By Daisy Luther
There isn’t much that feels more self-reliant than going out to your backyard hen house to get fresh eggs for breakfast. There’s no need for USDA approval, you know what your hens have been eating, and you don’t have to pay a premium price and hope that the farm who raised the chickens that laid those grocery store eggs actually treated the hens humanely. Bonus points if the bacon you fry up comes from a local farm, and bonus BONUS points if you raised that little piggie yourself. Raising backyard chickens is incredibly rewarding.
It’s pure freedom, this control over your own food.
Of course, until you have to register your chickens. Then, as food freedom activist Joel Salatin says, “Everything I want to do is illegal.”
With so many people moving towards self-reliance, you had to know it was only a matter of time before the government got involved.
And now they have. But don’t worry, it’s all for your own good.
In North Carolina, the state’s Department of Agriculture wants to protect you against the avian flu. So regardless of the number of chickens you have, you must register for a state farm ID number as of August 1, 2015. Surprisingly, this if free. Not surprisingly, this is mandatory.
Up until the recent avian flu fear, farm registration was voluntary. Now, even families with two or three hens in a nifty little moveable chicken tractor in the backyard must register.
According to State Veterinarian (who knew there was a State Veterinarian?) Doug Meckes, this is vital. “In planning our response for highly pathogenic avian influenza, one problem we’ve come across is that we can’t protect birds that we don’t know exist. We need to know where poultry are located so we can properly protect commercial and backyard flocks.”
Chicken owners must fill out a FORM LIKE THIS and declare all of their animals. According to the state’s website, this won’t be used for any other purpose than health tracking. “Information gathered through registration will be used solely for animal health purposes. This critical data will provide animal health officials with necessary contact information in case of an animal health concern and help identify animals and premises that may have been affected.”
Of course, I figure once you register your chickens, they’re no longer really your chickens. The state is just letting you use them. Think back to Michigan, a couple of years ago, when a farmer was forced to destroy his heritage pigs because the state said so. Who can forget the shepherd in Canada whose beloved sheep were thought to be a threat and summarily destroyed? Personally, I’d prefer that my chickens remain happy little libertarian chickens, footloose, fancy free-ranging, and unfettered by a license.
Given the history of any type of registration (cough *guns* cough), is it any stretch of the imagination whatsoever to think your backyard chickens or your small homestead will not become vulnerable to some kind of future “public safety” mandate? Don’t you think they could be subject to seizure or execution based on the whims of the state? And what do you think will happen to families who don’t register their chickens? Do you really honestly feel safer with the state knowing your business? Am I going to have to write an article about stealth chicken keeping to aid and abet wannabe backyard chicken bootleggers?
While this is presented to the public as a way to keep everyone healthy, don’t be fooled. It’s “game on” in the war against self-reliance.