by Karen Davis, PhD
Published in The Gainesville Sun
Yes, it is heartening that more people are discovering the pleasure of chickens, as described in The Sun's March 1 article, "Chick business thrives in Gainesville." It's great that people who want to keep chickens are eager to create yards for them to enjoy. After all, chickens come from the tropical forests of Southeast Asia where they've been running around the forest for millennia. Chickens are not meant to be sedentary.
All the breeding that has been done to chickens for human convenience has not changed the essential nature of chickens. Chickens love to run about, dig in the ground, sunbathe, socialize and perch. Unless they are disabled, dispirited or industrially confined, this is what chickens do.
I've kept chickens since 1985 and have had the pleasure of opening their doors each morning for more than 30 years. I love watching the hens and roosters spill out the door and race into the yard, vocalizing their enthusiasm as they run in all directions inside our 12,000-square-foot predator-proof aviary filled with trees, bushes, mulchy soil and grass.