The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

New pet trend has health, other benefits

 
A number of Starkville residents have recently caught onto the growing national trend for backyard chickens. Yes, in what would hardly be considered newsworthy in our grandparents’ time, local people have taken to raising their own chickens for eggs, compost and a variety of other reasons in their own backyard. Fortunately for the backyard chicken owner, there are no zoning restrictions in Starkville that prohibit raising chickens in city limits.
Starkville resident Jason Walker, who lives near Mississippi State University, said he has had four Golden Buffingtons in his yard for a little over a year and a half.
“We like the fresh eggs and compost, for sure,” Walker said.
Walker also emphasized the fact that raising chickens and growing food locally is important.
“(Raising chickens) just seemed like a good thing to do. It makes sense economically, environmentally and socially,” Walker said.
Many urban chicken owners are non-traditional farmers, but their passion for knowing where and how their food is grown inspires them to raise chickens. With the price of eggs going up, and the health of industrial chickens going down, Taylor Dearman, who works in the College of Education, said raising his own chickens was only natural.
Dearman, resident of the Cotton District, currently has three Rhode Island Reds in his backyard and is about to buy six more laying hens. He said he and his wife have had the birds for almost two months now.
“It’s something we’ve been planning to do for a while, and I finally had time to do it,” Dearman said.
He cited recent salmonella scares and inhumane conditions in (what critics have called) “factory farms,” as being the impetus for starting to raise his own chickens.
“The way eggs are produced today is really quite horrific,” Dearman said.
Aside from the more earnest reasons for rearing chickens, Dearman said the birds are also good companions and pets. 
“(We raise chickens) for health and economical reasons, but they’re also fun little pets for the kids, too.”
Dearman said he believes growing fresh, local and healthy eggs and animals is important.
“It’s beyond a trend,” Dearman said. “So many foods today are grown without any love or care for the product.”
Dearman and like-minded urban growers are trying to change that.
Both Dearman and Walker said because MSU is a land grant institution and because we live in a traditionally agricultural state, more people should raise chickens at home.
“Starkville is a good place to make this kind of thing happen. I think things need to change on a national scale and I think we can do it. It’s like the Crosby, Stills Nash & Young song, ‘We got to get back to the garden’.”

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New pet trend has health, other benefits