I am writing in response to the April 4 letter, "Farms should not rent chicks.”
Since initiating our chick rental program we've received some concerns about the ethics of our program and feel it is important to voice our response.
This program is primarily for the enrichment of the youth and families of our community. Many families are looking to have young chicks in their home for a few weeks during Easter but don't know what to do with the chicks as they grow older.
There are many instances where chicks have been poorly raised inside a home through “rental programs” and “school hatching.” That doesn't mean people are incapable of caring for animals; it means they have limited experience in having that opportunity. That is why we specifically designed our program to best educate the families and children about proper care for the chicks and have thus far had very few problems.
Currently, we've had two deaths of the 140 chicks sent to homes; that is on-par with our normal expected losses within our own detailed care program. We raise chicks in a safe, clean, temperature-controlled environment until they are four weeks old, big and well-feathered enough to live on open pasture.
This is also an opportunity for youth to learn to care for an animal. That is a real responsibility that will have a deep impact to a young person's life.
That responsibility is why it was clear to us to try the program, since we have chicks nine months of the year, people want chicks for two weeks during the Easter season, and one of our main purposes is the enrichment of our community through access to a real farm. We researched and developed what we felt was the best way to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the chicks, while offering an opportunity to families and children to learn the responsibility, care, respect and reverence for young chickens.
The program also provides an opportunity to expose families to the realities of the food system in which they participate every day.
This is not a chick rental program to make quick money; this is the beginning of a tangible relationship between families in the area and a farm that is trying to make a difference by providing fresh, wholesome food to its community and access to a farm raising animals and vegetable as they were created to be raised.
We hope everyone in the area can appreciate the value of this program. If not, we welcome you to visit our farm market at our farm any Saturday starting in May and we can show you what we believe in and how we strive to enrich the soil, our animals and vegetables and our community.
Greg Glenn, Poolesville
The writer is manager of Rocklands Farm.