Mr Noel Tan, who runs a chicken repatriation group on Facebook, said much of what is fed to wild chickens is “junk food” and not ideal for their nutrition. As with any wild animal, feeding should be discouraged, he said.
“Nutritionally speaking, it’s not very good for them – it’s like, say, bread, isn’t it? It can be hard for them to digest. Indigestion can make them die,” said said Mr. Tan.
“A hen can produce eggs every day, which are rich in protein. Where will they get protein from if their diet contains only carbohydrates? The nutritional requirements are therefore very important, especially for chickens because they regularly produce eggs.
NParks advises members of the public not to feed wild chickens as this leads to overcrowding.
“Feeding of all animals, including chickens, is prohibited in green spaces managed by NParks. Free-range chickens are able to forage for food in their habitat and do not require food from humans to survive,” Ms Kwok added.
“Food scraps from feeding can attract other pests, such as rats, which carry disease and pose a risk to public health. The public can help mitigate population growth and congregation issues by not feeding away from birds and properly disposing of leftover food.
Mr. Chong said people continue to feed the wild chickens in Sin Ming. This changed the behavior of the birds, he added.
“One of the big problems is that…many locals throw food on the floor which changes the behavior of the chickens. Because they will come and ‘be ready’ in the evening and wait for the aunts and uncles come,” he said.
THE GROWTH OF A HOBBY
Besides wild chickens, interest in raising ornamental chickens has increased in recent years, said Tan, who also runs Clucking Good, a website where owners can buy feed, vitamins and supplements for their pets.
According to NParks guidelines, no more than 10 poultry, including chickens, are allowed to be kept in any one facility. Owners are also subject to the rules of the facility’s managing body, which may or may not allow them to keep chickens in their areas.
HDB previously said it was not permitted to keep chickens in apartments.
“The number of people keeping (these pets) has easily increased five or 10 times since I started keeping them, so definitely people are more aware of chickens as pets… You also see celebrities raising them,” Mr. Tan said.