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Chickens in Trees (suziepetryk.com)
120 points by tancik 57 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 148 comments

I made the mistake of buying chickens as livestock. I fell in love with the day-old chicks the moment we got into the car to take them home. Plan was that 1/3 would become food, 1/3 would die of disease, and the remainder would lay eggs. Unfortunately I lost my taste for chicken. We lost 1/3 due to predators, not disease, despite building a $20,000 chicken run. I was depressed for months. And I have been through some heinous shit in my long life.

They make lovely sounds and they live next to my office so working at home is delightful. They are endlessly silly. They are manipulative. They are dignified and stupid. Their plumage is a miracle of biology. They aren’t particularly friendly. I have no clue why I adore them.

Had no idea that such stupid little dinosaurs would change my life so dramatically.

Losing chicken to predators is normal and according to plan. Fortunately they can be multiplied really fast so... If the fox cubs had a good dinner once on a blue moon is not the end of the world or something to be depressed about it.

I know that in my head.

Yeah! We got a couple of backyard chooks and thought it’d be eggs all the way.

Three years later, and we’re taking Belinda ‘the bruiser’ to the vet tomorrow for her second hormone implant. Turns out the ISA Browns that are bred to lay have their insides just destroyed by the constant production.

So you can let them die, or you can spend thousands of dollars keeping them alive. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I had no idea I’d love chickens this much. They’re tremendous animals.

In my country, whenever a chicken was running too old, you'd just make a great sancocho out of the opportunity.


A lot more people would be veggie if they had to kill the animals themselves. You just wouldn't do it unless you were really hungry, which I doubt anyone on this forum has experienced even once.

Not even 3 generations ago, it was incredibly common for people to slaughter their own farm animals. My grandmother was an old farm woman, raised in the time before refrigeration. She'd slaughter and pluck her own chickens without a second thought. It's entirely a modern phenomenon of global distribution and modern conditioning that lead you to that conclusion. Some animals evolved to be prey, and that is why they have an excessive number of offspring. Fowls are among those species. They lay eggs sometimes once a day so their numbers can increase incredibly rapidly. That is an adaptation to high predation. In the absence of that predation, they can overwhelm ecosystems.

You are a descendent of millions of years of hunters. I know many hunters and have been hunting myself. I know many who like to fish and have been fishing myself, and cooked my own catch. It's quite a satisfying experience actually.

> Some animals evolved to be prey, and that is why they have an excessive number of offspring. Fowls are among those species. They lay eggs sometimes once a day so their numbers can increase incredibly rapidly. That is an adaptation to high predation. In the absence of that predation, they can overwhelm ecosystems.

Red junglefowl, the ancestors to domesticated chickens, only lay a few clutches annually for a total of less than 20 eggs per year. Modern chickens that lay hundreds of eggs a year are a product of selective breeding, not some natural adaptation.

One could argue that is natural adaptation. Modern chickens are likely going to be more successful at propagating their genes into the future.

Only if by natural you mean "not supernatural".

I didn't mean that "artificial" is an artificial distinction. I meant that the evolutionary fittest chicken long-term might be the modern farmed chicken. It's a weird tradeoff their specie is managing to make.

You could justify any man-made breeding horror with that if it held any ethical weight, but it does not. Breeding a worse life into a sentient being isn't a victory for that being. Neither the being nor its genes should be propagated at all.

I see the case for it, but what wouldn't be natural once you allow this? Gene editing? Why not?

A consequence is that 'natural' will lose all meaning. If everything is natural, then nothing is, really.

I fall under the idea that yes, everything is natural, we are not special no matter what secrets of the universe we uncover and wield . Even our robot descendants , if they ever come to be, are natural too. Just because we have the ability to acknowledge material selection does not mean we are except from it

That's a gross misuse of language that makes words utterly meaningless. When people say "artificial selection" they don't mean a supernatural deity is doing it.

It's like going "haha gotcha! tomatoes are fruit, not vegetables!", completely missing the difference between the use of the word in a culinary versus botanical context. It's not insightful or useful in any way, it's just equivocation.

I just fall under the banner that everything we do is natural since we are natural, even if we were to desires nature it self. After all it was natural selection that brought us here.

Only if you want to argue about what counts as "natural".

Not the case in many South Asian cultures. Lots of South Asians have been vegetarian for a really long time. Jain and Hindu foundational texts advocate for vegetarianism and Buddhism, also originally from the region, also treats vegetarianism as a foundational concept. These all derive from the concept of ahimsa, the principle of nonviolence. People have been horrified at killing for a very long time, in times much materially poorer than our own now. Even now a third of India is vegetarian.

> You are a descendent of millions of years of hunters. I know many hunters and have been hunting myself. I know many who like to fish and have been fishing myself, and cooked my own catch. It's quite a satisfying experience actually.

When I see posts like this I chuckle a bit at how steeped in their culture they are.

