- Jun 3, 2021
This ordinace would guarantee that anyone raising chickens would need to keep a chicken eating dog to feed the excess roos to!I was shocked when I heard about this. I'm wondering how well-known this is among people who actually raise livestock, whether for meat or eggs or whatever. Anyone from Oregon familiar with it? I'm not a resident but I'm very worried about the kind of precedent it might set if it passes and other states follow suit. Colorado is already proposing a similar, though slightly less draconian, iniative.
Check out this link for the details: https://www.farmprogress.com/livestock/oregon-initiative-would-ban-animal-slaughter-breeding
In a nutshell, it would reclassify livestock slaughter as "aggravated abuse," and artificial insemination and castration would both be considered "sexual assault." I realize the latter doesn't really apply to chicken breeding, but banning the slaughter of livestock on its own could have a devastating impact on backyard chicken owners.
Even if you just keep some pullets as pets and never butcher them, consider this: in order to buy pullets, hens, or sex-linked female chicks, someone somewhere needs to be culling the males. This would be banned under the proposed law, which states that livestock can only be slaughtered, either for meat or otherwise, after they've died of natural causes. Meaning that, at least in Oregon, no one would be allowed to hatch chicken eggs unless they are prepared to care for or rehome the roosters for their entire natural lifespan (anyone know the average natural lifespan of a domesticated chicken? I've seen a wide range of estimates). This would probably put any Oregon-based hatcheries out of business or force them to leave the state, but it would also criminalize most backyard breeding, since not many owners of small flocks have the means to care for roosters long-term.
First of all, many towns have local ordinances against raising roosters. People living in these towns may still be able to breed and hatch their own chicks, as long as they cull the males before they reach adulthood, but of course the new law would make this illegal.
Even if your town does allow roosters, assuming approximately half of all hatched eggs turn out to be males, the only way to raise an entire brood together into adulthood with male-to-female ratios of 1:1, or even more (if you're expecting to sell some of the females), is to have a very large area to ensure the roosters have enough space that they won't be constantly fighting each other. This usually requires either free-ranging on a large enough area of land that the chickens aren't wandering into your neighbor's property, or a very large fenced-in pasture. Few people have those kinds of resources, and those that do are not likely to want to set them aside for a bunch of roosters that have to be fed and cared for for years before they can be used for meat, and that's assuming they die a natural death that doesn't render the meat unfit for human consumption, as is likely if they die from either illness or attack by a predator.
Even if you have the space to free-range, many areas have such high predator pressure that you can't free-range birds without attracting predators that will gradually decimate your flock and potentially put your other livestock at risk. And forcing roosters to share a run with a roughly equal number of hens is likely to going to result in a lot of roosters fighting each other, and a lot of stress on the hens being constantly pursued by a whole bunch of roosters jostling for position in the pecking order.
None of these scenarios seems particularly humane to the animals, despite claims from the bill's advocates that this is all for the sake of animal welfare. And while re-homing a rooster may seem like an ethical alternative to raising them in large numbers in enclosed spaces, anyone who's ever tried to rehome a rooster knows how hard it is to find people willing to take even one off your hands, let alone pay you for it. You can sometimes find someone with a backyard flock who needs a rooster, but there just isn't enough demand for roosters to match the supply generated from even a small breeding operation, unless you allow them to be sold for meat. And if this bill passes, then much of that existing demand will fall off as backyard breeders realize they can no longer hatch their own eggs, removing much of the incentive for keeping a rooster in the first place.
What do you think? Are there further implications to this bill that I haven't mentioned? Does anyone disagree with me and think this could be a good thing for backyard chicken owners, or that I'm misinterpreting the bill's meaning? What do you think are the odds that this will pass into law? I'm especially interested to hear what Oregonians think of this. Were you aware of the initiative? Are you worried it will pass? And finally, if anyone wants to wade into it, what does this say about the government's position on individuals' right to pursue self-sufficiency, or at least local food economies and infrastructure, and independence from centralized, industrialized food production? Is this an attack on homesteaders and others who are trying to opt-out of industrial agriculture to force people to switch to lab-grown meat or stop eating meat altogether? Or is it a crackdown on inhumane industrial farming practices, and backyard flocks are simply the unintended collateral damage caught in the crossfire?
edit: Originally I said that the bill required animals to be raised for 1/4th of their natural lifespan, but upon reviewing the link above I realized that this standard actually comes from a similar bill proposed in Colorado. The Oregon bill specifically states that animals must die of natural causes before they can be used for meat. I've corrected the text above to reflect that.