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Chickens are a passion of mine. For over 20 years, I have kept chickens as pets, some of them even as house pets. You cannot live day in and day out with an animal without gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of the species. I have experienced beautiful friendships and heartbreaking failures with them. But through everything, one thing has remained true, that without them there would be an inconsolable void in my life. My hope is that through my photography I can create awareness of the unique characteristics of these amazing creatures. They are complex animals with the capacity for intelligence, affection and tremendous personality. They can be bold, shy, curious and loving. They have the ability to create profound bonds with other birds as well as with the people that love them. They learn, love and even grieve for lost loved ones. In each of my photographs, I attempt to show that there is great beauty in these animals. That which has been long considered a utilitarian component of farm life has the potential to display a profoundly different aspect. I strive to illustrate the unique personality attributes and qualities of each of the birds that I photograph. I hope to use this medium to create a greater appreciation and understanding of these creatures.
There is currently a deep vein of retro culture emerging where many urban and suburban people are choosing to keep chickens as part of a more sustainable lifestyle. They acquire them as utility animals in an attempt to educate, entertain and provide a healthier diet component for their families. It is a very popular concept, yet few of these people acquire sufficient education on the practice and therefore are going into it without the knowledge necessary to properly care for the animals they acquire. In general, hens are only productive for approximately 3 years. Then there is a choice that has to be made. Either a commitment has to be made to care for them for the remainder of their 10 year average life span, or they need to be humanely recycled into our food supply. I personally don’t eat poultry, but I take no offense at people who do. It is a natural part of farm life. Where the cycle breakdown occurs is that hobbyists are not farmers. They rarely have the stomach for making their backyard flock into food and they lose interest in caring for the birds when they exhaust their utilitarian value. They realize that it can be expensive and time consuming. So they abandon them at shelters or worse release them at a park to fend for themselves, which is an automatic death sentence.
Another problem facing chickens is a matter of selective breeding. There is a demand for fancy breeds that have specialized colors or feather features. So breeders, in an attempt to maximize profits, often inbreed birds for the highest potential for these special characteristics. The unfortunate by product is that they create genetic mutations and constitutionally weak birds. These birds are then discarded as unwanted collateral.
Through my photography and my writing I hope to foster awareness of the amazing attributes of these remarkable creatures and at the same time educate people to some of the problems that they face. I strive to see that as many birds as possible have the best quality of life conceivable by my own personal efforts with the birds that I keep and through educating hobbyist and owners on the consequences of their actions. Whether a pet or a utility animal, we all have the moral responsibility to provide the best quality of care through diet and lifestyle, health care and environment to any animal that we bring into our lives.

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