Not all Buddhists are vegetarian. It would be really hard to live in the Tibetan plateau or in Mongolia and be vegetarian, just because the land supports grazing and not much farming beyond that. Yet those areas are heavily Buddhist, even if even the monks eat meat.

Definitely and despite ~ 70-80% of India being Hindu only a third of India is vegetarian, so there are more non-veg than veg Hindus. But those cultures often frown on relishing meat (much in the way Protestants "frown" on promiscuity or Muslims "frown" on showing skin even though in practice it absolutely happens) or eating meat and only meat. In a lot of Buddhist Asia you can ask for the "monk's menu" and you'll get something that is veg and can be flavorful (but not always as keeping food underspiced is part of being Buddhist.) You also find lots of households where meat is eaten sparingly or combined with other protein dense foods like tofu or seitan to make a complete meal.

I contrast this with Western cultures where meat is often the centerpiece of the dish and many times your food is just meat with accompanying carbs and veggies. The kind of rhetoric the GP had about relishing hunting is a lot more absent from these cultures just because there's a general understanding that eating meat is unethical but something we all do because we aren't perfect.

All that to say that culture creates a powerful framing. Obviously in places like the steppes it's very hard to live without eating meat, but in places rich with agriculture attitudes toward meat are more about the culture you're steeped in than any material nutritional issues.

I’ve spent time on the Tibetan plateau and suffered from meat overload. We only had meat to eat each night, and my gums began to feel really uncomfortable. I guess at high altitudes, veggies really are a luxury.

India has a lot of carb veggies as well, which I found really interesting. I found it hard to get leafy greens of some sort (the vegetables you need to eat to stay healthy, cooked or otherwise) when I visited Delhi and Jaipur. But that could have just been me picking the wrong places to eat. China has much more leafy greens in my opinion, but again I’m limited in experience when it comes to South Asia. They definitely take the cake in making tofu taste like meat, but I’m not really into that.

You're totally right, South Asian diets tend to be poor in leafy greens and tend to stick with protein and carb heavy veggies like rice, grains, cauliflower, lentils, and beans. I've encountered and was raised with a small cultural disdain for leafy greans ("we aren't cows why should we eat like them" is how I've heard it joked about), but this is changing with new nutritional science and greater popularization of Western food fads like salads. Chinese diets definitely have more leafy greens.

I also find Japanese food to be shockingly short on veggies but same thing, it's hard to grow veggies there so a lot is imported, which makes veggies a bit of a luxury. Fruits are ridiculously hard/expensive to get there. Japanese food is a good example of a diet that historically was pretty meat poor and fish rich, though is changing with meat imports and modern processed fast foods like fried chicken ("chikin") and chicken nanban.

Three generations ago it was also common to beat your children. I’m not sure that we should base moral arguments on what was common in the past.

I read parent's comments more as a counter argument to the suggestion more people would be vegetarian if they had to kill their own animals for food, not a moral justification based on "people used to do it".

I read it as both, especially given the "I'm a hunter and hunting is great" bit. It is moral psychology. There is an implicit notion of what it means to be a human, and what is ethically sound is tied up with it, because it is universal, beyond time and place, and thus normal and good.

In this particular ethical issue it is an eternal tug-of-war between humans as essentially vegans by nature, corrupted by cloaking animal suffering in neat, pre-slaughtered packages (if we would only see...), and the other side presenting humans as one of the animals eating other animals. We are made out to be part of a natural order as hunter and butcher, which is both normal and good. Modern sensibilities around animal suffering is seen as a whimsy aberration of normality, artificial and unnatural. It is both descriptive and normative, and the what-is functions as a tool for the what-should.

This does lead to pretty bad 'science' (on both sides, really) and conversations that are very loaded around basic facts. I would agree if you would say the what-is does not depend on the what-should-be and vice versa, free will and all, but this is often not how ethical conversations (and rhetoric) works.

No, it was not. It was common to spank your children, out of care and love, when they did things dangerous to themselves or others, and sometimes a strap or switch when something truly horrific was done.

We now view this as wrong, but that wasn't beating them.

Yes, some idiots did beat their children, or hit their children out of anger. That doesn't mean it was common.

From what I observe, although spanking is described as basically harmless, not everyone who lived through it see it as something that improved their lives. Even if it was administered by well-meaning, loving parents.

To be clear, as this is often required on HN, I was speaking of a subset of spanking:

out of care and love, when they did things dangerous to themselves or others, and sometimes a strap or switch when something truly horrific was done.

In other words, never because fed up / angry. Never because of minor situations, and so on. For example, swearing isn't "dangerous to themselves or others". Spanking employed when the life of the child or others is involved, is a short-cut to locking an intense memory into long-term recall.

This sort of event is rare.

And to be frank? "Improved their lives" isn't necessarily important. Note how I state "dangerous to themselves or others"? Siblings and other children have to be taken into account.

Lastly, and take this from someone with grey hair, it wasn't until my 30s that I started to appreciate some of the discipline I disagreed with as a child. Disagreeing, doesn't mean it was wrong.

