Do You Know What it Takes to Raise Chickens at Home? Many Would-Be Farmers Don't

As foodies realize what really goes into raising chickens for eggs, they're abandoning hundreds of animals around the country

It's a trend we can get behind: raising backyard chickens for humanely gotten eggs at the ready. Who wouldn't want fresh, locally sourced — not to mention cheap — food right from their own home?

Lots of other people love the idea too, lately, as the movement has exploded. But many have failed to think it through before taking the plunge, and now hundreds of chickens are being neglected and abandoned at shelters around the country every year as people give up on their backyard projects when they learn the real responsibility chickens require — along with the realities of their egg-providing life cycle.

Hens lay eggs for just two years, but can live for 10 years beyond that, according to a report by NBC News that identifies the growing abandonment problem. And further, raising the animals is hard work, requiring money, patience, and tolerance for noise and odor. Shelters and sanctuaries report a major problem as badly informed would-be farmers throw in the towel.

Minneapolis' Chicken Run Rescue owner Mary Britton Clouse told NBC News her group got about 500 birds last year, 10 times more than a decade ago. “People don’t know what they’re doing,” she told NBC. “And you’ve got this whole culture of people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing teaching every other idiot out there.”

While Britton Clouse makes her opinion abundantly clear, many self-described foodies and locavores support the trend and dispute the notion that it's so widely problematic.

We love the idea of comfy birds in substantial coops, living out happy lives as pets while — and after — providing organic food for a family. But we wish people would do their research to avoid unpleasant surprises that result in neglected animals.

Tell us where you stand: Have you considered raising chickens?

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter

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