Care for your clucking hen! SPCA says too many urban farmers abandoning chickens
MONTREAL -- Too many chickens are crossing the road and winding up at the Montreal SPCA.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says in recent months, it has been receiving an overwhelming number of hens and roosters, as would-be urban chicken farms are realizing the job may be harder than they thought.
"Chickens can live up to 15 years, but their productivity in terms of egg-laying goes down after about a year-and-a-half," said Montreal SPCA director of animal advocacy and legal affairs Sophie Gallard.
Around 30 chickens are abandoned every year, usually once they're past their prime egg-laying years.
There are a number of boroughs with chicken coop pilot projects, which are a novelty for many in a densely urban area.
There were even companies that would help residents set up a backyard coop, but the SPCA would like a moratorium on these kinds of projects until there are more uniform regulations, citing a 2019 Laboratory of Urban Agriculture report [see below], which "recommends legalizing and providing a permanent framework for the raising of egg-laying chickens."
Measures such as establishing a sanctuary in one of Montreal's parks or green spaces should be met, the report reads, to house any abandoned birds.
"We have to place them, which can take a long time, especially roosters, because they don’t lay eggs because they’re noisy, and they can sometimes be aggressive," said Gallard.
The City of Montreal said many boroughs requested to allow chickens and a working committee was set up to help them, adding that the city was surprised that the SPCA "accused us of not having a concerted strategy."
The SPCA said it can't handle many more chickens in addition to the dogs, cats, and even ducks that get abandoned at the association.
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The SPCA wants the city to have one set of rules so it doesn't have any more owners running afoul of caring for the birds.