Okay, I believe my argument is not hurt by replacing the word „beat“ with „spank“. Adding that physical punishment was done out of love strengthens my argument, I think.

The change is spanking is not because spanking is harmful but because the world doesn't need it. The environment people are in is much more gentle, so it's not necessary to raise children that can handle large amounts of adversity.

We also don't teach our kids to defend themselves against sword attacks, for the same reason - it's no longer necessary.

Your argument implies that the past behavior was bad and we should change it, but that's incorrect. The past behavior was correct for its time. If someone would have raised a child without spanking 100 years ago they would end up with a weak person who could not live in the real world, this would be a bad thing.

I’m not particularly knowledgeable about early child development but I believe the science we have today says that spanking is in fact harmful and spanking your children does not „toughen them up“.

"Yes, some idiots did beat their children, or hit their children out of anger. That doesn't mean it was common."

In the areas that still do beat their children, they commonly do beat more, when they are angry.

Just think of how much the environment would benefit if we wouldn't need to run so many refrigerators to eat fresh food…

It would not benefit at all. Zero. It would harm the environment because all the food waste outweighs the energy cost of refrigerators by several orders of magnitude.

Feed food waste to chickens, fish, rabbits, and worms. Feed poop to worms and bacteria, feed bacteria and worm waste to plants, which convert that dastardly CO2 to sweet wholesome Oxygen. I was always taught that recycling was good, while pumping oil out of the ground and creating new CO2 is bad, but I'm no expert.

It's better to eat the "food waste", rather than create more waste in the first place.

If I have leftover rice, I'd rather refrigerate it and eat it tomorrow, instead of feed it to chickens.

Rabbits can not eat food waste, they have very sensitive digestions. Very few fish will eat food waste (mostly just tilapia will do so).

> feed bacteria and worm waste to plants

Plants do not eat bacteria. You can't just "feed" worm waste to plants, you would have to bury into the soil via plowing or some other method.

Bacteria also make CO2 by digesting food. The fertilizer they make is minerals and nitrogen.

You have a bit of a simplistic view of how this food cycle works.

> I was always taught that recycling was good, while pumping oil out of the ground and creating new CO2 is bad, but I'm no expert.

It's not so simple. Except for metal, recycling usually uses more oil than not recycling.

Plants do eat bacteria waste (see aquaponics), rabbits can eat some kitchen plant waste, but should of course not solely be fed that, (same with chickens), rabbit poop can be fed to fish and chickens (rabbits themselves eat it like 3x because poor digestive tract)… There are obviously a few steps I left unmentioned, as I am keeping my comments simplistic for the format.

You seem to have selective comprehension issues.

Recycling is more than just throwing trash into different coloured bins and burning oil to process it; Specifically, recycling in my comment refers to the process of water and air turning into food, and back into water and air, as has been customary for terran life for a few years now.

It is quite simply a natural cycle using no oil for centuries, vs. an industrial cycle using millions of tons of oil per year.

> Plants do eat bacteria waste (see aquaponics)

Sort of. Some bacteria do convert ammonia into a form that plants can eat, but the majority of bacteria waste is just CO2.

> rabbits can eat some kitchen plant waste

Very very very little. A couple leaves from romaine lettuce and that's about it. They can not eat vegetable peelings for example.

Chickens can.

> rabbit poop can be fed to fish and chickens (rabbits themselves eat it like 3x because poor digestive tract)

This is not correct. Rabbit poop is mostly cellulose and chickens can not digest it, nor can most fish except for tilapia. Rabbits do not eat their poop 3x - they have a special partially digested waste that they will eat a second time, sometimes, it depends on their diet. They do not re-eat their regular poop.

> It is quite simply a natural cycle using no oil for centuries

And it releases lots of CO2. The CO2 the plant absorbed is released when it decays. What's your goal? Reduction of CO2? Less stuff in landfill?

This started with your claim that not refrigerating will reduce CO2 emissions. This is not true. When you "recycle" leftover food, all the CO2 in the food is emitted, and you have to grow more.

The amount of CO2 emitted to recycle food is FAR FAR more than the CO2 from running a refrigerator.

I understand you long for the old days and how we did things, but you are overlooking the downsides. Each person in the past used far more resources than they do today, the world had fewer people and it worked out. It's not possible to support this many people using the inefficient methods of the past.

Before the industrial revolution almost every single tree in Europe was cut down in order to support human life there, it was not sustainable - they ran out of trees.

Using technology the increase in efficiency was so great we also got "treats" other technology we greatly enjoy. There are downsides of course, too much CO2, but going back to the old ways is NOT the solution.

Food production and consumption using the methods by which living beings have consumed each other for the last 3.8 billion years, is emissions neutral, on average.

The argument for CO2 reduction has always been that all the extra carbon released from coal, gas, and petroleum, is bad, as a net increase of emissions, beyond natural processes.

