Happy Chicken New Year

Well, 2013 is finally behind us and, it turns out that, just like all years, 2013 was a pretty funny year for chickens.

Chickens might be the most practical of pets. They don’t require a lot of work, they produce tasty eggs and, for some people, meat. But they also lend themselves to the weird and strange.

One of our favorites from the year was the story of the Australian woman who saved her daughter's blind hen from downing by giving her CPR – for 3 hours! Pretty heartwarming, but still a bit on the edge.

In the just plain strange category was the artist who converted an old police car into a chicken coop. We don't know if we should call it a chicken tractor or a chicken coupe.

And, if you're into celebrities, 2013 brought a bumper crop of A-list chicken coops. You can see who's keeping hens in our June 19 CLUCK blog post.

And then there was this heart-warming story from British Columbia: Orphaned Bear Cub Found Living with Chickens.

A severely malnourished and orphaned bear cub has been rescued in B.C.'s West Kootenay region, after it was found co-existing with hens inside a chicken coop. The Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter in Smithers, B.C., was alerted to the cub's whereabouts on Sunday, after the tiny bear was seen on a farm in the village of Midway. When found, Tinsel, as he's being called, weighed only 10 kilograms. Angelika Langen, who works with the shelter, said this was a first in the 23 years she's been rescuing animals. "Usually they break into the chicken coops and eat the chickens, not eat with the chickens," Langen said. It is thought the bear, now named Tinsel, was living in the coop for nearly five days.

Of course, our favorite “weird chickens” story of the year was the demonstration we hosted at CLUCK with Giene Keyes, who showed how she uses clicker training (operant conditioning) to teach her chickens to perform on command. If you missed the demonstration, we hope to bring Giene back in 2014 to show how much her hens have learned. You can read about her demo in this Wisconsin State Journal story.

The weird and wonderful world of chickens shows no sign of slowing down in 2014. Recently, we saw this story from Marketwatch, titled Trendy Hotels Add Beehives and Chicken Coops.

“Green” hotels have served produce from their own gardens for years, but some are taking it a step further. Across the nation, hotels are cultivating beehives and chicken coops to offer guests fresh — and (hipsters rejoice!) locally sourced — honey and eggs, as well as opportunities to interact with the wildlife (yes, even the bees). Fairmont hotels now have beehives installed on 21 of their rooftops, including those in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Vancouver, Dallas and San Jose, housing more than 2 million bees and producing roughly 5,000 pounds of honey each year. The Waldorf Astoria in New York has six hives abuzz with roughly 300,000 bees, and The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa near Denver has five hives and 150,000 bees.

Recently, chickens have joined in the trendy hotel offerings, as two California-based resorts installed coops on their grounds this year. Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley now has 12 chickens living in its reclaimed-wood coop (which also has chandeliers and framed artwork). Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel Valley installed a chicken coop on its land last month “as a natural evolution of its growing farmstead experience that already includes Italian honeybees.” They also plan to compost the chicken manure.

What will 2014 bring? We predict that there will be more weird and heart-warming chicken stories and that more people will discover the joys of chicken keeping. We would love to hear your favorite chicken stories from 2013. If you have a good one, please share and maybe we will put it on our blog. Happy chicken new year, everyone!