Here’s Why There Are More & More Chickens Roaming in Singapore


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Why did the chicken cross the road?

Reader: …To get to the other side?

Wrong, the real question we should be asking is why there are even so many chickens in the first place.

In 2022, we panicked about a shortage of chicken when Malaysia announced they would stop exporting chickens to Singapore. About a year later, we’re faced with a different issue – too many chickens. Live, breathing, walking chickens.

In the past, you’d probably associate roaming chickens with Bishan, Pasir Ris, and Kembangan. Those are called free-ranging chickens, which roam freely outdoors instead of being confined.

However, nowadays, these chickens are starting to appear in more and more neighbourhoods, they’re basically turning into stray cats.

@funencounter #chicken #HDB #Singapore ♬ The Chicken Song (Tchip Tchip) – The Dancing Chickens

Just a few weeks ago, I passed by this chicken in a random neighbourhood. Don’t even ask me how it got up on the fence, let alone how it’s balancing.

Image: Kimi Tan

Even if you haven’t seen them, you might have been woken up by roosters crowing in recent months.

Apparently some of these roosters are going crazy and are crowing at 3am or 4am.

Reader: Since when got so many chickens?!

Turns out, complaints about chickens have been increasing.

In 2020, about 1,000 complaints about chickens were made to government agencies. In 2021, this number ballooned to 1,500.

Reader: Huh? Just stray chicken only still want to complain?

Well, if you hear roosters crowing all day every day and see huge flocks of up to 30 chickens wandering around together, you might just lose your mind and report it to the authorities too.

Most of these chickens just walk under the sun, minding their own business, sometimes alone and sometimes in a group.

I’m not exactly sure how they can survive under the hot sun on scorching concrete ground. If I were them I’d turn into fried chicken so fast.


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Stray chickens aren’t exactly a problem, they’re kind of just like bigger versions of our regular sparrows or other birds we see all the time.

The problem is when their population starts to increase. Because these chickens have been increasing in number, we’ve started seeing chickens on roads and in city areas. They’ve also overtaken uwu birds , waking people up in the mornings by crowing.

Oh, and one more thing – they also shit everywhere. At least this one cannot drop on your head like Orchard Road.

The situation got so bad that in 2022, there was even a task force, comprising residents and animal welfare groups, acted to reduce the chicken population in Sin Ming. The task force aimed to reduce the population of free-ranging chickens in that area from 90 to about 50.

Measures included sending some chickens to farms and dissuading residents from feeding the wildlife. They even set up nets and pruned trees to prevent chickens from nesting in them.


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Where These Chickens Are Coming From

Pet Abandonment

Before 2020, chickens were still everywhere, just not as much as now.

At that time, many people were still keeping chicken as pets.

Reader: Huh? Singapore can keep chickens as pets meh?

Yeah, apparently so.

When COVID-19 hit Singapore in 2020, most of us were stuck at home. We couldn’t go out to malls anymore, attend parties, see friends, exercise, go shopping – basically, we could do nothing but stay at home.

While some started doing Chloe Ting’s ab exercises, and some made dalgona coffee, others decided to get pets. After all, it can get pretty lonely when you’re locked at home, especially if you live at home.


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Once restrictions eased up, and people had to return to work, many found themselves unable to care for their pets anymore. Some were also put off by increasing pet expenses. This lead to many choosing to abandon their pets.

Other than dogs and cats being abandoned, chickens were abandoned too.

Stray cats are a very common sight in most neighbourhoods, but it’s usually fine because volunteers send these cats to be sterilised so they don’t overpopulate.

Chickens, on the other hand, don’t usually get sent to be sterilised. Chickens can hence breed as much as they like and easily overpopulate.

Feeding

While there are some who are annoyed by the loud crowing and growing presence of chickens, there are some who don’t mind the chickens. In fact, they treat these chickens like stray cats, and even feed them.


