The Alberni-Clayoquot branch of the BC SPCA has seen an increase in abandoned roosters ever since backyard chicken coops were approved, and people began hatching their own chicken eggs. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

The Alberni-Clayoquot branch of the BC SPCA has seen an increase in abandoned roosters ever since backyard chicken coops were approved, and people began hatching their own chicken eggs. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

EDITORIAL: Chickens dumped in bush mean fowl play for BC SPCA

Port Alberni branch forced to house unwanted roosters

The new trend toward maintaining backyard chicken coops has come with unintended consequences.

The Alberni-Clayoquot branch of the BC SPCA has seen a rise in chickens dumped in the bush—most recently a trio of Japanese bantam roosters near Great Central Lake, one of which was found deceased.

They aren’t the only roosters currently in residence: William, an Orpington mix rooster, has been housed at the SPCA for three months. A buddy of his was only recently adopted to a family looking for a bird to rule the roost.

Roosters are difficult to adopt out, according to the SPCA, because a posse of hens usually only needs one rooster. However, there is a 50-50 chance that any egg incubated will become a rooster instead of a hen.

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic many people turned toward homesteading skills while they were locked down: baking bread, canning fruits and vegetables, planting gardens and raising chickens. Many of these things were done spontaneously: bread baking led to a shortage of yeast in grocery stores, more gardens planted meant a shortage of seeds from growers at the beginning of the season.

Maintaining a backyard chicken coop or hatching your own chicks comes with responsibility. Research into whether it’s a good idea to have chickens goes beyond checking local bylaws or ensuring your neighbours won’t be annoyed at your rooster crowing or the smell of chicken byproduct. Prospective urban chicken farmers need to ask themselves whether they have the knowledge and skills to raise chickens.

What are you going to do with unwanted male chickens (roosters)? What about when your hens stop laying eggs? Did you know there are actual rules in Canada that lay out how to care for egg-laying hens?

Even though they aren’t cute and cuddly like kittens and puppies, or usually regarded as pets, chickens are still animals that need to be taken care of humanely. They aren’t the type of animal that will survive in the wild—they will most likely become prey. Anyone caught dumping animals in the wild could be fined under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

In the meantime, the SPCA is having to take on the hardship of housing unwanted fowl. And that’s foul play.

— Alberni Valley News

Abandoned chickensAlberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictBCSPCAPort Alberni