Backyard hens dumped by ‘hipster farmers’

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You’ve heard of city folks dumping unwanted dogs and cats, but NBC reports that animal shelters and rescue organizations are receiving abandoned backyard chickens, sometimes dozens at a time.

“Hipster farmers” are finding that rather than being a free source of eggs, raising chickens can be messy, labour intensive and expensive, the story says.

Susie Coston, national shelter director at the Farm Sanctuary based in Watkins Glen, New York, said about 250 abandoned backyard birds are waiting for homes at the shelter’s three sites on both coasts. They’re among at least 400 to 500 abandoned chickens that show up every year, including many suffering from maltreatment or illness.

“They’re put on Craigslist all the time when they don’t lay anymore,” Coston told NBC.

At the Chicken Run Rescue in Minneapolis, Minn., owner Mary Britton Clouse said surrendered birds have increased from fewer than 50 in 2001 to nearly 500 in 2012.

The story notes that would-be urban farmers don’t realize that hens can quit laying after about two years, but can live for several years after. And since baby chicks are hard to sex, they sometimes find they have roosters, which are not popular with the neighbours.

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