The concept was simple and, I believe, both reasonable and good: that is, these birds, typically kept alive for about 2 years, ought to have enough space to be able to move around more freely with room to stand up, sit down, and fully extend wings.
In certain hip, locavore, foodie parts of the country (Brooklyn, Berkeley, Cambridge, etc.) the trend recently has been to raise your own chickens. From what I know from people that have them, it's more work than just letting the birds run around the yard looking good and eating bugs.
I'll never forget where I was the day I heard Lady Gaga crow for the first time. Not the singer, but my chicken, a particularly beautiful little guy with flashy feathers and a gorgeous, larger-than-life swagger.
If you're willing to hang with me here (knowing I'm not the last-word-expert on any of this), I'll give you a list of things that worked for us in our small farm start-up, in case you're dreaming (or acting on the dream) of starting one.
Paulie quickly learned the sound of my car, charged to my car door when he heard it, squawking and hopping up and down like a lunatic, wanting a car ride. Paulie loved sitting in my lap and driving around town!
Although this is a relatively obscure ritual performed by mostly Hasidic Jews, this practice has garnered national controversy with PETA calling for the banning of the practice and many rabbis even criticizing it, encouraging the use of money as an alternative to chickens.
The movement for veganism is the most challenging social change movement in history. We're not asking a segment of the population to change in order to right a wrong. We're asking every single human being to change.
Today, because it is impossible to do it in a kosher way, we must perform the ritual with money. Rabbinic sources including the Chayei Adam and Mishna Berurah are clear that when the ritual cannot be performed in a kosher way it is preferable to use money.
From the rooftops of Brooklyn to the backyards of Seattle, recreational chicken ranching is increasingly popular in urban and suburban neighborhoods. At the rate this agrarian hobby is growing it's only a matter of time until you have a few hens of your own.