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There's one big hitch to the practice of farming chickens in a backyard: If all you want is eggs, the hen you raised from a chick will quit laying within three years and live for another seven. For some urban farmers, it's great to have a goofy bug-eating, fertilizer-making bird pecking around. Others simply butcher the eggless birds. But, according to Oregon farm-animal sanctuaries, there are more and more urban farmers who can't stomach killing their birds but don't want a avian pet and its vet bills for years to come. Then there's the problem with roosters. Even though male chicks can be identified early on, it's hard and often a chick grows into a city-ordinance-violating rooster. Just last week, Wayne Geiger, the founder of Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in Scio, woke up to three roosters dumped at his shelter. Lighthouse, Green Acres Farm Sanctuary and Out to Pasture Sanctuary are all at their limit for roosters, which are territorial and often aggressive toward anything encroaching on their turf. Only Green Acres can handle more hens. At his urban farming supply store, The Eugene Backyard Farmer, Bill Buzek says that educating new chicken owners is a big part of his day. He says he makes it clear what to expect, and the tough decisions that need to be made when egg laying stops. To him, backyard farmers are a responsible group: They're taking back their diet from industrial farming and own the whole process of making their food.
The National Institutes of Health announced it plans to retire most of the chimpanzees it uses in research. Part of the reason the NIH sited was their similarity to humans and the fact that chimps in captivity are listed as threatened, with their wild counterparts are listed endangered. The agency says it will retain 50 chimps for study but it will not breed them and it will reevaluate that policy in five years. The Northwest is home to two of the eight members of the North American Sanctuary Alliance, one in Bend, the other in Cle Elem, Washington. We'll find out more about how chimpanzees and humans are similar and explore the research implications of the NIH decision.
A Hermiston man wants to open what could be the first horse slaughter and processing facility in the country in five years. The last slaughterhouses that processed horses closed in Illinois and Texas in 2007. Those facilities were shut down because they were seen as inhumane, but the consequences weren't entirely positive. Now many feral or unwanted horses simply end up being shipped further — to Canada or Mexico — to be slaughtered, or they end up shipped to pastures in Oklahoma or Nebraska where they live out their 15 to 30 year life span, running a tab for the federal government of $30 million. These consequences of the slaughter ban led PETA to advocate for lifting it, saying it only made the treatment of horses more inhumane. The Humane Society of the United States, however, says bringing back slaughterhouses is not the answer. It says strategies such as fertility control and horse sanctuaries are better alternatives for dealing with feral and unwanted horses. UPDATE 3/22/12 4:30 pm: During the show, our guests debated whether the use of phenylbutazone, or "bute," would prohibit horses from being eaten in the U.S. and E.U. We fact-checked the issue and found phenylbutazone is banned from being given to ANY food-producing animals, including horses, in both the U.S. and the E.U.
Opal Sunrise Spirit, JR Spirit and Silver Spirit were born on a buffalo sanctuary just outside of Bend over Mother's Day weekend. These devastatingly cute calves are the first recorded white buffalo born in Oregon. They're part of what is believed to be the world's largest herd of white buffalo, 14 total, living on the 280-acre sanctuary. The caretaker of the ranch where they live believes the chances of a white buffalo being born is one in ten million. She says the addition of three more to the estimated 50 in existence is like winning the buffalo lottery. Big Mama, a brown buffalo on the sanctuary who has mothered three white buffalo, is expecting another buffalo bundle this month. These buffalo are so rare that some Native American cultures consider them sacred.
The friendship between a journalist and a sloth highlights sloth sanctuaries and rehabilitation.