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Chickens

What this world needs is a four-legged chicken. Just think of the many times you’ve gone to the grocery store deli to pick up broasted chicken and how often the clerk told you there were only breasts, thighs and wings left in the case. Drumsticks are the favorite part of the chicken yet for some reason stores don’t seem to grasp that fact. Four legs instead of two would be a boon to the chicken industry, not to mention more happy families.

There are miniature cattle and horses so we know modifying size is not a problem. Perhaps appendages could be changed also. Poultry scientists just need to get excited about the possibilities and get going on this project.

Fortunately for the poultry population I will not be brought in to assist with these plans. I have a knack for killing chickens even when it is not butchering day. Years ago when I was a kid, we raised chickens, fryers and layers. After one or two big days of processing and freezing the fryers, we had an ample supply for the year. It was the layers that got me into trouble. On a day I was to put oyster shell out for them, I made a boo-boo.

Have you ever looked at rock salt and oyster shell to compare them? I hadn’t either and I fed the wrong supplement — the purpose of the oyster shell as fed to the chickens is it gives additional strength to the eggshell so it’s not quite so fragile. It’s like the difference in 10-pound paper and 40-pound paper.

“Pullquote.”

Rock salt is for making ice cream, spreading on icy sidewalks and for the life of me, I do not know why it was in the chicken feed storage room. I grabbed the salt — turned out we were out of oyster shell and there was just one bag sitting there. I gave it to the chickens and the next morning most of them were dead. Though they had water to drink nothing could quench that thirst nor overcome the effects of so much salt.

I wasn’t fond of the chickens and hated getting pecked when I gathered eggs, but I would not knowingly do something so cruel to any animal. I was glad we had already butchered so we didn’t miss out on great fried chicken.

In 2015, the country had a disease running rampant called bird flu that affected local, county and state fairs. It was announced that chicken shows would not be held in any venue that year. The cost of poultry in grocery stores and restaurants went up appreciatively. But those were piddly things compared to the losses incurred by poultry producers nationwide. Entire flocks died or had to be destroyed in attempts to stop the spread. Once the disease ran its course producers got back in business. All of us involved in agricultural production commiserate with such losses, no matter what kind of agriculture it is.

Peggy writes from a chicken-less farm in southwestern South Dakota. ❖


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Peggy Sanders

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