Saturday, August 29, 2009

When Food Talks

It’s fair to say that chickens are the most domesticated animal you can find. I always buy 8-10 live chickens when I go to our dacha in Racha. I enjoy having them around, providing great meat. This year I bought older chickens than usual because I wanted to test out egg production. What is crucial to find out is WHERE the chickens lay their eggs. You can run around looking for days. But as it seems, chickens starts to cackle intense when they have produced an egg. You then need to listen, and look from where they come, and scrutinise the surroundings nearby. Then you might find the secret place. When you find it, then mark the egg with a text-marker or pencil, and leave it so the chicken feel safe it’s a good spot to lay eggs. The next day the same thing will happen, and then you can take the next egg, leaving the marked one. One of the chickens in secret managed to adopt the bathroom as nest. The bathroom on our dacha has a separate door which can be accesses from outside the main building if left open. One day we found an egg in the basket with dirty clothes.
Why this cackling after they have laid eggs??
We have to go to science and ask this question. In Georgia there is a firm believe that the chickens cackle because they have a sore ass after pressing this huge egg out. I am not so sure. It seems like a major designflaw from nature if this is the case, so I would test the following hypothesis in a social constructivist perspective: Chickens cackle when having laid an egg because the want to make the other chickens aware of their deed, and then be recognised as important members of the chicken community.
Dr. Beaumer and his chick-talk tapes to the rescue!.
One should think that a quick “google” would solve the mystery, but no. Today chickens mostly is kept inside in extremely tight cages, and therefore there are no need to go looking for the eggs, so the information is scarce. But fear not, The Animal Welfare Movement found the traces of Fowl linguist Dr. Erich Baeumer of Wiedenau, Germany, who has been studying chickens since 1954. The good doctor proclaims that he keeps a list of 30 sentences which are part of a spoken international chicken language, be it an Indian Jungle fowl, a Russian Orloff rooster, an Italian Leghorn, a Cornish cock or a New Hampshire Red. Again accoring to the Animal Welfare Movement Dr.Baeumer was only eight when he realised that he could understand the chickens around his house. "It was an intuitive understanding, I could actually tell what they were saying. I began to spend hours with them; they became brothers and sisters to me," he says. In 1954, he started working with Professor Erich von Hoist at the Institute of Behaviour Physiology near Munich. After recording hours of chicken talk, Dr. Baeumer selected examples of clear-cut chicken "sentences" that could be related to records or photographs of specific actions. Dr. Baeumer’s chick-talk tapes have been played at universities in many countries (Animal Welfare Movement).
The hardcore facts about the chicken and the egg
Hens make a cackle when they have laid an egg, but Dr. Baeumer does not think they are boasting or saying, "Thank heaven that’s over." He believes that it all goes back to the days when wild hens laid eggs in hidden nests. After each delivery, the hen gave a loud cackle to regain contact with the rest of the flock. "Chicken behaviour is not too different from human behaviour," says Dr. Baeumer, " Nor is the chicken language" (Animal Welfare Movement).
I must remember that when I chop off the heads of those poor chickens.

2 Comments:

Blogger Khatia said...

Georgian Network: http://vartvart.ning.com/

I invited some of my friends and remembered also about you, as you write about Georgia too. We have there English speaking group too. If you have interest, join us. This comment can be removed, meant to be personal message :) Thanks!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009 3:05:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Khatia:-)

Eistein G.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 11:38:00 am  

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