a breeder you can almost guarantee that those breeders are culling (aka killing) the male chicks they have no use for and by buying from them you are supporting that practice.

Many people also don't know how to adequately care for chickens and because raising your own chickens is now seen as trendy many of them end up being mistreated or abandoned in animal shelters.

Another thing to consider is that vegans don't believe in exploiting animals or seeing them as products at ALL, even if the animals are being treated well. We won't ever change the way humans view other species if we keep treating them as commodities rather than individuals.

There's an excellent article about the problems with raising backyard chickens here that does a better job of explaining it than I can: What’s Wrong with Backyard Eggs?

Basically it's a lot less cruel than confining egg laying hens to battery cages for their whole lives but there are still some serious ethical issues with it. It's far easier to just not eat eggs, I don't miss them at all since I learned how easy it is to bake without them.
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#4 Old 02-11-2014, 03:30 PM
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Everything Werewolf Girl said.

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#5 Old 02-11-2014, 07:46 PM
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Well, I guess by Werewolf Girl's standards, I might not be a vegan after all, since my position isn't that animals shouldn't be used but that they shouldn't be hurt unnecessarily. The points being raised by the article are mostly comparable to those that are associated with owning pets in general. It would also have the same potential benefit for animals as owning a pet, which is to say that living with a pet is generally what makes people sensible to their well-being in the first place. How many of you became veg without having ever owned a pet? This advantage could even be stronger for a chicken because if its usual association with animal farming. And I don't think it's wrong to raise an animal if we think it's gonna have a good life, even when there is a risk we could be wrong.

 

The only issue raised that gives me pause is the fact that males are being exterminated systematically.

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#6 Old 02-11-2014, 08:00 PM
 
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The much lesser of two evils, by far.

 

Though in order to produce chickens, male chicks are killed- so only rescue chickens would be an ethical source for them.

 

If I had the eggs, though, I wouldn't eat them- I would sell them to a neighbor for slightly less than eggs from a grocery store.  This would displace factory farmed eggs, and do some good.  And I'd put the money in a jar for feeding and caring for the chickens (particularly saving up for vet bills).

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#7 Old 02-11-2014, 08:03 PM
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Hmm yeah I assume the vet bills of a chicken might be quite expensive since factory farms don't bother. I guess you are gonna have to rely on a more generic bird vet.

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#8 Old 02-11-2014, 10:57 PM
 
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Hmm yeah I assume the vet bills of a chicken might be quite expensive since factory farms don't bother. I guess you are gonna have to rely on a more generic bird vet.

 

Budget about a dollar a day, as for a cat or dog.

 

And if you aren't killing them when egg production drops, then you'd be looking at about $3-$4 per egg on average.

 

If "cruelty-free" eggs aren't at least $50 per dozen on the store shelf, you can be pretty sure that they aren't really cruelty free.

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#9 Old 02-12-2014, 07:42 AM
 
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I think there are circumstances in which eating eggs are ethically permissible. For instance, people in poor, developing countries who have no resources or reasonable foundation for a vegan diet--these people often don't consume much animal protein to begin with, and for their families, having a chicken or two for eggs can mean the difference between malnourishment (esp for children) or having a steady source of protein. For that same reason I support Heifer International.   

 

In the US or other developing countries, however, we have so much access to healthy foods. We have overabundance of protein options. From an ethical standpoint there is no real reason to be eating chicken eggs.  

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#10 Old 02-12-2014, 09:09 AM
 
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Lots of people round my area keep rescue hens and sell the eggs. I first decided to become Ovo-vegetarian and consume the eggs but then I decided against it. Purely on the base that it's unnecessary for me to consume them. Some one else can make a more ethical choice and eat them instead of battery farmed eggs. 

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#11 Old 02-12-2014, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Werewolf Girl View Post

Vegans don't eat any animal products period so it wouldn't be vegan, however it would certainly be more ethical than buying eggs from chickens raised on factory farms or even so called 'humane' farms.

That being said though there are still a number of issues with raising backyard chickens that are quite a concern, for instance if you buy chicks from a breeder you can almost guarantee that those breeders are culling (aka killing) the male chicks they have no use for and by buying from them you are supporting that practice.

Many people also don't know how to adequately care for chickens and because raising your own chickens is now seen as trendy many of them end up being mistreated or abandoned in animal shelters.

Another thing to consider is that vegans don't believe in exploiting animals or seeing them as products at ALL, even if the animals are being treated well. We won't ever change the way humans view other species if we keep treating them as commodities rather than individuals.

There's an excellent article about the problems with raising backyard chickens here that does a better job of explaining it than I can: What’s Wrong with Backyard Eggs?

Basically it's a lot less cruel than confining egg laying hens to battery cages for their whole lives but there are still some serious ethical issues with it. It's far easier to just not eat eggs, I don't miss them at all since I learned how easy it is to bake without them.

 

ALL OF THIS.... 

 

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Well, I guess by Werewolf Girl's standards, I might not be a vegan after all, since my position isn't that animals shouldn't be used but that they shouldn't be hurt unnecessarily. The points being raised by the article are mostly comparable to those that are associated with owning pets in general. It would also have the same potential benefit for animals as owning a pet, which is to say that living with a pet is generally what makes people sensible to their well-being in the first place. How many of you became veg without having ever owned a pet? This advantage could even be stronger for a chicken because if its usual association with animal farming. And I don't think it's wrong to raise an animal if we think it's gonna have a good life, even when there is a risk we could be wrong.

 

The only issue raised that gives me pause is the fact that males are being exterminated systematically.

If you don't eat or use animal products, then you're vegan IMO. I don't dwell on reasoning much. 

 

As to the pet issue, maybe owning a rescue chicken would compare. There are a TON of chickens floating homeless around PDX because people are huge on homesteading here but then realize it's a lot of work, ditch the chickens and that sucks. Here we actually have lots of rescue chickens - kind of like shelter pets. The fact you bring up about males being killed is what makes me think having chickens is a bad idea, even if you're not eating the eggs you are contributing to an industry that does lots of harm. 

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#12 Old 02-15-2014, 07:39 PM
 
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The right of procreation is a fundamental right for all beings. The production of unfertilized eggs denies hens of this basic right since they must be denied access to a rooster.... which to me makes the notion of "humane" eggs a total fallacy.

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#13 Old 02-15-2014, 07:43 PM
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It's not exactly a "right" of anything...
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#14 Old 02-15-2014, 07:48 PM
 
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The right of procreation is a fundamental right for all beings. The production of unfertilized eggs denies hens of this basic right since they must be denied access to a rooster.... which to me makes the notion of "humane" eggs a total fallacy.

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It's not exactly a "right" of anything...

 

 

Yeah, I think I'm with River on this one.

 

Preventing animals from procreating it's exactly an big imposition, and considering that it is practically necessary (particularly with animal populations exploding- stray dogs and cats, or deer, mice, etc.) to avoid having to cull.

 

The worse of the two would be allowing them unchecked reproduction.

 

The bigger issue is their treatment and deaths, and the resources wasted on the process (that it is not an efficient food source).  Stopping them from reproducing isn't even on the radar.

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#15 Old 02-15-2014, 08:52 PM
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I wouldn't because eating another creatures unfertilized egg is creepy to me. like drinking another creatures milk....   

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#16 Old 02-16-2014, 03:25 AM
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This question pretty much goes round in circles (which came first, the chicken or the ethical egg debate? haha).  