Yeah, I used to perform similar mental gymnastics too. Interestingly, it's very similar to the behaviour of addicts. Unfortunately, the way poor people lived 3 generations ago has absolutely nothing to do with how fat, rich people live today. What's next? No vaccines? No pasteurisation? This line of reasoning is a very slippery slope.

Hunting is different for a couple of reasons. First, you're almost certainly talking about killing from a distance with a gun. But it's also quite different to hunt a wild animal rather than raise a domestic animal just to kill it. But also some "hunting" is basically a simulation using released domestic animals (see pheasant shooting in the UK). And some is just downright cruel (see fox hunting in the UK or shooting of birds in Malta). Nobody is doing the slaughter for fun, though. It's always guns or dogs doing the dirty work. Funny that.

> Nobody is doing the slaughter for fun, though. It's always guns or dogs doing the dirty work. Funny that.

But also to provide. The estate near us has shoots every season and the fowl which is killed is given to the local residents. Lots of local poorer people really look forward to shoot season because they can pack their freezer with lots of free meat. I speak to lots of older folks in the area and they say this is the way it has been done for hundreds of years.

> It's always guns or dogs doing the dirty work. Funny that.

Someone has to skin & butcher the animal though, or does that "just happen?"

The sibling comments to this are truthful, we wouldn't be vegetarians but I think we would be eating more vegetables. When I was vegetarian in my youth I visited my grandparents in the country and asked them about killing animals themselves. They did have relationships with their animals and didn't enjoy doing it but its what they did. I think if you ask modern animal farmers today they would say they do not enjoy killing their animals. My ancestors did say that they ate more preserved (salted) meat and vegetables more but they had more meat in later times. The animals they raised were for occasional or special times not daily consumption.

This is reflected by a thousand years or so for most of the West with significant parts the calendar where there was abstinence from meat which for many now people would consider impossible. At most we would be periodic vegetarians, omnivores with the balance towards the vegetarian.

I think you are closer to the mark. People don't seem to realise they didn't eat meat as much back then. Like not even 10% what people eat now. To sustain the amount of meat consumption today they would have been killing every single day! In fact, it was common for families to have one pig which they'd kill around Christmas time. The pig was fed waste food (leftovers, vegetable peelings etc). They ate the entire pig, including the blood. Not a scrap would be wasted.

But I think you are also forgetting that agriculture has improved since and people aren't hungry any more. We don't need to keep a pig and feed it swill. There's so much to go around that many people are fat. It's 100% a choice to eat meat today and if that choice involved doing the killing I don't think many would make it.

I'm curious what the old timey protein options looked like.

I know that modern vegans have a more challenging time sourcing protein.

Old time diets didn't have the same limitations that modern vegan diets do, so they could for example lean on eggs and similar options.

But if you subtract 90% of protein sources from a modern diet, they had to have been eating something to make up that deficit and I'm always in the market for possible ideas to improve my own diet. :)

> I know that modern vegans have a more challenging time sourcing protein.

I'm having trouble understanding your post, maybe because you got this backwards.

Modern vegans have a trivial time sourcing protein. Tofu, wheat gluten (seitan), TVP, tempeh, and all the infinite vegetable options available year round instead of just seasonally.

I will say it's not that easy to find seitan and tempeh in a lot of the West. Tofu and TVP these days seem to be everywhere. If you have an easy source for these (and don't have to make your own like seitan) be thankful. Though if you're vegan thanks for fighting the good fight :) (signed not a vegan but someone who grew up with a cultural disdain for eating meat)

> they would have been killing every single day!

Wut? A quarter of a steer provided my family of 3 with beef for an entire year. A quarter!

Yeah but you didn't only eat beef, and people choose the same cuts over and over (like chicken breast).

>This is reflected by a thousand years or so for most of the West with significant parts the calendar where there was abstinence from meat which for many now people would consider impossible. At most we would be periodic vegetarians, omnivores with the balance towards the vegetarian.

It's important to note that in the Christian traditional at least, fish and other aquatic animals weren't considered "meat" and were fine for eating on meatless days -- which survives to this day in the tradition of Friday being a common day to eat fish (Fridays were traditionally "meatless").

> The animals they raised were for occasional or special times not daily consumption

My mother was one of 14 kids growing up on a small farm in the West of Ireland in the mid-20th century. They ate meat (mostly bacon, home-killed and salted) cooked on an open fire 6 days a week, except during Lent

We processed and butchered our first two pigs earlier this year. Its not for the feint of heart, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

We raised them from a few months old (we took them from a farm that was having to close) and did the entire processing and butchering process ourselves. The meat is night and day better than what you can buy in a store, the bacon is delicious, and we know the animal lived an excellent life and had a near instant end.

"Processed". Did you personally see their "near instant end"?

There is a very humane way to kill mammals actually: inert gas asphyxiation. A pig will happily enter a chamber full of nitrogen and die peacefully. If you arranged that then it's commendable. Personally meat is nowhere near important enough to me to go to such lengths, though.

By processed I mean the act of skinning, gutting, and cleaning.

