As posted on the back of my hen house today, in case the rain ruins the sign before you get to read it:
Thank you for letting out my hens. If you do so again, please shut the gate. There are red foxes on this property that hunt during the day. They kill any chickens not protected by a fence. At night, the raccoons and oppossums kill any chickens not safely shut indoors. What the hens would really appreciate is a pan of fresh water. The automatic waterer (the orange thing) doesn’t work without a regulator to reduce the water pressure. My regulator is broken. Since I have to replace the chicks you stole, I can’t afford a regulator. The hens now have to wait for fresh water–not a big deal in the winter, but it’s been getting hot lately.
The chicks you stole are cornish-rock crosses, the same breed used by factory farms. They’re bred to put on weight quickly and be slaughtered at 7-9 weeks. If you want them to live longer than that, you MUST underfeed them and make them exercise, or they will become crippled or die of congestive heart failure. The breed is not meant to live to old age. If you don’t give them a quick, humane death while they’re young, the alternatives are getting eaten alive by predators or dying a long, slow, miserable death after a life of physical impairment.
I also ask that you carefully consider the ethics of what you’re doing. There’s right and wrong, but there’s also more wrong and less wrong. If you steal all my chickens, I’ll have to buy compost for my crops. That means money that ends up going to CAFOs for the manure of animals that are mistreated. And if I don’t have poultry to help control insects, I’ll have to use pesticides, which will run off into the water and kill fish. I’m trying to work WITH nature to change how farms work and how people get their food. You’re getting in the way of that, and in turn, you’re supporting giant agribusinesses that abuse animals and destroy the environment, the economy, and our health.
Moreover, you’re hurting my family very badly. You didn’t just deprive us of the $60 we spent on chicks or the extra $40 I had to pay to replace them on short notice (on top of the regular $60). You didn’t even just steal the extra time I have to spend watering birds since I can’t buy them a regulator now. You stole the $600 profit we’d have made raising these birds. My household income last year–me and my wife combined–was around $8,000. Don’t believe me? Look on the back of this cardboard. [I wrote this on a box from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank] You are stealing from peasants. We have two children and I’m supporting another from a previous marriage. You could attack KFC or McDonald’s or a huge factory farm that treats its animals badly. Instead, you’re ripping off poor people who care about raising animals better. And for what? To let some of the dumbest chickens ever bred get crippled and die of heart attacks. Think. Do the right thing.