Sunday, April 10, 2011

C is for Chickens

While I have a love for preparedness, I also have a desire for sustainable living. Sometimes, these two lovers complement each other but sometimes, they compete for my affection. Having chickens here on our tiny semi-urban homestead definitely creates conflict.

Chickens create food security- meaning that we can rely on our own property to produce eggs and meat. That will be an important safety feature in a long-term emergency that disrupts food shipments for weeks or months. My first and foremost reason for keeping chickens, though, is because it is a way to live lightly on the land and provide my family with healthy, natural foods. I know how my chickens were raised and that they haven't been fed antibiotics their whole lives.

I raise heritage breeds that are facing extinction due to the new "Frankenchickens" that you find in your grocery store. Those hybrids have been genetically manipulated to provide lots of meat in the 8 weeks of their life. If you let them live longer than that, their bodies will become so heavy, they won't be able to walk and they are likely to die of heart failure. In other words, they cannot live a "normal" chicken life. Not much different than growing meat in a test tube.

I'm digressing from the main point of the blog post, though. Having chickens can make emergency preparedness more challenging. In our neck of the woods, hurricanes are the biggest threat. In the four years we've been here, we have not had to face the prospect of evacuation. For that, I am thankful. But when we do- and it will surely come- I will have to decide what to do with the chickens.

As far as I'm concerned, they come with us in a trailer attached to our car. My husband is not necessarily on board with that idea, though. I can't imagine leaving them in hurricane. That goes against everything I believe about raising livestock responsibly. Finding an inland motel that will take 20 hens, 2 roosters and 6 cats might be tricky, however.

If you raise livestock, be sure to include them in your emergency preparations. What will you do with them if you have to evacuate the area? If you are going to stay and hunker down, how will you protect them? Make your plan ahead of time so you don't have to make hard decisions under pressure when the emergency strikes.


Fran said...

When it comes to unique contents you get 1+. Wonderful post, may be the only one on the world wide web on this topic.

Keep up the good work
enjoy your Sunday


Marie Anne said...

Definitely something to think about and plan for.

My main concern here is high winds and my coops have so far been able to withstand that without issue.