As far as the near instant end I mentioned, yes I did see it. I pulled the trigger myself, each pig dropped instantly. I wouldn't begin to claim that there is a humane way to kill anything. Taking a life is no small thing, though its a part of life it shouldn't be taken lightly and demands respect.

I had a bad experience with attempting to use gas asphyxiation to put down a baby chick that was suffering. It didn't go well unfortunately, and though I'm sure with just the right setup it would work really well, I don't have such a setup.

While we're on this subject, though very out of place for HN, I've never personally agreed with the idea that death can be humane. It seems to be a relative comparison if suffering from a third party's perspective. We never really know what one experiences when they die, we only know what we see and what appears to be suffering. We similarly assume that plants don't suffer when killed, frankly I just don't buy it. There's plenty of research showing communication between plants, why couldn't they feel pain or loss? Do plants truly not feel anything, or are they just so different from us that we don't recognize any signs if pain or suffering?

Sorry to break your bubble, but this is how people normally live on countrysides / small villages, at least in my country. Killing livestock animals is everyday thing and no one bats an eye.

Hell, even killing new born kittens / puppies is considered by some normal thing, if they breed uncontrolled (even if they could just... castrate / neuter them [not sure which is the right word for it, I'm not native]).

After all how is it different from a full grown chicken, other than the fact you don't normally eat cats/dogs?

Yep fully agree. I live in a small village near a country estate and lots of the people here kill and pluck their own foul, including myself. The ones that dont, have no issue with it.

When there is a shoot on the estate we request some of the birds and then through the season we regularly come home from work to find braces of dead pheasants hanging on our front door. We pluck them and then roast or make stews out of them and they are delicious.

It is common to walk through the village after a shoot and see dead birds hanging from most of the doors. Nobody complains or thinks it is strange, in fact everybody looks forward to the free meat!

Why would any of that refute "a lot more would be vegetarian"?

Because there are plenty of people who don't kill/eat certain animals but do slaughter other animals. This person in the thread described their new love for chickens, but I have a good feeling that they probably still eat beef or pork. But the "solution" to the vegan problem cannot be to surround everyone with farm animals, because when that was true for most people (100+ years ago), everyone ate meat that they killed themselves.

I think any good person can understand and empathize with the modern day practices of factory farming and meat production, but the solutions coming from vegans are also untenable in the face of human history. We can move away from unethical farming practices without removing meat from our diets and ignoring the absolutely huge benefits of eating meat as humans.

Because killing farm animals is considered a norm in almost all places who had done that since generations.

If you would be surrounded by chickens, livestock and other farm animals and watching them getting butchered was your daily bread as a child, why would you reconsider when you would grow up? It literally put food on your table, and besides home grown farm animals taste A LOT better (speaking from experience, but never grown them myself, any meat product I buy from the Walmart alikes tastes much worse).

Its only when you never witnessed death of any kind that you become so sensitive to it. Once it becomes normal (of course, I talk about farm animals here only) it's really hard to see advocates for vegetarianism as some sort of zealots.

And personally? What's the difference if they die of natural causes vs. just butchering them when the time is right? If you raised them ethically and they were generally happy, then for these animals its just... How it would end anyway? If you compare that to industrial farming, and if it was the only way to get meat sure I would consider being vege instead, its horrible how they are kept and treated. But for my own raised animals? Its a cycle of life.

People keep saying it's normal etc but then you'll notice everywhere it's always the poor people who end up doing the slaughtering while rich people get to pretend it doesn't happen.

I'm not sure that being desensitised is a good argument. People can become desensitised to a lot of things, like slavery or other abuse. That doesn't make it ok.

The difference is factory farming really. I don't think eating meat is wrong, per se. (But I do think a lot of people wouldn't miss meat if they tried it, especially the only eats chicken breast type). But factory farming is disgusting.

Fully agreed on factory farming. Not only is it cruel and unethical, but the quality is also much worse making vegetables actually a pretty good alternative.

On that note, let me tell you how home grown vegetables are also a lot better than... ;)

Well, from a philosophical point of view, vegetarian movement is unfair for the plants

Plants that are responsible of lots and lots of human well-being and as life beings deserve to be treated with a similar respect that we use with other organisms.

Incidentally is also bad for human health

Yes, it is. Those articles that claim that you can live on a strict vegetarian diet without any bad consequences for your health are either lying, incomplete or based in pseudoscience. Is basically a religious movement.

I have grown up on a purely vegetarian diet since I was born and I don't have any health problems from that. I know anecdotal evidence is usually not great and I will admit it is harder to maintain a healthy diet whilst vegetarian (but not too much), in this case it surely cannot be true that you can't live on a vegetarian diet without any bad consequences if I have done that?

What are these bad consequences so that someone can challenge your position?

Vegetarianism can be easily linked to a higher risk of chronic illnesses such as cancer, and heart, respiratory and neurological diseases.

What's the evidence for that?

I've been in such communities and they do bat an eye actually. If people enjoyed it then rich western people would be doing it for fun. Funny that I don't see the "kill your own goat" experience being sold in tourist packages.

