We're very interested in keeping a small flock of backyard hens (no roosters allowed in the subdivision). It's a matter of timing, so haven't bought anything yet, but have definitely been exploring the whole idea.
Yesterday I began to wonder what happens with all the little cockerels. Everyone wants the pullets, and that's all a local feed store knowingly sells...but 50% of each hatch must consist of the little guys. So, I began to research. What I read about their short lives horrified me. Article after article described the day-old male chicks (most of them) being disposed of in different ways, all awful and seemingly conscienceless.
I know that all living things come to an end at some point (sometimes it's a stock pot), but being tossed into a meat grinder at one day of age -- alive? By the thousands?
Is this the cost of keeping only hens in the backyard? Is it right? I realize that chickens are not people, nor do they have the same value as people, but something about this scenario seems twisted and wrong.
I realize I have to have a good answer to this question before I can walk into that feed store to buy those cute, chirping pullets. If I don't, I probably won't be able to.
Have any of you wrestled with this same issue? Is there a good answer? Is there a way to change the way things are done? I'm not a troll, not trying to make hatcheries look bad, just struggling with the reality of things as they are at present.
Thanks for any thoughts you might have.