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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Zombie Chickens!

posted by on December 5 at 16:26 PM

This is gross on several levels:

When Jim Stauffer of Petaluma saw a chicken crawling out of a mound of compost like the living dead, he knew something had changed at the egg farm next door.

“We called them zombie chickens,” Stauffer said. “Some of them crawled right up out of the ground. They’d get out and stagger around.”

Apparently, more than a half-million “spent hens”—those that no longer produce eggs—are euthanized and thrown on compost heaps every year in Sonoma County alone. Once upon a time, people would buy these hens and cook them; in recent years, however, the market for spent hens has collapsed.

I can’t decide what’s more disturbing: The idea of a chicken emerging from a pile of its dead comrades; the prospect of composting chickens in the first place; or the idea that a laying chicken, once its laying days are over, isn’t good for anything but fertilizer?

The “good” news is that the zombie chickens have inspired some entrepreneurs to propose alternative uses for the chickens: As to fuel to generate electricity; as feed for large reptiles like snakes and alligators; and as sausage for the poor. For now, though, all those ideas pose economic and technological challenges.

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Gee, after all those great alternate uses, why not just hang them on clips and use them for shooting practice?

Posted by K | December 5, 2006 5:36 PM

They would be good for people who feed their pets raw food diets.

Posted by Gryph | December 5, 2006 8:38 PM

I like the idea of feeding them to reptiles.

Posted by Gitai | December 5, 2006 9:02 PM

The phrase "spent hen" makes me very sad.

Posted by Mark Mitchell | December 6, 2006 12:42 AM

This is a sign of the current apocolypse, I assure you. Sick, wrong, morally reprehensible. Once you realize that this, in the end, is what unbridled capitalism will do.. then worry about you.

Posted by treacle | December 6, 2006 1:11 AM

I don't get it. In my far, far agricultural past, when I was involved in the care of chickens (whom I still hate to this day, and will gladly eat), Old hens ended up as stewed chicken (with dumplings!) at Sunday dinner. That's what "stewers" are at the butcher store.

I must say that our way of butchering was much more human than this zombie chicken scenario. My aunt was especially good: She'd pick up the chicken, cuddle it to her immense bossom (she bore more than a passing resemblence to a "Far Side" lady), and, while cooing to it, break its neck. Clean break everytime. None of this running around with its head chopped off business.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | December 6, 2006 8:10 AM

"Stewer" is much less depressing than "spent hen".

Posted by Mark Mitchell | December 6, 2006 10:21 AM

I own chickens--eight Buff Orpingtons who have the run of my rural property, amuse me with their personality and antics, and give me gorgeous eggs. This is just a reminder to everyone who cares about animals to at least choose free range eggs, or organic. It's very sad how miserable the commercial chicken's life is.

Posted by Sandra Kelley | December 6, 2006 11:41 AM

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