There are a growing number of urban and suburban families keeping chickens in their backyards. According to the owners, the birds offer a soothing presence in the yard and an endless supply of organic eggs.
“Nothing calms you more than sitting out in the yard watching your chickens poke around for bugs and carry on conversations with each other,” said Carla Allen, who keeps chickens on her ranch in San Marcos.
There are no definite numbers available that illustrate the growth. This is because it is difficult to determine and define who is keeping chickens for pets and who is keeping them to eat, says Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. He added that there is evidence, however, to suggest the organic trend is fuelling a pet chicken underground, especially in Middle America.
Backyard Poultry magazine was resurrected about a year and a half ago after being halted in the 1980s. Readership in the Medford, Wisconsin-based publication has skyrocketed compared with its publisher’s other two animal magazines. Publisher Dave Belanger said Backyard Poultry’s more than 50,000 subscribers exceeded his expectations tenfold.
“The biggest growth I see is the organic group that wants to know where their eggs are from,” he said. “A lot of urban people fall into that family.”