By Gil Sturgeon

A group of Quebec MRCs were scheduled to visit Italy on a composting fact-finding mission but because of the Covid crisis it had to be done by Zoom. Italy is one of the world leaders in reducing organic waste in landfills. One secret: mandatory chickens in urban and rural back yards.

Feeding kitchen scraps to chickens reduces organic waste by 75%, according to studies in Italy, a country which has made chickens part of its green agenda.

“Following the example of Italy the Brome-Mississquoi MRC will mandate the use of chickens to reduce organic garbage and take pressure off landfills,” said an official of the MRC. Though much organic waste goes to make compost, many households still mix organic waste in with regular garbage. This creates problems in landfills by producing methane gas, which makes the landfill unstable and contributes to the problem of a greenhouse gas buildup.

As of May 1, 2022, rural households will be required to keep at least three hens; those with larger properties will be required to keep more. The thinking is that people will be encouraged to feed kitchen scraps to the chickens, greatly reducing the stress on the overstretched waste system.

Urban households, in places such as Cowansville, will follow suit in 2023. The MRC says it will contribute to the cost of poultry housing as well as subsidizing the cost of purchasing the hens. Roosters are discouraged because of the noise factor. The government in Quebec City is thinking of taking up this initiative across rural Quebec.