 

Here's just a few of the other threads about it:

 

https://www.veggieboards.com/t/109044/are-eggs-ethical

 

https://www.veggieboards.com/t/143276/1-month-into-veganism-and-i-gotta-ask-why-not-eggs

 

https://www.veggieboards.com/t/141363/ethics-of-eggs-possibly-controversial

 

https://www.veggieboards.com/t/47389/is-there-such-a-thing-as-ethical-eggs-dairy

 

https://www.veggieboards.com/t/110560/cage-free-ethical-eggs

 

It's easy to see that dairy is not ethical but it gets a bit more blurry when it's eggs from rescue hens.  Unlike cows, chickens will continue to produce eggs without human intervention so there are slightly different ethical arguments.  Personally I think it's okay for a vegetarian to care for rescue chickens and to share their eggs - it's certainly better than buying factory farmed products.

 

Plenty more threads here:

 

https://www.veggieboards.com/newsearch?search=ethic+eggs

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#17 Old 02-16-2014, 03:38 AM
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The right of procreation is a fundamental right for all beings. The production of unfertilized eggs denies hens of this basic right since they must be denied access to a rooster.... which to me makes the notion of "humane" eggs a total fallacy.

It's not even a right we recognize for human beings. If a man wants to have children but no woman wants to have children with him then he can't have any under the law.

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#18 Old 02-16-2014, 04:11 AM
 
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It's not even a right we recognize for human beings. If a man wants to have children but no woman wants to have children with him then he can't have any under the law.

 

Good point!  And the same in reverse (although, the reverse case might be less common).

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#19 Old 02-16-2014, 05:55 AM
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I think it's worth mentioning that if you froze eggs, or hens layed their eggs into cool boxes, the eggs wouldn't develop even if they had been fertilised by a rooster; this would mean being able to keep both hens and roosters together whilst still being able to eat the eggs.

 

Since chickens are bred for different characteristics (i.e. more eggs, bigger bodies), it might be hard finding someone who sells mixed genders and characteristics without selective mass killing, but this can be avoided by adopting chickens.

 

Calcium can be supplemented from calcium rich foods (sunflower seeds, spinch, etc) and ground oyster shells.

 

I don't believe maltreatment, whist being majorly important, is the best reason against keeping chickens: anyone can have a human child and mistreat them, just as anyone can buy a pet and mistreat them, but that doesn't mean we oughtn't have children or pets. Maltreatment often results from lack of responsibility (resulting in neglect, abandonment, etc) and lack of compassion (resulting in abuse) towards those at our mercy, but this isn't just confined to those whom we 'own' (children and pets) and is probably part of a much wider issue.


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#20 Old 02-16-2014, 06:33 AM
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With my vegetarian hat on I don't see an issue with eating the eggs of your own, well-loved rescue hens but I would look to barter the eggs rather than sell them.  You could swap eggs for things that will enrich the life of your hens but that you couldn't afford otherwise.  For example, eggs swapped for timber/chicken wire to extend their run giving them a better quality of life.  Even better would be swapping eggs for labour, helping to care for the chickens.  If it's an omnivore then perhaps they will do some joined-up thinking around chicken = endearing, rather than chicken = food.  The basics (food, adequate shelter, vets fees) should be covered by the 'caretaker ', the same as any other pet.  If selling the eggs helps to rescue more chickens then I'm also okay with that.  I'd rather eggs were sold if it meant that 5 more chickens finally got the chance to scratch in the dirt and have a dust bath rather than end their life as trash in a slaughterhouse.  

 

With my vegan hat on I can see all the arguments about 'the eggs aren't ours to take' but if you have rescued a lot of chickens then what are you going to do with all those eggs?  The chickens won't eat all of them even if they are interested in them.  You can't leave them to rot or attract predators near the chickens.  If you 'give them back to nature' there are a number of considerations.  First of all you have to distribute them outside the natural territory of any egg eating animals where you live ~ that might be quite a distance in some cases.  On top of that you will need to vary the places you leave them so that you do not create a dependency on a known feeding place.  Leaving too many eggs within a relatively small area will upset the natural predation in the area if lots of large, easily available protein sources are being left on a regular basis.  Taking all the above into account you would have to have at least an hour a day put aside for playing a hippy Easter Bunny, more if you have a large amount of eggs!

