DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Families in cities nationwide have discovered the joys of backyard chickens, and hundreds of cities have approved ordinances allowing the animals.
But the trend also has created a growing problem -- abandoned chickens.
Hens lay eggs reliably only for a few years but can live a decade or more. Many families are hesitant to kill a chicken that has grown up in their yard, so they instead turn them loose or take them to a shelter.
As a result, more old hens are showing up at animal rescue organizations. The problem worsens when the weather turns cold.
Chicken Run Rescue in Minneapolis, for example, saw the number of calls for help climb from six in 2001 to nearly 500 last year.