Down on Their Cluck: Abandoned Farm Animals Fill Humane Societies

The growth in urban farming is sprouting some negative side effects, such as the influx of barnyard animals to humane societies across the country.

Chicken Coop

A handful of humane societies take unwanted poultry and goats, but even they are stretched thin.

KRISTEN TAYLOR / WWW.FLICKR.COM / PHOTOS / KTHREAD

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Hens pecking near privacy fences and milk goats bleating greetings to overflying airplanes are the hip urbanite’s bucolic dream, but the city homesteading movement has a dark side, reports E Magazine (January/February 2012), as rescue centers become overrun with abandoned livestock. From a homeless goat wandering a Brooklyn park to a container of chicks left by a trash bin with a note reading “Please love us,” farm animals are being forsaken by clueless city dwellers in record numbers, and animal humane societies do not have the facilities to house them. A handful of humane societies—such as New York’s 23-acre Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Oregon’s 54-acre Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary—take unwanted poultry and goats, but even they are stretched thin. Minnesota’s Chicken Run Rescue has experienced a 780 percent increase in rescue requests.

Metropolitan homesteaders are encouraged to think hard before they leap into livestock husbandry, and to consider adopting a rescue animal from a local shelter. It also seems high time for someone to develop a city-to-country program to funnel cosmopolitan livestock to rural poultry farms and working goat barns for their golden years.