With so many urban gardens blooming these days, is a big push for urban livestock far behind? It's certainly been done before: Sacred cows roam the streets of Delhi, goats loiter along the trash heaps in Khartoum, guinea pigs hop around their pens in downtown Lima.
And we know the movement has strong supporters in the United States, with chickens in plenty of backyards and advocacy groups calling for the loosening of ordinances to allow miniature goats within the city limits. It’s a swell hobby with loads of entertainment value, but some people think it could be more.
Barring disaster of World War II proportions, it’s not likely that city dwellers with backyard menageries will displace feedlots as our main source of animal protein. But raising animals for meat in the city could well continue becoming more popular as people learn more about the perks. Urban livestock earn their keep by eating food scraps, weeds and other waste that would otherwise be trucked off to a landfill. They provide fertilizer for gardens, and since they're raised within the community, these animals lack the mystery meat mystique of cellophane-wrapped packages from the grocery store.
It’s hard to imagine pygmy goats ambling down the Magnificent Mile in Chicago or tilapia swimming around in city fountains. But perhaps sharing our living spaces with our food sources would make the lives of our livestock a bit more comfortable. June Komisar, an advocate of urban agriculture, said animal welfare supporters are likely to advocate raising and processing livestock close to home, since shortening the distance between where animals are raised and where they’re slaughtered is an important element in improving those animals’ quality of life.

Author

Austin Bailey

Austin Bailey is a writer and editor for Heifer's World Ark magazine.