Have you seen the 'Kill a cow with a grenade launcher' packages which are popular with stag parties in Eastern Europe?

No, but I'm well aware disgusting people exist. People abuse other people, but we generally agree this isn't a good thing. Also, pulling a trigger from afar isn't the same thing. I also wonder how many of those "real men" lose sleep after the experience. Emperor's new clothes comes to mind.

You seem incredibly closed to the fact that lots of very normal and kind people are fine with killing animals for food without issue. I assure you, there are many millions of them around the world.

I think there is a shade of grey between enjoying it and never doing because animals are another living being that don't deserve it.

If you are doing it as part of putting a good tasting food on the table, I would say no, no one bats an eye, but I suppose they don't enjoy the process too - it's messy process and requiers some safety considerations too like making sure your meat doesn't have any parasites.

> Funny that I don't see the "kill your own goat" experience being sold in tourist packages.

Some goats can kill you.

Hobby farming tourism is definitely a thing. Many well earning organizations host immersive events that include butchering classes.

Joel Salatin. Farmstead Meatsmith. Justin Rhodes. Etc.

I guess it depends on your definition of fun but rarely are people learning as an immediate need for survival.

Butchery != slaughter. And not many of those tourists can handle pig face, for example (I'm sure some of them force themselves to go through with it).

I did in fact go vegetarian after killing animals as a kid. I could do it now because I have a family.

That is an incredibly naive statement. Most people I know can kill and butcher deer, fish, birds, etc. 99.9% of the country isn't San Francisco.

I killed my first chicken when I was ~9 I think, maybe 10 at a push, my dad handed me the axe and said 'have fun'.

Still eat meat.

I see you're making wild assumptions about peoples' backgrounds, including hunger, income status, and whether they've ever been fishing or not. Check your privilege.

A $20k run?! Please tell me about this. My run and coop are maybe $1k total.

Are you not on any chicken social media groups? If you're paying someone else to build something with, uh, curb appeal — fully painted, metal roof, nice hardware — $20k is real easy.

I didn’t trust myself so I hired an awesome dude who did a great job.

Two years later we learned mountain lions are bigger and stronger than expected.

Sorry for your loss.

And that's kinda crazy bad luck. Every story I recall reading of a mountain lion getting into a chicken enclosure built well enough to defend against a determined racoon or fox has been a young cat strolling through an open door, not forcing their way in.

> Sorry for your loss.

Genuinely appreciated. I have lost many relatives and (human) friends in my life with causes ranging from murder to disease to suicide. The chickens are different, I think because I am completely responsible for their safety. They are true innocents and I screwed up.

> Every story I recall reading of a mountain lion getting into a chicken enclosure built well enough to defend against a determined racoon or fox has been a young cat strolling through an open door, not forcing their way in.

And same here. I didn't understand how strong the big cats are. Our Fort Knox is accessible only through a garage so that wasn't an issue.

Ah, I'm not social media apart from forums. I do watch a lot of coop and run builds on YouTube though. With that inspiration I bought a bunch of tools and am in the process of revamping my stuff to fit more with our house. It has the added benefit of making the chickens more a part of our little microecosystem as well since much of it is geared towards collecting their waste and pine flakes to make into compost. Even with all the tools added in I'm probably only at $2-3k.

I don't trust myself to get it right. This involved many bags of buried concrete for the main structure, special hardware cloth buried a foot down, expensive lumber during its peak prices during covid times, etc. I was running a faltering business at that time and was happy to delegate.

The domesticated chicken (Gallus domesticus) is a "curated" version of the Red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) which lives wild in the tropics, can fly short distances and is still entirely capable of breeding with chickens. The parks of Singapore are full of the things, and it's not unusual to see one strutting past the chicken rice stall at a hawker center, clucking at its unfortunate relatives that have been poached and strung up by their feet.


The argon tree (as in the argon oil in your shampoos and soaps) is also known as the "goat tree". Please peruse these phenomenal photos of trees completely full of goats. Everyone of them looks like an album cover for some mid-00s indie band



I’ve seen both chickens and goats in trees in Germany. It occurs naturally if the owner doesn’t care to much. Of course the goat will eat all the leaves and the tree will die eventually.

I really like the pictures from Morroco though, thank you!

It's argan, not argon. And the whole goat poop thing is just a urban legend guides like to repeat to naive tourists.

Thanks for the correction. Not sure what myth you're talking about. Goats are one of the main seed dispersers at this point and overgrazing can even be a problem. Goats do also climb argan trees naturally for fruit, but I looked it up and there is an issue of herders purposefully trying to put many goats into a tree for tourists to take pictures. I'd imagine you wouldn't see a whole dozen of them in a tree like this if they're just grazing alone but they certainly can and do climb trees for fruit. Argan isn't even the only tree they're known to do this with

The article you linked has a section about goats eating the argan fruit and pooping the nuts which are then supposedly collected to make argan oil. That's pure BS.

