Editor, The News:
Re: Pitt Meadows asked to allow backyard hens (The News, April 18).
As a veterinarian, and as an advocate for healthy living, I fully support people taking control of their own food supply and raising your own chickens for eggs and meat.
However, I do have concerns regarding health and welfare regarding back yard chickens.
Over the years I have seen fads in animal rearing take hold. Be it pot bellied pigs, 200-pounds of pork in someone’s living room, or 20-foot snakes being kept in cages meant for animals half their size, often when the novelty of these animals wears off, these animals are abandoned and/or neglected.
Before you go and buy some chickens to provide eggs, keep a few things in mind.
Chickens live longer then you think.
I have one client whose chicken is 15 years old.
While some still produce lots off eggs for many years, most will only produce eggs cost effectively for three to five years.
After that, your choice is to slaughter them for meat, or keep them as an ongoing cost – as a pet.
If your chicken gets sick, your choice is to humanely destroy or seek veterinary care.
Costs the same for me to fix your chicken, as to fix your dog.
Are you willing to spend $60 for an exam, or several hundred dollars for a broken wing?
Home grown is not necessarily healthier. E. coli, salmonella, and some parasitic worms can contaminate the eggs of home-grown eggs.
There is a reason we have whole institutions dedicated to insuring the safety of our food supply, and you are doing everything to bypass those safety measures.
If you are willing to take on the responsibility for the care of these animals, to treat them humanely, and accept responsibility for their care, then this can be a worthwhile endeavor.
If you think it is cool, or a fad, then please support your local organic farmer rather then subject a chicken to the whims what is the latest gastronomical fashion.
Dr. Adrian Walton