Category Archives: Backyard livestock

Urban animal agriculture, such as backyard chickens, ducks, goats, and rabbits

The Modern Savage — review

The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, by James McWilliams. Thomas Dunne Books, 2015.

Industrialized animal agriculture is morally and intellectually bankrupt. Society is slowly but increasingly becoming aware of the cruel, unnatural, and environmentally harmful aspects of factory farms. But what is going to replace it?

Well-known food intellectuals such as Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Joel Salatin, and Jonathan Safran Foer have advocated returning to localized, more traditional ways of raising animals. Encouraged by some environmentalists and even some animal welfare supporters, nonindustrial animal agriculture has grown tremendously in the past decade. Continue reading

The basic argument against backyard chicken ordinances

NOTE: this is the basic argument against city ordinances allowing backyard chickens, though obviously you could apply the same arguments to one’s personal decision to keep chickens.

The basic argument against backyard chickens is that allowing this practice creates an entirely new category of urban animal: an animal which may be routinely mistreated in a domestic urban environment.

This is not to say that most people who keep backyard chickens mistreat them. In fact, many consider their hens to be “pets” and will keep them even after they cease being “useful.” But this is not what the promoters of backyard livestock agriculture have in mind. They are promoting backyard livestock as a practical way to obtain food, namely, eggs and meat. Continue reading

More Problems With Abandoned Backyard Chickens

When I protested against the proposal to encourage backyard chickens in Denver two years ago, one of the questions I asked was “What do you think is going to happen when owners get roosters from hatcheries? Chicks are hard to sex, and ‘mistakes’ may not be evident until the chickens are six months old.” Most cities which allow backyard chickens (including Denver) allow hens but prohibit roosters.

Well, guess what! We now know the answer to this question, at least for Denver. They will be dumped at animal sanctuaries or at local animal shelters. Continue reading

The Normalization of Cruelty (continued)

Michael Pollan, while celebrating the virtues of keeping backyard chickens, recently made a comment that chickens are “nasty and stupid” — and therefore, it sounds like, more deserving of being killed.  Karen Davis, founder of United Poultry Concerns, incisively responded, “Even if chickens manipulated for meat production were stupid, blaming them for their defenseless predicament is cruel.”

There is another important point to be made, though, and that is the effect of killing chickens on Michael Pollan himself. Continue reading

Slaughter as Art — update

UPDATE Feb. 29: the “slaughter for art” project has been cancelled. Local activist Judy Carman met with Amber Hansen (the artist), her partner Nicholas, and KU professor Elizabeth Schultz on Monday. Amber will still display the empty coop and there will be a public dialogue at the end of the project.

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There have been some new developments in the Spencer Museum’s proposal to slaughter five chickens as part of an art project in Lawrence, Kansas. Continue reading

Slaughter as Art

A beautiful creature

“The Story of Chickens — a Revolution” is an art project sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas.  The stated purpose of the project is “to transform the contemporary view of chickens as merely ‘livestock’ to the beautiful and unique creatures they are, while promoting alternative and healthy processes of caring for them.”  So far, so good!  This is something I might actually be able to get behind.

The kicker, though, comes at the end: the chickens will be publicly slaughtered, and then fed to participants at a potluck. Continue reading

On Raising Rabbits (review)

Comments by Nancy LaRoche on Chapter 13 “Raising Rabbits”
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading
By Sundari Elizabeth Kraft

Nancy LaRoche is the co-Manager of the Colorado House Rabbit Society

First I must state that I adore rabbits for their personalities, intelligence, compassion for other rabbits and smaller creatures, their affection for those to whom they bond, and the pleasure they have given me over the years, living in my home as house-rabbits.  Obviously, then, I cannot condone exploiting them by taking their lives to provide a meal of flesh.  But both they and we benefit when we use their wonderful fertilizer or their wool. Continue reading

Rules and Regulations Governing Food Producing Animals


The ordinance on “food producing animals” (chickens, ducks, and goats) in Denver was passed last June.  What follows below is the statement I submitted to the Board of Environmental Health on the proposed rules and regulations.  You can read the proposed rules here (PDF). Continue reading

Akers, the Chicken

In case you don’t already know, the Denver “Food Producing Animals” ordinance passed at the Denver City Council on June 20 by a vote of 7 – 3. This is actually closer than it sounds, because there are 13 members of the Denver City Council and to pass this ordinance required an absolute majority of all members, not just a majority of those present. If just one of the “for” votes had been changed, the ordinance would have failed. Continue reading

HSUS Letter to Denver City Council on the FPA Ordinance


I have just received a PDF copy of a letter the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sent to Denver City Council concerning the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance.  Read the whole thing (PDF document) here.

The letter raises a number of interesting points, some of which have not been publicly expressed so far in the discussion.  Continue reading

Next Door to Livestock — Another Neighbor’s Reaction



Sundari Kraft is the most visible proponent of the proposed “Food Producing Animals” ordinance which would drastically reduce the limitations on backyard chickens, ducks, and goats.  Earlier I reported that one of her neighbors, Roseanne Jelacic, has written to City Council objecting to the ordinance based on her own experience with Sundari as a neighbor.  Now, it turns out, another of Sundari’s neighbors, Lynn Herwick, has done the same thing some days ago.  Continue reading


Casualties of Backyard Livestock Agriculture


Figuring out how to live with a pet can be a challenging experience, just because animals are different from humans. Even in the case of dogs and cats, which are common enough in our society so that knowledge of their care is very widespread, figuring out their proper care is not trivial. But dealing with a new kind of animal, like chickens and goats, can be a major challenge. If you try to spread the acceptance and adoption of this kind of animal, a lot of people are going to get it wrong. Continue reading

Seattle’s Experience with Backyard Chickens


Backyard livestock supporters often tout the success of other cities who have allowed backyard chickens or goats. Seattle is often held up as just such a success. But is it?

If you just talked to city officials, that might be the impression you get. So I talked to Tiffany Young, a member of the Duck Rescue Network and backyard fowl rescuer. Continue reading