Naming your Chickens

The Red one, The White one and The Black one

The Red one, the White one and the Black one
The Red one, the White one and the Black one

Should Chickens have names?

In the beginning exciting stages of preparing for our chickens the first thing we did was think of names, they were to be Berry (Chuck Berry) Num (num-chuck) and Norris (Chuck Norris) but five weeks later they remained tagged as the Red one, the White one and the Black one (even though the red one is actually brown).

This was Hubby's idea and his reasoning was to prevent emotional attachment to the chickens. He thought that by giving them a name we were giving them an identity and personality and that we would grow more fond of them and see them as pets with benefits rather than small farm animals - which in turn would make it even more difficult when the time comes to dispatch them. Of course Hubby always knew it would be he who would do the task, I am simply not up to it, and this is his way of making it easier. Some people keep chickens until the end of their natural life as pets once egg production has all but ceased, but we only have a small coop and they are part of our garden as producers of eggs, not pets, and whilst the financial loss of feeding a non laying chicken is not huge, it does defeat the point of having the hens in the first place. They are hilarious to watch, dumb and smart all at once and they add small farm charm to our garden. When friends came over to meet the chickens, and once the novelty had worn off for their kids, they told us that it was so natural to see chickens clucking about in our garden that it was like we'd always had them.

Hubby has been challenged by a friend of ours to a bet. She has bet him that he will not dispatch any of the hens and that he will fall in love with them and not be able to do it. This bet unfortunately (for the chickens and her wallet) has only made Hubby more determined to do it when the time comes.

In my mind we have in fact named the chickens, but Hubby insists by using "the" in front of the designated colour that they are simply tagged and not named, it is a simple way of identifying them and therefore the line between pet and egg producer has been drawn. I do agree to a point but surely a name is a word that you use to identify a person or animal and putting "the" in front of it doesn't make it any less a name it just becomes part of the name.

I must admit that I thought I would have stronger feelings for the chickens, and at first when we spoke of the eventual dispatching of the hens I was a little distraught at the thought of it. I even argued with Hubby as I felt that since the first minute we got them all he talked about was the slaughter (not recognising that he was preserving his own feelings from day one). However as time has passed I admit I do not see them as pets and do not have any warm fluffy feelings towards them. They are brilliant, noisy and smelly, charming and clumsy and their resemblance to little old ladies makes me chuckle. I give them their food, water, treats and attention and they are becoming more tame and easier to handle (I am delighted that I no longer have to chase them around the garden tripping over my flip flops to catch them and can just place my hand above their body and they submit to being handled). They follow me around, come into the living room (occasionally poo on the rug) and only yesterday the Red one and the White one simultaneously jumped onto my lap to steal my sandwich out of my hand. BUT the difference in feeling for them compared to my feelings to wards my cats is vast and so I think I may just be able to cope with the dispatching when the time comes.

I know how this will end, long discussions of "when" after noting of egg decline in one of the hens, me pleading with Hubby to give the poor hen just a few more weeks - after all she might be under the weather and egg production may pick up. Ultimately I will be told to grow a pair, the hatchet will be purchased and Hubby will do the job whilst I hide in the bedroom with my fingers stuffed in my ears.

In the end, for me, it is not the name that makes a difference to how I will feel but the realisation that this is their life cycle, this is what they are made for - to provide eggs and meat and when you decide to keep chickens you just need to figure out what as, farm animals or pets and once you have made that decision its easy to know what to do.



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