Episode 56.

In this episode, we talk about sweaters for chickens, share a few ideas on the quest fake chicken meat, and explore a few more chicken myths.

Empty Nest Syndrome

Our six month old puppy, Gordo, spent a week living in the house while recovering from his surgery. Just a few days ago, he was able to get back outside with his playmates Sadie and Max. As much as we enjoyed having him in the house, it is nice to have it all to ourselves again.

Chicken Sweaters

We start the news segment with an article that two of our good listeners shared with us. Jim in Virginia and Yulia in California tipped us off about a woman and her mother in England who knit wool sweaters for half their flock… about thirty birds wearing sweaters.

This sounds unusual, but the half of her flock that get the sweaters are former battery cage hens, and they believe that the birds are not able to tolerate the cold weather. I’m not sure if this is really necessary or not, but I hope their sweaters don’t shrink in the rain. But how often does it really rain in England?

Fake Chicken Meat

Beyond Meat is in the process of perfecting a plant-based meat that they hope will be indistinguishable from natural chicken, beef and pork. If you have ever tried the existing vegetarian offerings, you know they have their work cut out for them.

In a similar story, a group of scientists in Israel is attempting to develop genuine meat cultured from genuine chicken cells. Their hope is to provide meat eaters with a perfect meat-replicant that does not require the slaughter of animals.

The CEO of Beyond Meat was quoted as saying that one of his goals was that future young people wouldn’t have an awareness that meat ever came from animals. He should read comments on Facebook articles, because I think many adults are already unaware that meat comes from animals.

Exploring Common Chicken Myths

In this episode, we are tackling six more myths about chickens.

Chickens Should Be Raised in Jungles
Because chickens descend from jungle fowl, some people believe that chickens should be raised in wooded areas rather than on pasture. Some go so far as to say that pasture is unhealthy and unnatural for poultry.

In reality, chickens bare few resemblances to their early ancestors, thanks to centuries of breeding to create animals more suited for the farm environment. Chickens benefit greatly from grasses, which are hard to find in the woods. What’s more, the leaves found in wooded areas bear very little nutritional value for chickens, and are difficult to digest.

We are calling this one false.

Roosters Are All Mean
While it is possible for roosters to become mean, and certain breeds are more likely to develop an ill temper, this can be avoided in many male chickens by handling them often when they are cockerels.

Rooster Are Always in Charge
While it is the norm for a rooster to take on the responsibilities of guarding and directing the flock, it is not always the case. In flocks that do not have a rooster, the head hen will often take on the task of being in charge. In rare instances, hens have even taken on the chore of crowing.

Even in flocks that have a rooster, it is not unheard of for the head hen to decide the rooster is not doing his job well and take over for him. This happened with our flock of our New Hampshire Reds.

You Can Put Diapers on a Chicken
Sadly, this is true. They make diapers specifically for chickens so that you can bring them in the house to live with you. Although this is possible, we don’t think it is a great idea. Chickens are dirty animals and are perfectly suited to living outdoors.

Chickens Are Dangerous to Children
There are circumstances where children who are too young to follow cleanliness protocols could become sick, or an aggressive rooster could injure a child, but for the most part this is false.

Eggs from Backyard Chickens Taste Better than Store Eggs
If you have chickens, you will swear this is true. Science, however, is not on your side. Blind taste tests show that if test subjects are not allowed to see the eggs they are eating, there is no clear winner as to which has the better taste.

The big question is, is vision part of taste? It is commonly accepted that smell plays a big role in how things taste, and chefs always love to say you taste first with your eyes. Taste tests have also shown that if taste testers can see the eggs they are eating, the do prefer the taste of farm fresh or backyard eggs. They think this is due to the richer color of the yolks, which set them apart visually from the pale versions you find in the stores.

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