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Note: anyone caught feeding wildlife anywhere in Singapore can incur a maximum fine of up to $10,000.

The increase in bird feeding has led to an increase in chicken population. The availability of food increases their survival rate, causing the chicken population to get slightly out of hand.

The more chickens are fed, the more survive. The more survive, the more reproduce. And what does that give us?

More chickens!

You may have seen old uncles or aunties tearing off pieces of bread to feed to chickens, and often, they do so out of the kindness of their heart. Unfortunately, such feeding can be harmful to chickens.

As mentioned before, an abundant source of food can lead to overpopulation. As the natural habitat area supporting these chickens remains the same size, the increased competitions among chickens for food and shelter may force them to venture out of their natural habitat and into more human-occupied areas.

Just recently, a chicken was even spotted at in Singapore’s city area at Guoco Towers.

@qmraindrops A rare encounter in Singapore’s city area. This chicken was roaming around Guoco Tower in the moring. #chicken #singapre #singaporetour #singaporechicken #lostinthecity #singaborecbd ♬ Me and My Pet – Eitan Epstein Music

When these chickens venture out, they’re put at risk of being injured or run over by cars.


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The sweetened pastries or chips fed to these chickens also do not meet their nutritional requirements. In some cases, these processed foods may even induce illnesses in the chickens or make them more susceptible to disease.

And of course, leftover food unfinished by the chickens can also attract unwanted guests like rats and cockroaches.

However, many chicken feeders may not know these facts, and hence continue to feed chickens.

Thunderstorm in 2022

A thunderstorm in 2022 has also been linked to the increasing chicken population. On 30 March 2022, a thunderstorm severely damaged at least two farms in Murai Farmway near the Lim Chu Kang cemetery.

The Straits Times reported that while chickens were seen trapped in the collapsed structures at a farm, some had managed to escape.

Given that it would take significant manpower to collect all the chickens back, combined with the fact that the escaped chickens were “contaminated” after eating random food scraps or even trash from the ground, the chickens were no longer fit for sale in the market. Hence, it would do the company no good to go and look for them.

These chickens were then left to the wild.

Since free-ranging chickens have few natural predators in an urbanised country like Singapore – apart from the occasional stray cat or god – these chickens were free to live and breed. And breed. And breed.

This happened almost two years ago, and the incubation period for chicken eggs is about three weeks. So, in the near 100 weeks that have passed since the farm collapsed, the chickens have been real busy.

Due to these three reasons, the population of chickens has been steadily increasing in Singapore.

Can I Eat Them?

No.

Free-ranging chickens can’t be randomly grabbed whenever you see them for you to make DIY Jollibee.

Under the Parks and Trees Regulations, it’s an offence to capture or displace any
animal within a public park here without the approval of the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation.

And of course, injuring or killing an animal in a public park is an offence, too.

Earlier this year, a man allegedly captured a wild chicken and was said to have killed it. The Straits Times reported that the man allegedly appeared to be de-feathering the chicken.

Image: Facebook (Joel Lee)

And, even if it was legal, these chickens are probably eating random scraps they find on the floor. A random MacDonald fry here or KFC leftovers (is that considered cannibalism?). Maybe even some plastic. Would you really want to eat stray chickens?

Is There a Solution?

Unfortunately, there seems to be no solution for now.

The increasing number of abandoned chickens has caused shelters and sanctuaries to run out of space to house them. The cost of housing them is also placing financial burden on some shelters.

For now, a starting point would be education.

Anyone who went to secondary school or uses the internet will probably have heard of the phrase “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest”.

Chicken feeders have to be educated on the disadvantages of feeding chickens so that we can leave the chickens to find their own food and let nature keep them in check.

The supply of food in nature will balance out the chicken population and keep it at a reasonable level. Just let nature do it’s job.

And obviously, if you have a chicken, don’t just abandon it. Pets are not toys that you can throw away when you’re bored of them, be a responsible pet owner.

You can also watch a cat talk about this issue here: