Celebrating the Beauty, Charm and Intelligence of this
Vet: Human-chicken bond goes far beyond table
Ed Jordan for The Billings Gazette
Posted: Saturday, August 1, 2009 12:00 am
This article is for the birds -
Have you ever considered a chicken as a
There is chicken in our lives every day,
but it is mostly inside a bun, grilled or crispy or over-easy on our breakfast plate. Those kinds of chickens are produced by the millions and
feed us daily.
I’m talking about chicken by the ONE, with
a personality - up close and personal.
I have raised chickens for years, and most
of the flock members are only part of the group.
However, sometimes there is one chicken
that stands out and becomes a pet. Such was Big Red, He was a rooster that was free-roaming and was a Rhode Island Red
Some roosters are mean. They will chase and
attack other roosters and even be aggressive to small children.
But not Big Red. He was the meek one of the
I started noticing him because when I would
walk to the barn, he would come running toward me and meet me half way there. He hung around me and followed me.
Once I noticed him, I decided to try to
tame him further. He always roosted on a table in the barn, so, each evening when he was in his nightly seat, I would grab him and hold
At first, he was frightened and fought a
little. But, after doing this for maybe four times, he started to be relaxed and enjoy the petting. It wasn’t long before Big Red would just
stand and wait for me to pick him up.
Now, I don’t understand chicken talk very
well, but I could swear that, when I held Big Red, he gloated a little. He would make some light chicken talk as I held him, and he seemed to
be a little prideful that I was holding him and not the others.
It seemed to be his personal glory and
probably helped his chicken ego because he was not the top dog of the flock.
Lots of people have chickens as
It was always hard to diagnose and work on
sick chickens because we were taught in vet school that the way to diagnose sick chickens was to sacrifice one of the sick ones, do an autopsy
and figure out what was wrong and then treat the other million chickens so they wouldn’t get it. That’s a hard way to do it if you have three
pet chickens or especially if there is only one.
Chickens, whether pets or just part of the
flock, offer a lot to humans.
Besides the eggs and meat, there is a lot
to be gained by sitting down and just watching a flock of chickens. They make a gazillion sounds, some of them almost human. They start
crowing at about 3 a.m., not when the sun comes up.
Roosters will find worms after a rain
brings them to the surface and gently pick up the worm and then make a clucking sound that brings his hens running. He then drops the worm and
lets the hens eat it. One rooster probably dropped ten worms before he ever devoured a worm himself.
Quietly watching a flock of chickens can be
medicine to the human soul. The sounds, their actions and their beauty are amazing. Try it sometime. You will be amazed as