Fancy chickens were all the rage in the late 19th century, so Lewis Wright's Illustrated Book of Poultry was a big hit. With hundreds of pages of high density chicken information and dozens of beautiful chromolithographs by ornithological artist J.W. Ludlow, the book stayed in print for more than 40 years. Harvard University just digitized the book for public viewing. Here's their blog post about it. [more inside]
"Don't look at them directly,” Rie Henriksen whispers, “otherwise they get suspicious.” The neuroscientist is referring to a dozen or so chickens loitering just a few metres away in the car park of a scenic observation point for Opaekaa Falls on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. As the two try to act casual by their rented car, a jet-black hen with splashes of iridescent green feathers pecks its way along a trail of bird feed up to a device called a goal trap. Wright tugs at a string looped around his big toe and a spring-loaded net snaps over the bird. After a moment of stunned silence, the hen erupts into squawking fury. Biologists see in the feral animals an improbable experiment in evolution: what happens when chickens go wild?[more inside]
And the answer is none. None more black. A look at Ayam Cemani, a breed of chicken so black you half expect to see it smoking clove cigarettes and listening to Bauhaus. Black feathers, skin, muscle, bones, and a black, black heart. [more inside]
In the records of human conflicts, there are at least three Chicken Wars. Two left little mark on the world at large, and the third resulted in some strange work-arounds for heavy tariffs. The first was Wojna kokosza, the Chicken or Hen War of 1537, when an anti-royalist and anti-absolutist rokosz (rebellion) by the Polish nobility resulted in near-extinction of local "kokosz" (an egg laying hen), but little else. The second was an odd spin-off of the more serious War of the Quarduple Alliance that lasted from 1717 to 1720. Though most of the activity happened in Europe, there were some battles in North America. The Texas manifestation was the capture of some chickens by French forces from a Spanish mission, and a costly overreaction by Spanish religious and military men. The third Chicken War was a duel of tariffs during the Cold War, with the only lasting casualty being the availability of foreign-made light trucks in the United States. [more inside]
Ding Baozhen (1820-1886) was a governor of Sichuan province during the Qing dynasty. The emperor bestowed upon him the title Gōng Bǎo - "palatial guardian". He supervised the reconstruction of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. But he achieved immortality through the dish named for him: Kung Pao Chicken. [more inside]
Iconographie ouvrages anciens is a collection of historic animal illustrations that date as far back as the 16th Century, courtesy of the library at Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Lyon. [more inside]
How to Butcher a Chicken. From killing to plucking to gutting and freezing, Herrick Kimball takes the budding poultry farmer step by step through the process.
"Over and over he scoops up a chick with his left hand, expels its droppings with a squeeze of his thumb, opens its vent with his fingers, peers through the magnifying lenses attached to his spectacles and determines its sex." It's a dirty job (YT). Sexing chicks early is important so that the cockerels can be separated and culled^ or fed to be broilers^. The obvious differences take weeks to develop, so when the vent sexing method was developed in Japan in the 1920s, professional chicken sexers became sought after. [more inside]
This is Our Slaughterhouse "I never thought of making a documentary. It took a friend to convince me that not everyone grew up working in a slaughterhouse. I realized the slaughterhouse I had worked in all those years was bizarrely entertaining enough that it might make an interesting documentary..." 22-minute short film on a small-scale poultry processing plant.
The Last Days of the Ark: "We found that in 90 to 95 percent of turkeys produced worldwide, the genetic stock comes from one of three breeding stocks" but there are heritage breeds being preserved throughout the world. American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Heritage Breeds Conservancy. Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Rare Breeds Canada. Rare Breeds Australia, with by far the best Breed Profile pages. New Zealand Rare Breeds. Desert Heritage Breeds. Rare Steeds. "Eating these breeds may be the best way to save them", so, for shopping. [more inside]
Poultry Internet!? YES! Though poultry have been known to have high levels of cognition and feeling many of us with busy lifestyles have a hard time fulfilling their needs. And some poor souls can't even be near poultry as a result of allergies. What to do? Why not a cybernetics system allowing for network-enabled remote haptic stimulation and feedback of poultry? Confused? Well, there's "The Office System where user fondles with the doll." and then that hooks up to "The pet (rooster) with pet dress." hopefully recapturing "our sense of togetherness with our animal friends, just like times gone by on the prairie, village, or jungle.". A bit of oddity brought to you by the Singapore Mixed-Reality Lab, who actually do a lot of cool stuff like AR human pacman; and they've got the videos to prove it.
"Use of wood chippers has not been endorsed by the AVMA as an acceptable means of euthanasia for poultry." This story is old (June 2003), but it sure did catch my eye. There but for the grace of Fargo...go the chickens. Broccoli, anyone?
Melinda Lee's Turkey Basics includeing the Ultimate Brine and cooking the turkey upside down so the breast-meat stays juicy. If you are doing the Brine start now. What other last minute Turkey Cooking Tips?
Theeeeeeeo! You got to stop using the zipangededly googly JELL-O mold with the meat! And stop hanging out with the Cockroach!
It's Lunchtime. You know what that means: Meat. Mmmmmm... I'm salivating like Pavlov's dog just looking at it! What's that? You're in the mood for poultry? So tasty. Bill Cosby from Leonard Part 6 would be proud! (Whoever else has seen that movie gets a free Hat of Meat. I vaguely remember it, but suffice it to say they don't make enough movies where the hero wields raw meat as a weapon against has-been disco queens and her army of gay bodybuilding henchmen.)
Perdue to become the next Intel? According to today's Washington Post, researches at the University of Delaware have filed a patent to improve microchip performance by replacing silicon with a compound made from chicken feathers. Test show that chicken feather chips are twice as fast as silicon chips. If this works, be on the lookout for chicken farm IPOs.
Did anyone actually make Turducken last week? I figure since you have to de-bone everything, if I start now I might be ready by Christmas. But will it be worth it?