the chicken

After reading Cecil Adams’ discussion of cage free chickens I realized that you don’t see chickens in the wild (at least I don’t). Then I realized that you don’t see many wild dogs or cats either (at least not the typical dog and cat). Other pets have their wild counterparts, like horses, fish and birds, but dogs and cats just aren’t that common.

That made me wonder why chickens aren’t popular as pets. Maybe they are and I’m just not aware of it, but I’ve heard of people with ducks (unless they’re forced to give them up), pigs and other farm animals as pets, why not chickens?

But my real point is that chickens don’t lead a very pleasant life. As Cecil so aptly stated, we eat their progeny then kill them and eat them too. Not an enviable lifestyle in my mind.

Then of course there’s the question of why there aren’t turkey eggs in the supermarket? Cecil answers that one quite satisfactorily.

As you may have deduced, I recently discovered The Straight Dope and have been reading the questions and answers ever since.

A lone question remains: What question hasn’t he answered?


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  1. Chickens aren’t pets because they are mean, hateful, smelly creatures that deserve what they get. My grandfather had a chicken farm until my dad married. So trust me; chickens are evil regardless of what Disney tries to tell you. ;)

    Comment by Jan on April 6, 2004 @ 5:12 am
  2. I thought it was funny that good parenting is bred out of the chickens. That’s something I never would have thought of, though there tend to be some humans that are the same way.

    Comment by Cameron on April 6, 2004 @ 8:22 am
  3. Chicken aren’t cuddly. Well, fish and birds aren’t either (but then I don’t understand why peole want them as pets).

    Dogs have wolves and dingos for cousins, does that count?

    What about Atticus (sp?), isn’t he a tiger?

    Also, sometimes Petfinder has chickens and right now they have a goat you can adopt.

    Comment by Renee on April 6, 2004 @ 8:55 am
  4. Cameron: It would make egg-gatherers feel sad if the chickens cried when they took the eggs. I can see the reasoning.

    Renee: I thought about coyotes and wolves, but they’re only relatives. I haven’t seen any wild poodles or chihuahuas.

    Comment by dan on April 6, 2004 @ 9:19 am
  5. There are indeed wild dogs and cats, but they’re generally escaped domestic animals and their offspring. Though, in some areas, there are probably animals that are many generations removed from their housepet ancestors. You don’t see them because we have animal control people to get rid of them, because wild predatory animals tend to be menaces.

    And people do keep chickens as pets, and some people breed show chickens as a hobby. You should go check them out at the fair next time it’s around; some of them are pretty crazy-looking.

    Oh, and the Straight Dope rocks. I love Cecil and his humorous answers.

    Comment by Levi on April 6, 2004 @ 9:46 am
  6. Goodness, I had no idea people knew so much about chickens. I feel so sheepish.


    Comment by dan on April 6, 2004 @ 10:05 am
  7. Straight Dope is some good stuff — I could spend hours just digging through the archives.

    I’ve always thought that chickens were really cute & whimsical, but other people (who know a lot more than me) have convinced me that they are terrible pets — smelly, mean-spirited, and stupid.

    On the other hand, I’ve often thought that squirrels would be great pets, if they can be tamed. Perfect for apartment dwellers, eh?

    Comment by david on April 6, 2004 @ 11:58 am
  8. When I was growing up we had lots of chickens. Several of the favorites were set aside as pets. They have strong personalities, like dogs and cats. Some even enjoy being held.

    My friend Lori has chickens. There is even a little black and white banded polish chicken that wishes to be a dog. She wishes to be held, follows you around, wants to be invited into the house and would love to go for rides in the car.

    Another chicken (which was eaten by an unleashed vicious neighbor dog) loved to follow you around and peck at your toes if you were wearing pretty nailpolish.

    Comment by Mel on April 6, 2004 @ 1:02 pm
  9. David: I did spend hours reading through the archives, and I loved it. He’s able to answer questions with valid research, and yet it’s funny too.

    Mel: I stand corrected. I had no idea chickens could be so lovable and friendly. I think we should share a moment of silence to remember the poor clucker who was eaten by the vicious dog.

    Comment by dan on April 6, 2004 @ 1:41 pm
  10. I had a pet chicken when I lived on a dairy farm up in Montana. I don’t think I named her though. I did eat her eggs however. Chickens make wonderful pets. Hmmm, I want a chicken now. Dan, will you buy me a chicken? We’ll name him Ruprict and dress him in childrens clothing.

    Comment by jason on April 7, 2004 @ 2:56 pm
  11. That was a good one Jason. If I had been drinking something, the last part about dressing it in children’s clothing would have created quite a mess on the monitor.

    Comment by dan on April 7, 2004 @ 3:37 pm

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