Why did the chicken cross the road? Do you know? Me neither, and apparently neither did anyone else. For years this question has haunted us and even our most vaunted scholars could only venture a guess. But now, the answer has been revealed. Perhaps not in so many words, or via a confirmation statement issued by an unimpeachable source, but even in my age addled state, I can read the pecking’s in the dirt. And the answer may surprise you. It did me. It seems that the chicken crossed the road because the swing set was on the other side. Yup!! As simple as that.
How did I reach this conclusion you may ask, assuming you are still with me. Well, truth be known, it dawned on me while reading an article in this mornings paper. It was about Perdue (the chicken people) and some changes they are making in the raising and production of chickens. It seems that they have concluded that, when it comes to fun, chickens end up on the short end of the drumstick. I had never given that much (OK any) thought to how stimulating the lifestyle of a chicken was. I mean, my exposure to chickens usually doesn’t start until we meet in the supermarket, and by then, it is too late to determine if I am buying not only one that is fresh, but also one that was the product of an upscale environment.
Specifically, the article says “The firm announced a plan that focuses on animals’ wants and needs”. Now, on the surface, that sounds nice and touchy, feely. But after additional thought, I began to wonder just how you do that. I mean, I can’t even ferret out the wants and needs of my wife. How do you go about extracting that info from a chicken? Are there ‘chicken physiologists’ that can be called in to evaluate the degree of dissatisfaction with their surroundings or whether low egg yields can be directly linked to depression? Beats me, but it appears we are about to find out.
One of the things Perdue has decided to do is install window in the hen houses and compare birds’ health and activity to enclosed housing. Alright. I’ll admit it pales in comparison to installing TV’s, but would I be wrong to guess that the chickens that can now spend their days staring out the window would be less productive in the egg category? However, if the goal is to fatten them up, add a few cheese curls and some couches and they will no longer have a need to even go out. This has worked for me and several friends. I’d call it a win, win.
Now here is the part I liked the best. Assuming the chickens with windows begin “laying down” (pun intended) on the job, they go on to say “in an effort to address growth rates that cause discomfort, the company says it will study play and activity with a goal of doubling chickens’ activity”, and that dear readers is how I discovered the swing set thing. If you want to get them up and out the door, you need action games. Physically challenging activity. Board games won’t cut it. You need to make them want to be outdoors. I’m sure there are plenty of activities that can be provided. Offhand, I can’t think of any, but perhaps they could hire the Aflac duck. I have seen him playing golf and doing yoga.
So, there you have it. The mystery exposed. It will be interesting to see where this goes. I can envision, a couple of years from now, while mom is shopping with her toddler in the cart, picking up the wrong chicken and her kid screaming for the one with the toy in it.
P.S. They might consider installing a couple of cocktail lounges. I have found them a great place to meet chicks. Just sayin.