Saturday, July 4, 2009

dirty animals

I'm excited about my chickens. First, I think chickens were the next step in our sustainable lifestyle. I just hope I don't kill them. One thing I'm really excited about was their coop. I built the coop from an old picnic table that came with our house. We had to buy some things to complete it, but the picnic table was almost completely recycled into the coop. I wish I had taken pictures to show how.

Tonight I want to blog about dirty animals. When I tell people that we got chickens, I often hear that they are dirty, stinky animals. While I'm not going to deny that, I would like to put it into perspective.

Let's compare my chickens to the people who walk their dogs in front of our house. My chickens produce A LOT of poop. All of that poop can be composted into some of the best fertilizer possible for my garden. I get some leftover wood products as flooring, the chickens poop in it, I let it sit for awhile and compost and then I put it on my tomatoes and it helps them grow. The people with the dog, on the other hand, carry around a plastic bag (a petroleum product), wait for the dog to poop, pick it up in the plastic bag, carry it back home and put it in the trash. The trash man then drives his stinky truck to their house and takes the dog poop with the trash to the dump where it very slowly rots along with the other municipal waste that pollutes the dump.

The only thing that makes cats any better is that the owner doesn't follow the cat around waiting for it to poop. The cat goes to the litter box and does his thing in peace. Still the owner will eventually gather the cat poop in a plastic container and send it for a stinky ride to the dump to rot.

Even cats and dogs that live outdoors and don't have humans that collect their bodily waste don't produce anything of worth (like fertilizer or eggs).

So I've been thinking about this. Chickens are considered 'dirty' animals, but for some reason cats and dogs aren't. Yet when you look at what is done with the animal byproducts it really seems that cats and dogs are far dirtier. So what gives, why is there a discrepancy?

Ultimately my ideas turned to the separation of people from consequences. I'm thinking that if dog owners had to compost the animal waste and make it useful, they would find their animals to be dirtier. Since they are able to contain the mess in a convenient petroleum product and send it away they then don't have to think about it. It is more difficult to get the chicken mess sent away, therefore the chickens are considered dirty. It's not that the chickens themselves are really dirtier, but rather the mess is more difficult to get off the property.

Interestingly, that is the same reason that people still buy eggs from a huge chicken farm and meat from slaughterhouses. If they really had to experience the consequence of their actions, most would not want to participate. If they had to see the living conditions of the chickens or cows that are used to mass produce their food, they would recognize the real cost of what they are eating. I think we would have more vegetarians in the world if people understood their impact on animals.

It sounds like I'm going to burst into some PETA type rant and I'm far from that, but I also know there are serious health ramifications in eating products raised they way our mass produced animal products are raised.

I'm still going light on the computer, but I am back... sort of.


2whls3spds said...

Chickens in themselves are not dirty animals it is the habits of their keepers. We keep chickens in a movable "ark" that allows us to determine the location of the cage on a day by day basis. Keeps the bugs down and keeps the fertilizer spread around.

Besides store bought eggs are bland compared to eggs from chickens allowed to eat their natural food choices.


cyclingred said...

I have never quite been able to understand the appeal of walking a dog around with a plastic bag and picking up dog shit.

My son just recently built a chicken coop. I am sorry but you can't see the pic because his blog is not public.