Without a Rooster: The Urban Chicken Movement

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Urbane Chicken movement claims to be about “the right to grow food” and “sustainability”.

To that, I say: Pfffth!

Calgary Food Policy Council: 2010 Local Food & Urban Ag Predictions for Calgary.

New Chicks, some of which are boys.

Sustainable? Sure,…. I’ll buy that. We have a bunch of people keeping a bunch of hens for eggs. Sounds good so far. Of course, most cities where this is being allowed or proposed the by-laws allow for some small number of HENS only. The argument is that this is somehow sustainable.

Rooster

Rooster

But, hey, never mind that someone ELSE has to raise chickens – including the roosters – in order to provide these people with chicks. Never mind that someone ELSE has to deal with the unwanted roosters – remember that roughly 50% of the chicks hatched are going to be male. The majority of urban chicken ‘farmers’ don’t even want to THINK about butchering chickens, let alone do it themselves. No sirreee – let’s ignore that part of the picture – it isn’t fun and doesn’t fit in with the ‘my chickens are wonderful, loving creatures who give me eggs’ view.

Right to Food [The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, has the physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement] – Eggs in the store aren’t as good as free range eggs, but they are NOT ‘bad’. So, this is not about access to safe, adequate food. It is about the difference between regular and premium. The philosophy behind the UN right to food initiative is to ensure people do not starve, not to ensure they have access to caviar.

Food security [to ensure secure access to adequate amounts of safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate food for everyone, produced in an environmentally sustainable way and provided in a manner that promotes human dignity]– Yes it is true that a hen will help keep the bugs down in your garden. She will also help herself to your newest green shoots and some of your other produce, so she can only be in the garden at certain times. If you let her in the garden too soon she will scratch up your seeds and eat them before they even start. Yes it is true that she produces fertilizer-grade manure, AND she will eat some of your kitchen scraps. Along with her fertilizer she has various talents that may be enough to justify allowing people to keep a few hens. BUT Let’s not get too bombastic about all this. It is NOT about food security or the right not to starve. Really, all we’ve accomplished with keeping hens is to move the dial a few notches. Without the ability to breed and hatch your own hens, you are still dependent on someone else for your eggs – only now instead having to buy the eggs, you will have to buy the chicks. You can’t do anything to help preserve heritage breeds without a rooster.

You are still an ‘end-point’ consumer.

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