Consideration of the urban chicken ordinance in Iowa City must include a discussion on disposing of unwanted live chickens. When the novelty of having backyard chickens wears off after six months, or after going through a winter of caring for them, buying feed, and cleaning the coop, inevitably there will be some who want to dispose of the chickens by giving them what the owners consider freedom, but is really a death sentence. Without thinking of the consequences, some may deliver unwanted chickens to a cornfield, country home with a pond, or rural park.
Here is what happens when a chicken (or dog or cat) is lovingly delivered to the country setting: Your chicken, as well as any other dropped-off pet, will have a developed a dependence on humans to supply food. By giving the pet “freedom,” it will suffer from an attack by a wild animal and die, having become the meal of a coyote, badger, roaming dog, or bird of prey. Or it will wander onto a resident’s property where territorial dogs live, be attacked and viciously shaken to death.
Should the urban chicken ordinance pass, a provision must be included that addresses appropriate means of disposal.
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