I see. Thanks for the clarification

What little experience I have is this: If a coop or other protective area isn't available at night, chickens will roost in a tree until daylight. (their vision is very poor in the dark, so running to escape isn't a real option at night.) The problem with tree roosting at night is owls or other night predators. The owls will position on the trunk side of the limb and side-walk the chicken towards the end of the limb until they fall to the ground, and then well, you know.

A friend of mine always checks his small flock just before dark for escapees from the coop. If the count is off, he always looks in the near-by trees.

Well... of course. Those are jungle animals.

Chickens roost in trees instinctively. Is a relatively safe place for those races that still can fly. Bantams either do it or look for a dense spiny shrub. Industrial races lack the confidence and are too heavy to jump safely without fracturing their hips.

Awww I love seeing chicken lovers on HN threads! I started a company called Coop specifically to make it much easier and accessible for anyone with a backyard to raise chickens. We make cameras that do a bunch of computer vision work for predator detection, door alerts, egg alerts, etc. We're at the point where we can now notify people that, "hey, raccoon is detected, door is closed and all chickens are safe". It's been a super fun company to build and right now 59% of our customers have never raised chickens before. I've always wanted to blend backyard agriculture with smart home technology and it seems to be working. Keep up the chicken-love!! Our website is www.coop.farm if anyone is interested or has feedback!

Very cool product! We got into chickens a few years ago and it’s taken over our life in a good way. Sounds like we’re in a similar boat as tomcam :)

I remember the first time my wife saw your coop, she said “that is what I wanted to build”, so you probably have some product market fit going on. We had already built our run at that time, however now she thinks a good supplemental product idea is a feeder with a camera. Like Petcube combined with the Grandpa’s Feeders product. She would definitely be up to chat about her chicken keeping needs and all the ideas that come with it. Her details are on her blog: tropicalchicki.com

Note for other HN peeps: If you really like cats and nature you probably will like chicken keeping! They have lots of personality and communicate in more ways than we are typically taught.

On the article, I wonder if people commonly see their first chickens in trees on islands. It’s a common thing in PR, which also has a lot of wild chickens roaming. Vieques, the smaller sister island off the east coast of PR, kind of celebrates this. Lots of chicken murals, themed gifts, names of beaches, etc

Aww thank you becomevocal! I love the feedback! :)

Looked interesting until I saw that there's a monthly fee.

> Just like your own flock, we need to feed ours in order to get eggs. That’s why our membership is required to unlock the full intelligence of your coop.

Down in Brazil, my grandfather used to shoot salt at the thieves climbing the trees to steal the chickens.

> shoot salt

I feel you might need to expand here

Painful non lethal shotgun shell filling.

Deters thieves without the flesh carnage of lead pellets | buckshot.

and for some Appalachian wisdom fill em with coal dust and you mark em so you can find em later.

I wish there was a way to do this with food in a common fridge, in my office.

Social policing. :)

Mark Twain wrote some humorous bits about how chickens may be enticed out of a neighbor's tree by sliding a warm board under their feet. They'll step on happily, and can then be conveyed to a convenient sack en route to the kitchen.

We keep chickens, but I rarely find them in trees. We also keep a heritage breed of turkey, the Royal Palm, and those guys love to sleep in the trees.

If you ever decide to start keeping chickens or turkeys, you will discover that most of the things you thought you knew about birds are wrong. They are fascinating creatures.

If anyone is ever in Florida, stop by Oviedo which is home to a colony of feral chickens that sleep in the trees of the town shopping center parking lot and are found eating scraps daily at the local KFC drive through.

There is a mini documentary out there on said chickens. They are kind of the town mascots.

One case of mad chicken disease coming up, although chickens don't really need their head.


> ...casting nervous glances at a rooster slowly approaching me like a Weeping Angel.

> Don't blink. Don't even blink. Blink and you're dead. They [the Weeping Angels] are fast. Faster than you can believe. Don't turn your back. Don't turn away. And most of all, don't blink.

I know this has nothing to do with the point of the article, but Weeping Angels are exactly the wrong analogy for something approaching slowly!

I think the comparison was more based on the rooster approaching when they werent looking and stopping when they were. I can't recall any other monsters that do that.

Indeed, this is the part of the behavior I was referring to :) It's a good point about the speed though - not the perfect analogy.


On population control... Are they generally considered safe to eat? That's the first thing I think of in this case...

Have laying chickens that free-range, and have eaten a couple of incidental and aggressive roosters. They are immensely tougher than the typical grocery store Cornish Crosses. Soup or braising is highly recommended. Coq au vin recipes meant for store-bought chicken (nearly all of them) will need to be adjusted back to add the required cooking time to make the meat tender. Plan on several to six hours of cooking.

None of the hens have aged out of laying thanks to the efforts of the local predators. Should that ever happen, it will surely require resolving the question of whether the hens are livestock or pets before I can tell you about how the cooking process varies from a grocery store bird.

