Chickens

As part of the "natural is better" movement, many Americans -- particularly those who live in the city and know absolutely nothing about agriculture -- have decided that playing farmer is a fun pastime. It certainly can be a fun hobby... that is, until the vomiting and diarrhea begin.

The CDC reports that 10 separate Salmonella outbreaks, affecting 48 states and DC, has sickened 790 people and hospitalized at least 174. The outbreaks have been linked to hatcheries where people handled ducklings and chicks.

Chickens and other poultry can carry Salmonella. Not only can this pathogen be found in their feces and environment, it can also be found on egg shells. That's why, according to...

Calvin Trillin tells a story of taking his out-of-town friends and relatives to New York’s China Town to play tic tac toe against a chicken. Frequently, the chicken wins and Trillin reports that the vanquished foes often defend themselves by saying, “But the chicken got to go first” or that “the chicken plays every day.” I love that story, which hides behind a paywall here.

Lori Marino, in Animal Cognition, brings some science to the issue of just how smart that chicken might have been in a meta-analysis of chicken cognitive research. Spoiler alert, if you love fried chicken and knowing that pigs are intelligent interferes with your love...