What’s with all the chickens?

Picture of a young set of chickens growing up. (2015)

Chickens are my autistic special interest. I’ve had an interest in chickens ever since I was a young child helping to collect eggs on the family farm. I was especially thrilled with the blue ones. My grandma also collected chicken things (usually kitchen towels, pictures, etc.). An autistic special interest is an intense focus on a topic (either broadly or more narrowly) which when indulged helps relieves stress. It’s an autistic person’s “happy place” and those around me can affirm I’m the happiest when I’m with my chickens, caring for them, or talking about them. I feel a kinship with them because they’re often overlooked or seen as common.

Chickens are a large part of my homestead. My focus is on Easter Eggers and various crosses with them.

Chickens are considered commodities and treated as “mass produced” items, rather than the unique individuals they are. Sound familiar?

Chickens have great memories and can remember over 100 faces. (They certainly know who feeds them!) They have strong color vision including wavelengths we can’t see. Mother chickens talk to their babies in the shell. There are over 55-60 breeds of chickens recognized worldwide and they come in more than 25 colors, not including mixed breeds (“barnyard mix”). Eggs can be a variety of shades of blue, green, white, tan, or cream. And yet, most poultry production relies on just a few breeds and treats them as products, not living creatures.

This feels like the way capitalism and corporate interests see workers as interchangeable capital. They don’t see our uniqueness, our individual talents and personalities, and that we deserve to be treated as someone with value, because all people have inherent value.

Stock photo of an egg laying operation.

Picture of a carton of my chicken eggs taken a few years ago.

Chickens get taken for granted. You don’t have to. There’s no magical reason why farm fresh eggs taste (and look) better than the ones you get from the store. They’re also often more nutritious. It’s because free ranging chickens often have a more varied and better diet than production chickens. Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up connected with our family farm, or my Associate’s Degree in Agriculture, but happier animals, fed a variety of things, live healthier, better lives. And we do too when our wellness is centered around what we need, rather than checklists, advice that wasn’t even designed for our bodies (including ethnicity, size, or gender) or based on outdated stereotypes and beliefs. It’s time to stop being a commodity and start feeling nurtured, cared for, and free range your way to radical wellness.