 

 

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#21 Old 02-16-2014, 06:54 AM
 
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I think it's worth mentioning that if you froze eggs, or hens layed their eggs into cool boxes, the eggs wouldn't develop even if they had been fertilised by a rooster; this would mean being able to keep both hens and roosters together whilst still being able to eat the eggs.

 

Since chickens are bred for different characteristics (i.e. more eggs, bigger bodies), it might be hard finding someone who sells mixed genders and characteristics without selective mass killing, but this can be avoided by adopting chickens.

 

Calcium can be supplemented from calcium rich foods (sunflower seeds, spinch, etc) and ground oyster shells.

 

I don't believe maltreatment, whist being majorly important, is the best reason against keeping chickens: anyone can have a human child and mistreat them, just as anyone can buy a pet and mistreat them, but that doesn't mean we oughtn't have children or pets. Maltreatment often results from lack of responsibility (resulting in neglect, abandonment, etc) and lack of compassion (resulting in abuse) towards those at our mercy, but this isn't just confined to those whom we 'own' (children and pets) and is probably part of a much wider issue.

 

Good points.

 

But human children serve the undeniable purpose of perpetuating the human species, and our own genes- which chickens do not.

 

And pets such as cats and dogs are used primarily to provide emotional companionship and support- which is proven to improve mood and reduce depression.  It's clinically significant.

 

I love chickens, but they're not optimal pets.  Chickens aren't efficient at doing those things for us- so if we kept them, it would be for the completely unnecessary and inefficient practice of converting feed into eggs.

 

If there's a good chance of abuse happening, and there's nothing really to gain, it raises the question of whether it's a good practice at all.

 

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The basics (food, adequate shelter, vets fees) should be covered by the 'caretaker ', the same as any other pet.  If selling the eggs helps to rescue more chickens then I'm also okay with that.

 

But covering those expenses does allow for rescuing more chickens- it makes the very practice economically more feasible.  Chicken food alone is expensive.  I can say I doubt I would adopt the first rescue chicken if I didn't know egg sales could help subsidize the feed and vet bills.

 

I just think we shouldn't make a net profit on the animal.  Any extra should go towards improving the conditions, or in a jar for their retirement fund.  They're working for their own sakes- not for ours.

 

I don't know if we should be breeding them at all, but letting them help us afford giving them the ability to live out their lives (which makes adopting more practical) seems reasonable.

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#22 Old 02-16-2014, 07:40 AM
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But covering those expenses does allow for rescuing more chickens- it makes the very practice economically more feasible.  Chicken food alone is expensive.  I can say I doubt I would adopt the first rescue chicken if I didn't know egg sales could help subsidize the feed and vet bills.

 

I just think we shouldn't make a net profit on the animal.  Any extra should go towards improving the conditions, or in a jar for their retirement fund.  They're working for their own sakes- not for ours.

 

I don't know if we should be breeding them at all, but letting them help us afford giving them the ability to live out their lives (which makes adopting more practical) seems reasonable.

 

I kind of contradicted myself with the selling eggs comment, I think I know what I meant?!  Basically you should have enough savings/income to ensure that you can care for the chickens even if they never lay another egg in their lives.  Selling the excess eggs could give you the income to adopt additional chickens but being careful not to overstretch yourself.

 

Definitely shouldn't be breeding them, far too many 'spent' hens entering the food chain as it is.  The ideal would be when there are no more hens to rescue as there is no longer an egg trade to rescue them from.

 

I want rescue hens.  I have no idea what I would do with the eggs to be honest ~ every time the egg debate arise I shift my position slightly!  The one thing that stays constant is that, as a vegan, I obviously wouldn't consume them.

 

Edited to add (cos I forgot):

 

We will only ever know what chickens think about the use of their eggs if they find a way to communicate that.  Even if we had the means of communication who's to say that chickens would be altruistic about their eggs and not introduce other ethical dilemmas.  For example:

 

Me:   ''Dear rescued hen, please can I use your eggs to sell and help others like you to finally enjoy freedom?"

