To hipster urbanites, raising your own chickens seems like an environmentally conscious decision — going local taken to its logical conclusion.
But the trend has sparked an unforeseen problem: City dwellers who try and raise their own chickens are increasingly abandoning the birds as they have no idea how to properly take care of them.
Humane Society spokesman Paul Shapiro told NBC News that hundreds of chickens are abandoned at shelters every year, and that the problem is getting worse as more cities legalize hen-keeping.
It all began in the mid-2000s when the “locavore” craze spread in urban centers across the United States.
Tiffany Young, founder of Ducks and Clucks, a Seattle animal rescue group, told The Daily Caller that the issue was largely due to a specific subset of the population: “hipster urban yuppie types” with romanticized notions of raising farm animals.
According to Young, about half of these “hipster bloggers” give up on taking care of the chickens within five weeks after realizing that taking care of a farm animal is hard work. They then try to “pawn off” the chickens to real farms or shelters.
“There is not a sanctuary anywhere in the Northwest that is not at capacity or beyond it,” she said, mentioning that the birds are often badly taken care of and end up with diseases.
The “backyard chicken” phenomenon is so strong in Seattle that the city banned roosters in 2010, due to their morning crowing, although the law also legalized keeping up to eight hens.
And other problems have arisen from amateur farmers: A nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2012 was spread in part by chickens raised in backyard coops.
But what is to be done as more chickens are given up by their temporary hipster owners?
“Older chickens make excellent stew birds,” he said.