Hello my name is April.
I was a vegetarian for 20 years until I began to learn about the horrors of the egg/dairy industry, and decided to go vegan three years ago. Having chickens and realizing how they feel pain, joy, and sorrow greatly influenced my decision.
Where in the world are you?
Batavia, Ohio, USA
How many chickens do you have?
Currently four girls, three recent “rescues” that have their own secure private coop/pen, and one house chicken that I’ve had for 8.5 yrs. who is my heart and soul.
what are your chickens names?
My Barred Rock with cataracts is called Tiny, the red hen with one bad eye is named Buckeye, and my little grey crooked beaked girl is Bonnie Blue. My older house hen is Beep the Chicken, who has a digestive disorder. Beep has her own facebook page.
How do you spend quality time with your chickens?
Every morning I go out and feed the girls their treats and let them out of their coop, then I spend a good hour cuddling in bed with Beep. Beep pretty much hangs out with us all day, by the computer or in the living room. I don’t get to spend as much time with the other three during the week as I’d like because of my work schedule, but we let them free range and walk around with them to keep them safe, and they love to hang out with us in the yard on the weekend. All four girls love to be held, cuddled and pampered.
What has surprised you most about your chickens?
It amazes me how each bird has his or her own personality. They are little characters.. some are sweet and loving, some boisterous and standoffish, some bold, some smarter than most household pets, some a bit silly… yet they still share similar mannerisms and love of life and the of simpler things such as having a good dust bathe and preening…
What do you want to tell people out there (who don’t know chickens as a species) about chickens?
These birds have feelings, just as your family pet, or your child. To confine them to small filthy cages or cramped conditions to live out their life simply to provide eggs or meat to the food industry is a cruel injustice and abuse.
How do you know that your chickens recognize you over and above other people in their lives?
When our birds see us coming, they run to us. When they see others that they do not know, they run in the other direction. My house hen Beep knows myself (Mom) and her dad. She knows Mom is the cuddler and protector and feeder, and Dad is the one she bosses around and plays with. Beep is a precocious little girl who doesn’t like other birds or even other people very much. She would never dream of being a sweetheart to anyone except her Mom. When others come around, she is completely indifferent to them, showing no interest unless there happens to be a treat involved..
In your experience of keeping chickens as pets, what 10 non-negotiable factors do you believe need to be in place to give chickens a life that is physically, emotionally and mentally healthy?
For cooped/penned birds, I’d say the obvious – secure housing, nest boxes/perches, fresh water, access to food, protection from elements (hot/cold weather), social interaction – either with humans or other chickens, dust bath access, love/affection/attention, occasional treats, and medical attention when needed.
If you could say one thing, on behalf of chickens in the world, to the decision makers in your country, what would that one thing be?
First and foremost, chickens need laws in place for their protection. As a vegan, I’d like to see all chickens liberated – but as a realist, I know this isn’t going to happen in the near future. Most people don’t know that chickens aren’t even protected under any humane slaughter laws that are given to pigs/cows. Egg laying chickens need access to the outdoors/sun. They need more space in their cage than a space the size of an ipad. There needs to be laws in place to protect these birds from the cruelties we impose on them, but more importantly, there needs to be a way to ENFORCE these laws.
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