 

Hen: ''Erm, no.  I don't want to mess with the pecking order and I especially don't want to share my slugs.  You could get me some dead mice with the money though''

 

I did say that the eggs could be used to improve the conditions for the birds.  I don't necessarily think they should contribute to their retirement fund though.  If you adopt a rescue cat or dog you don't ask the same of them so why regard pet chickens any differently.

 

(apologies for my inconsistency with using the words hen and chicken btw)

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#23 Old 02-16-2014, 10:26 AM
 
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Quiet-Vegan, have you read Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful Chicken-Friendly Yard by Jessi Bloom? It's been on my booklist for a while and I just got it the other day and have cracked it a few times to browse in certain sections but not a whole read through. The pictures are gorgeous. We're in an area right now where we wouldn't be able to keep chickens but the 5 year plan for us is to buy some acreage outside town and a set-up like the book outlines with some rescue hens would be my absolute dream.
But you could always keep males if you weren't interested in eggs and could handle the noise lol there are tons of beautiful boys in rescue and its hard for them to find happy homes. 
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#24 Old 02-16-2014, 11:17 AM
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I hadn't heard of that book but I just took a peek using the Amazon preview facility; it looks pretty good.  At the moment I don't really have room for chooks but I'm hoping that in the future I'll be in a position to offer homes to some.

 

Roosters would have to come with very good earplugs as I'm really not a morning person.  You'd definitely need a rural location too unless you wanted to upset the neighbours!

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#25 Old 02-16-2014, 01:45 PM
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I hadn't heard of that book but I just took a peek using the Amazon preview facility; it looks pretty good.  At the moment I don't really have room for chooks but I'm hoping that in the future I'll be in a position to offer homes to some.

 

Roosters would have to come with very good earplugs as I'm really not a morning person.  You'd definitely need a rural location too unless you wanted to upset the neighbours!

Roosters are very competitive creatures. They don't care for living with other roosters.

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#26 Old 02-16-2014, 02:18 PM
 
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Roosters are very competitive creatures. They don't care for living with other roosters.

 

That depends. For sure roosters are typically more aggressive than hens but if roosters are raised together it isn't uncommon for them to bond, especially for certain breeds. Once they begin to reach maturity sometimes squabbles can erupt that necessitate separating them but it's not uncommon for some to get along as buddies for lifespans, kinda similar to bonded tomcats. That being said if they have to be separated for whatever reason (illness etc) they have to be reintroduced slowly, again, not unlike tomcats. Generally it's much easier to keep roosters together without hens though.

 

Though the roosters you see in rescue tend to be more aggressive, having either been from highly stressful situations where they felt the need to aggressively protect their hens, or having been socialized and condition to fight each other (ie cockfighting) but you can still find a good number of bonded roosters in rescue. 

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#27 Old 02-16-2014, 10:31 PM
 
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I kind of contradicted myself with the selling eggs comment, I think I know what I meant?!  Basically you should have enough savings/income to ensure that you can care for the chickens even if they never lay another egg in their lives.  Selling the excess eggs could give you the income to adopt additional chickens but being careful not to overstretch yourself.

 

 

I don't think that would be possible- caring for chickens is too expensive.  You'd be lucky to get a high enough price from the eggs to cover the feed and vet bills for one chicken's natural life (after they stop laying).

 

I think selling the eggs just makes it financially viable to adopt chickens.

 

 

Quote:
I did say that the eggs could be used to improve the conditions for the birds.  I don't necessarily think they should contribute to their retirement fund though.  If you adopt a rescue cat or dog you don't ask the same of them so why regard pet chickens any differently.

 

We adopt chickens for their sake.  We're really not going to get a lot from the relationship.

 

A dog can serve as a security system, a cat can control pest populations- and both offer arguably superior companionship compared to a chicken (neither dogs nor cats will poop in your lap, at least).

