The business model described in “Chicken rentals bring the farm to your door” (Nov. 27 Saanich News) leaves me with a feeling of unease.
Based on what I have read, a hen’s egg production peaks at around the third year of life but the hen itself has a natural lifespan of around seven or more years. Since the company will obviously want to rent out hens in the peak production phase of their lifecycle in order to ensure customer satisfaction, I am curious to know about the fate of those hens that have passed peak production. Are they sent to a retirement home to happily live out the rest of their lives, or are they sent to the slaughterhouse en route to the dinner table?
To me, this chicken rental business is a reflection of our current indulgent, throwaway consumer culture. Folks rent some hens for the summer to feel fuzzy good about themselves. They don’t have to worry about the unpleasant aspects of chicken husbandry as these are taken care of by paid honchos (company).
This business model does not teach us anything about the humane responsibility that comes with keeping backyard chickens. If we want to keep urban backyard chickens, we should be prepared to keep them for life, or face up to the harsh reality of seeing them slaughtered for food. Otherwise, let’s just support those of our local farmers who produce free-range eggs in humane farms.