The meat would probably be really tough. I'd think the only acceptable preparation would be braising or confit. They probably have a lot more parasites (worms) than you'd be used to as well.

I stayed in Kauai in 2012 and the locals said they do not eat the chickens. They said the meat is very tough and doesn't taste very good. They also said the chickens are useful because they eat millipedes, which are everywhere. They claimed that the sting from being bitten by one of those millipedes is unbelievably painful, and feels like a gun shot. I'm not sure about the gun shot part, but everyone seemed pretty serious about how painful it feels.

There's an ant called the bullet ant, so named because its sting feels like getting shot. Its Wikipedia page shows other similar nicknames in Spanish and in Portuguese. So, given that other bugs' stings have already been described as comparable to getting shot, I believe it when you say that they say the millipede's bite feels equally painful.

Its Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraponera_clavata

The localsn in Maui have a recipe for cooking the feral chickens there. Put the chicken in a pot. Add a lava rock. Fill with water. Boil until the rock is soft.

Those chickens have a lot of genetic legacy related with old practices of cockfighting. Being aggressive also helps with survival.

Races of chicken that were breed to fight are very slim and all muscle. Not much different than pigeons. Probably a hard meat. Old roosters of most other races are perfectly edible.

Of course locals could have more than one motive to not want foreigners eating the birds. Specially when there is an old and widespread tradition of let the chicken free-range around villages


"The proclivity of free-ranging indigenous village chickens for night-time roosting in trees" [1]

[1] https://cabiagbio.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s43170-...

Whether a chicken takes to trees is partly down to the breed. Bigger domesticated breeds are not suited to flying (due to their weight), but can jump up to 4-5 feet. Jungle foul and other smaller breeds can fly up in to trees to roost.

If you want the tree roosting experience at home https://www.iozon.co.jp/english/c-couch/

> did the cats eat the chickens and take their place

Maybe not the adults, who are big enough to be a challenge, but almost certainly the chicks.

A friend of mine who lives on a farm was trying to get ducks to live on his pond. He was advised to shoot all the feral cats he could find, which he did. He still has something of a problem with snapping turtles nabbing the ducklings as they swim, but he's working on that too.

By the title, I thought this was going to be about the theorized future of meat production as a kind of fruit, i. e., “chicken flesh growing on trees,” and the ethical questions surrounding that idea and the positivist worldview that leads to it being considered ethical, and if it is actually a good thing or not.

It would be an ironic (and sad?) thing if the human history of the chicken began in trees and ended in trees.

Related: a flock of 100 feral chickens living in the woods is "tormenting" a village in the UK:


Fascinating. The massive variance in the percentage of chickens that prefer roosting off the ground is interesting. I wonder what environmental pressures drives this decision.

Fox and maybe raccoon are the driving factors where I live. I have also seen cats going for younger smaller chickens. If the owner offers a safe shed which is closed up by night, there is no need for the chickens to rest in trees. They will voluntarily enter the shed in the evening.

My chickens roost in a tree in the back yard. It's an easy tree for them to get into, they can walk/climb up from the ground a fair way then an easy flap to get to their preferred branches.

In summer they disappear into the leaves, but in winter they're pretty obvious.

I don’t think there’s an XKCD for this, but there is a Sesame Street:


I remember in Morocco, they had tree-climbing goats. You'd be driving down the highway, and pass a bunch of trees, dripping with goats, and the goatherd, sitting nearby, looking bored.

Don't miss the ending!

Chickens can also swim

They also catch mice and swallow them whole. Jurassic Park style.

My mother's chickens once caught a snake, stampeded it to death and then promptly ate it. Dinosaurs for sure.

I can confirm at least that on warm water they float as ducks, and seem to enjoy the experience greatly. I was too soaked to appreciate the swimming style.

Hum, thinking about it, this is a great meme waiting to happen. All that you need is a warm Olympic swimming pool, to borrow some fatty velociclucktors and the cover of the night. Worldwide fame, here I go again...

Interesting, do you have any sources or pictures?

Do they favor the breast stroke?

Chickens are amazing creatures

Interesting timing: rogue chickens in the UK causing mayhem to locals because 200 chooks in the woods is ... noisy.

Now I have that darn Sesame Street song stuck in my head.

There are chickens in the trees

There are chickens in the trees

Won't you listen to me please

There are chickens in the trees


Cities in Flight is what immediately sprang to my mind

I'm extraordinarily disappointed that Doug Zongker's seminal work in the field was not mentioned or cited:


Previously on HN:



And a dang compilation from 2023: <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35746402>

Video: <http://yewtu.be/watch?v=yL_-1d9OSdk>

Author here (of the blog post, not of the literary beauty you linked). This is amazing. I'll add a mention.


The whole world is full of interesting things to see, new things to learn, if we just look.

Humans are gifted at ignoring the miracles that are happening right in front of them, everyday.

The world is indeed teeming with wonders and taking the time to notice them can bring joy and fulfillment in some ways.

Cathedrals everywhere, for those with the eyes to see

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