A lot of the work I do in my community up here in the Pacific Northwest focuses on welfare for chickens. Each time I teach a class, I try to bring this subject in. It’s my belief that no matter how and why you choose to raise chickens, their welfare is an important piece of the work. After all, chickens have given humans so much. We kinda owe them, at the very least, a decent quality of life. This is why I love Critter Camp.
One of my best audiences is at the Whatcom Humane Society’s Critter Camp for kids. It’s definitely my favorite class. Mostly because it’s so encouraging to see young people so interested in animal welfare, and it’s good to know that they will go out and share what they’ve learned with the grown-ups in their lives. Oh, and did I mention that I get to meet lots of critters as well?
Did you know that the symbiotic relationship between humans and chickens has existed for millennia? It’s true, we’ve been in this chicken game for quite a long time. Over the years and across different cultures, chicken keeping varies in practice, but one thing for sure is that the use of factory farms is very new. No culture has it as part of their tradition. I’m not a fan.
It’s because of this that I have a saying: everyone belongs in Chickenlandia. What I mean is, everyone deserves to enjoy chickens (and beyond, but I’ll talk about that later). The more people who feel included and embraced in chicken keeping communities across the world, the more chickens are kept out of factory farms. That’s a win in my book.
Maybe you’ve been in a conversation like this: you’re on social media innocently mentioning how you like to free range your chickens, when someone jumps on you for endangering their lives to predators. It’s true, those who free range need to be aware that predators can and probably will happen. What I’ve heard from many free rangers is that they either can’t afford to put up a large run or their focus is on quality of life, and I support them. I also support those chicken keepers who just can’t bare to lose a chicken and so keep their flock in an enclosed run. And yes, I’ve witnessed them get raked through the coals for “jailing their birds”. *sigh*
It’s also so important to remember that not all people can afford to keep chickens in the same way. I have a very nice coop and run, but when my mother was a child in Guatemala, all her chickens slept in the trees. In fact, I imagine many people across the globe and even here in the United States do it this way. The fact that chickens will naturally come home to roost and can be fed so sustainably is why they’re such an accessible resource. I recently viewed a YouTube video about keeping chickens in a very cost effective way and I really liked it. The link is listed below.
So, if anyone has every made you feel alienated from the chicken keeping community, fret not. You will always be welcome in Chickenlandia. Do your chicken thing and don’t listen to the haters! Here’s a new video on Chickenlandia’s new YouTube channel about our recent “Chicken Hunt”, with a little bit about Chickenlandia’s inclusiveness sprinkled in as well. Hope you’ll give it a look-see: