Credit Crunch Drives Increase in Backyard Flocks
Jeff said it before — urban chicken keeping just makes sense, even if we've previously referred to backyard chickens as a 'weird ecohabit'. But if you could have a pet that not only gives you entertainment and companionship, but eggs (and great compost) too, then why the heck wouldn't you? OK, I must admit I'm biased - I'm a chicken keeper. And despite a recent case of weasel/raccoon attacks, I can say without a doubt that chickens make wonderful pets. It seems I'm not alone either. According to The Guardian, the number of small scale chicken keepers has mushroomed in the UK in the past year. Kirsten Halley, of seed manufacturer Allen and Page, says the phone has been ringing off the hook:
"In the last year to 18 months we have had people on the phone every day... I think there are a few factors that have come together. The credit crunch is a driver. The cost per egg of having your own hens is a fraction of what you would pay in the supermarket. And many people remember their grandparents having allotments, the fun of doing that and the social benefits, living off your own produce. In the current climate it is a lot more economical."
The feed manufacturers aren't the only ones seeing a growth in business - the Battery Hen Welfare Trust, a charity that re-houses hens from factory farms, saw adoptions rise from 29,000 in 2007 to more than 60,000 in 2008. Meanwhile, Omlet, the makers of the Eglu chicken coop, say that sales were up threefold last year.