 

 

That said, a chicken may contribute to pest control in a garden, and in that sense may have added value as an adoption.

 

I'm all for helping animals, but it's hard to make a good argument for doing it if it's going to put you in the poor house: and I think it's important for the animals that commonly accepted practice doesn't do that.

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#28 Old 02-17-2014, 12:42 AM
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We adopt chickens for their sake.  We're really not going to get a lot from the relationship.

 

You've opened yourself up to a whole world of hurt with that comment, lol.  I know people who would argue that chooks are just as good pets as cats and dogs, if not better.  

 

I'd probably choose a hen over a dog as I really don't like the smell of dog, it makes me gag and dog spittle makes me heave.  Add to that the fact that I would never trust any dog 100%, having been bitten in the face when I was younger.  I think that if you genuinely love chickens then you can get a lot out of the relationship ~ I think they are hilarious, I could watch them all day!  Just because you see them as a 'lesser' type of pet it doesn't mean that everyone feels the same way.

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#29 Old 02-17-2014, 12:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Quiet-Vegan View Post
 

 

You've opened yourself up to a whole world of hurt with that comment, lol.  I know people who would argue that chooks are just as good pets as cats and dogs, if not better.  

 

I'd probably choose a hen over a dog as I really don't like the smell of dog, it makes me gag and dog spittle makes me heave.  Add to that the fact that I would never trust any dog 100%, having been bitten in the face when I was younger.  I think that if you genuinely love chickens then you can get a lot out of the relationship ~ I think they are hilarious, I could watch them all day!  Just because you see them as a 'lesser' type of pet it doesn't mean that everyone feels the same way.

 

I haven't heard arguments that chickens make better pets than cats or dogs (except the "they give us eggs" argument).  I'd be totally open to it though ^_^

 

To my knowledge, they need to wear diapers if in the house, as I've never heard of one being potty trained.  That's just another thing you have to deal with, with a free roaming bird inside.

 

I'd be keen on hearing if they could be easily potty trained, though, that would be awesome, and would bump chickens way up on my list of desirable pets.

 

Generally speaking, and I can speak for most people in the world, I don't like to keep free pooping animals inside, and diapers aren't exactly a responsibility I want long-term.

 

 

The danger aspect of cats and dogs IS an excellent point.  A dog or cat bite is a very serious risk, particularly from older rescue animals who have had tough lives.

 

Not all dogs are slobbery.  Cats are very low-slobber creatures in general (one good reason many people prefer cats over dogs).

 

Dogs don't stink if you bathe them and take care of the breath situation.  Of course, that's a lot of work too (just as diapers are for chickens, so it may be a "choose your poison" kind of thing).

 

Cats are probably the lowest maintenance, but biting and scratching (as well as against furniture) are serious concerns (particularly if they don't get outside).

 

Chickens are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them too, to an extent; but then, so are cats and dogs in play- and the latter interact with humans much more in play than I've seen chickens do (although I admit there may be a whole domain of chicken play behavior that is unknown to me).

 

 

We might need a spreadsheet to compare everything.  But the poop issue is a pretty big one for most people.

 

 

 

EDIT:

 

Here's an article about potty-training birds:

http://birds.about.com/od/behaviorandtraining/a/pottytraining.htm

It is by far no easy task

I have found some articles on training a chicken to poop on command, and they use a similar method.  Although I've found nobody advocating that it's as useful or easy as dog/cat potty training.

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#30 Old 02-17-2014, 01:32 AM
 
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Location: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
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Chickens do make interesting pets. When I was a little kid, my gran had a flock of back yard bantam chickens (and roosters) that pretty much ran wild and did what they pleased. One night a stray cat killed a mother hen, leaving behind an orphaned day-old chick. My aunt raised the chick by hand and man, did that thing have a quirky personality! It honestly seemed to think it was a human. Lived for around ten years if I remember correctly, before a peaceful death of old age.


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