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Home to roost

by 5m Editor
28 August 2006, at 11:45am

NEW MARKET, Va. - Few things can raise the hackles on a gardener's neck like a flock of chickens methodically working their way through some well-tended flower or vegetable beds.

The pitchfork-like claws and thick, probing beaks of these colourful yard birds can make short work of low-hanging tomatoes or border-blooming begonias, among other fruiting and flowering things.

Yet a small bunch of backyard birds can be great for hunting down insects, scratching up weeds and serving as mobile lawn ornaments.

A grassland diet noticeably improves their flavour, too, when it comes time to take them from coop to soup or from garden plot to stew pot as my grandparents were known to do if they discovered a few wayward fowl shredding their treasured strawberry plants.

Poultry growing has changed a great deal since the 1950s when it was largely a matter of keeping a few chickens around for farm fresh eggs and the occasional Southern-fried Sunday dinner. But backyard bird operations gradually gave way to huge commercial confinement pens bringing an economy of scale family flocks couldn't match.

Source: Toronto Sun

5m Editor