BY: AGAVNI MEHRABI
Picture this: There’s no one else in the house. The whole building is eerily quiet, confidingly empty and devoid of anything interesting to do. Except, there’s no reason to ask the average person to picture the previous scene because it’s been the reality for many in quarantine. There is a remedy for this dreary situation. Enter: the quarantine chicken solution.
When someone thinks of chickens, the mental picture probably has a background of a big old barnyard, fields of wheatgrass and cows mooing on the hills. While this is one of the settings chickens may be found in, chickens can make incredibly fun and useful pets for people living in the suburbs.
First of all, chickens lay eggs. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average hen will lay 276 eggs every year. Some may dismiss this advantage as relatively useless for a middle-class suburban family who can buy eggs at the local grocery store, but quarantine has exposed the frailty of this way of thinking. No one would have thought toilet paper would become scarce on retail shelves. Who’s to say there won’t be a chicken egg panic, as well? The thought may seem like a joke but just think about it. Not enough time has passed for everyone to be completely certain food supplies will not become contaminated, or to be absolutely sure animals will not contract a separate strain of COVID-19. There’s no harm at all in being prepared and choosing the sustainable option of raising a chicken or two. Plus, the eggs are just as amazingly fresh as home-grown vegetables are compared to the commercial farm versions.
Some may say the aforementioned benefit is simply not worth it when considering the level of maintenance required to keep chickens. Rest assured, those who say so are residents of suburban communities who have never raised a chicken in their lives. Coming from a proud chicken owner, the only maintenance that requires frequent attention is washing the coop out with a water hose every other day. There is no need to walk them, as they enjoy running around backyards just fine. There is no need to watch them, as they are sufficiently independent. There is no need to feed them, as their water and grain containers have enough capacity for several weeks’ worth of meals.
Finally, to solve the boredom issue, chickens are really puppies in feathery disguise. They chase their owner when they catch sight of a handful of sunflower seeds, just as dogs run after a bone. They coo with their cute little voices to get their owner’s attention, just as dogs whine for playtime. Beyond that, Dr. Lori Marino of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy has found that chickens have developed a complex neuroanatomical, cognitive, and social understanding that is on par with the sophistication expected from mammals, making them not only effective playmates but also valuable companions.
There’s no reason someone shouldn’t adopt a chicken or two this quarantine season. They provide sustainable sustenance, they’re easy to take care of and they make the fluffiest companions of all.