- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2020

The media has proclaimed that America is experiencing a chicken renaissance due to COVID-19.

Chickens are now billed as the “coronavirus pandemic’s unlikely pet” by CNN, which documented the sudden rise in chicken fans who appreciate their “hilarious” feathered friends. The New York Post reports that those in and around the Big Apple also have experienced a chicken awakening.

“Forget adopting a dog during lockdown — city dwellers are springing for chickens,” the news organization said.

The Humane Society now offers an extensive primer for those who aspire to share their lives with a chicken. California’s San Diego County is sponsoring an upcoming virtual “Cluckinar” tutorial for residents who are interested in raising chickens at home.

In the meantime, sales of fancy backyard chicken coops have risen by 525% at Connecticut-based My Pet Chicken, which also sells chickens in 15 different breed categories from bantams to heritage breeds and “blue egg layers.” Sales of chicken themselves are up by 260%.

Other chicken-friendly companies offer every conceivable accessory, from tutus and leashes to custom made chicken diapers for birds who live inside with their human counterparts. Yes, there are those who do; even Walmart and Wayfair now sell stylish indoor chicken coops.

It is of note that chickens have now drawn considerable interest in the academic realm.

“Chicken: A History from Farmyard to Factory” by Paul R. Josephson has just been published by Polity Books, taking the reader from eggs and consumer issues to “chickens and world culture” and “Believing in Chickens” Keep in mind that the author is professor of Russian and Soviet History at Colby College, a leading historian of science, technology, and of Soviet history, and the author of 13 books.

“Chickens have millennia-long proximity to humans. Chickens, like dogs and cats, have lived with us in our houses, huts and barns, outside in the yards, and nearby in the fields. They become friends and playthings, not only meat- and egg-providers. They have been the focus of music and poetry, the objects of art and sculpture and the center attention of clubs,” writes Mr. Josephson.

“Chickens, as well, reflected norms and expectations of race and gender in the way they were raise and who raised them,” says the author, who has included much historical insight about chicken as meat source on an industrial level.

“Alongside this story, Josephson tells another: Of an animal with endearing characteristics that, arguably, can lay claim to being man’s best friend long before the dog reared its snout or the cat came in from the cold. Celebrated in medieval romances and modern cartoons, the chicken’s relationship to humanity runs deep,” the publisher Polity notes.

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