Crying fowl over chickens

KHUSH RANDHAWA

Waking up in the morning to the sound of chickens crowing can be quite pleasant.

However, it is ruffling the feathers of some people in Singapore.

It was even discussed in Parliament. The MP of West Coast GRC recently asked about the number of complaints in the past five years over the noise and smell from free-roaming chickens.

In reply, Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How said that from 2017 to 2021, agencies and town councils received about 2,400 "pieces of feedback" on chickens in HDB and 1,700 in private residential estates. He did not specify how many were complaints.

Similarly vague, the National Parks Board (NParks) said it received more than 1,000 reports on free-ranging chickens each year since 2020.

The chicken nuisance made the news as early as 2017, when the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said it put down 24 chickens that were wandering around Thomson View and Sin Ming Avenue.

It was then reported that there were about 20 complaints from residents there, mainly about noise.

A public outcry ensued and NParks clarified that it was not because of complaints of noise, but the risk of exposure to bird flu that led them to cull the chickens.

A task force was set up to deal with the chicken population at Sin Ming and its chairman Goh Sim Cik rightly observed that the majority of residents didn't really have an issue with the chickens. They could deal with and accept the crowing and what not.

Then, there is a small yet fanatical group that wants all chickens gone - dead or alive.

There is also another group which has been blamed for making the problem worse by feeding the birds - leading to an increase in reproductive rates and chicken lifespans.

NParks does its part by advising residents not to feed the birds and to manage their numbers by removing eggs and reducing roosting sites.

In addition, let's make it more fun by organising hunting parties on weekends.

Don't know how to catch a chicken? Turn to your Filipino or Indonesian helper for guidance. She knows how to catch it, behead it, clean it and make a tasty chicken curry or briyani.

This will also make Singapore slightly more sustainable.

Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

tabla@sph.com.sg

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