Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chicken #7: The Winnebago

I wanted to give this chicken a shout-out, even if no pictures of it exist. The only living descendants are the gold-laced Wyandottes, to which the Winnebago gave its reddish color:

Since the Winnebago chicken has been lost to the sands of time, I give you this video instead (turn the sound up, but use your headphones):

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chicken #6: The Naked Neck

Also known as the Turken, which makes it an acceptable substitute in turducken for two when you don't feel like shelling out for the whole turkey.

Naked Necks originated in Hungary and were purportedly developed to be easier to pluck. I'm not sure why, if you were going to make an easier to pluck chicken, you would just stop at the neck, but I'm not a Hungarian chicken farmer. (Only half Hungarian.)

Possible alternate theory: Naked necks were developed by vampires who were tired of getting a mouthful of feathers every time they wanted a snack.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chicken #5: The Cornish Cross

The chicken that we're most familiar with in its cooked form is not technically a breed. Like the Labradoodle and the Puggle, the most common meat chicken is a cross between a naturally double-breasted Cornish strain, and a large Plymouth Rock. Like most hybrids, they don't breed 'true' - you can't put two Cornish crosses together and be guaranteed to get a fat old broiler out of them. (In fact, I'd be surprised if they actually figured out how to mate, or didn't crush each other in the process.) They're developed from specially bred lines and sold as chicks with one purpose: to grow some ridiculous, Pamela-Anderson-style freak chicken titties as fast as chickenly possible.

Not surprisingly, this leads to a lot of developmental problems for these chickens, even in the best of care. If they don't outgrow the ability of their legs to hold them up, and aren't allowed to eat themselves into a heart attack at 6 months, the best they can really hope for is a year or two. (Granted, most of their buddies who end up at KFC only get 4-8 WEEKS, so I guess it's all relative.) Sometimes they're just too lazy to not die.

I won't PETA out on you - I eat chicken, myself, and it's not always humanely raised on small farms with rainbows and ponies - but I think it's important to face your food. When the food industry is reliant on chickens we've essentially bred out of the will to live, it might be time to reconsider the Dollar Menu chicken snack wrap.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chicken #4: The Silkie

The silkie chicken looks like something long overdue to be dragged around by Paris Hilton in a purse.

According to the completely accurate and authoritative source of Wikipedia, this is one of the oldest breeds of chicken, and probably originated in China. (Which means the Han Chinese equivalent of Paris Hilton was probably dragging one around with her in her purse.) A silkie's feathers are basically down feathers - they lack barbicels, which function like Velcro to keep the feather barbs locked together and sleek. They also have black skin, which makes for some very interesting Buffalo wings:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chicken #3: The Araucana

This chicken rules. Both males and females get a bitchin' old-timey mustache, which I can only assume they twirl evilly when we're not looking. (The tufts gene is fatal - chicks with 2 copies die in the shell - so breeders going for greater yields will cross a 'clean faced' bird with a 'tufted' bird to minimize that.) They also have NO ASS:

(So they are sometimes known as the South American Rumpless.) They also lay these!

Chicken egg colors are determined by genetics, but a good rule of thumb is that chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs, and chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs. Apparently not having an ass makes you lay blue ones.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chicken #2: The Jersey Giant

I needed to add a picture of this chicken with a person to show you just how effing huge this chicken is.

Like anything else from New Jersey, this chicken can kick your ass seven ways to Sunday. It is the largest breed of chicken, clocking in at 13 pounds for males and 10 for females. This chicken is the true 'Situation'. It was developed in the 1880s as a way to replace turkeys as a large roasting fowl. I think it was actually so farmers could make jokes about 'Hey, come check out my huge cock'.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Chicken #1: Red Jungle Fowl

I thought I'd start things off with the O.G. of chickens, the bird that is thought to be (one of) the ancestor(s) of chickens. The red jungle fowl is a wild bird found in Southern and Southeast Asia, and has the distinction of being rad as hell:

That's right: before we even domesticated them, this chicken was walking around Indian jungles looking like a total bad-ass. I'm not sure how you can improve on something that is this awesome right out of the box, but once we figured out these things were tasty, there was no stopping us