Although it’s annoying to neighbors – and even illegal in many metro areas – more and more Americans are turning to raising their own flocks of chickens right in their backyards. They do this for several reasons, but the majority cite things like food safety concerns, money savings, and even more humane treatment of animals as the primary driving forces behind their desires to farm their own food.
Many urban farmers claim that they made the switch to raising their own chickens amidst concerns about their health. Commercially-farmed chickens are often fed antibiotics and growth hormone so they can be raised quickly, thus satisfying the worldwide demand for poultry. Although the USDA and FDA alike claim that such treatments are safe (and in some cases, necessary), consumers are beginning to wonder whether these hormones and antibiotics are causing health issues. It’s a matter of being safe rather than sorry in cases like these since urban farmers can raise their chickens organically.
If you walk into a grocery store right now to buy a whole chicken that’s roughly four to five pounds, you’ll pay somewhere around the $7 to $8 mark for a semi-prepared, commercially-farmed chicken – and you’ll pay more for a free range, organic chicken. Conversely, it’s possible to buy chicks in farm stores for about a dollar each, and even after factoring in the cost of feed, as well as the initial investment in equipment, it’s cheaper for many people to raise their own chickens. They can also get a hefty supply of eggs, too.
Humane Animal Treatment
Commercially-farmed chickens don’t really enjoy life. They’re crammed into small pens, where they spend most of their lives, and many never see the light of day. For some urban farmers, the idea that their food lived a depressing and meager life before it wound up in the oven is too much for them to bear. Many of these farmers raise their chickens and treat them as pets until they day they become the family’s meal. They also claim that raising their own food provides a sense of satisfaction in knowing they’re doing the right thing.
Better Quality Meat
Believe it or not, the chicken you buy in the grocery store tastes very little like chicken the way it used to be, long before commercial farming. Chicken has a very distinct and slightly gamey flavor that is lost when these animals are forced to grow very quickly on a bland, commercial diet. Urban farmers find that by feeding their chickens a wider variety of healthier foods, they raise animals with more flavor, more natural fat, and less of the stringy texture that is common among commercially-sold poultry.
Urban farming is the trend, and although many cities have banned the practice, their residents are pleading with city officials to rethink these laws. After all, what better way to complement a backyard garden than with a few chickens? They provide eggs, control pests, and provide a healthy, nutritious meal.