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Huh. Well, tompfrompv wasn’t kidding with the link: chicken glasses were a thing. You can tell from the tone of the article at right that they were always a subject of fun.

They sold millions of them, though, under several patents. One of them had rose-tinted lenses on a hinge, so when the chicken looked down, the lenses swung away and her vision was normal, but when she raised her head the tinted ones fell into place. A complex solution to a simple problem.

Not pecking each other’s eyes out. Jesus. I never heard of such a thing.

Feather pecking and cannibalism. Chickens go a little coocoo at the sight of blood and can peck at a wounded chook, sometimes unto death. These days, you either separate the injured bird until it’s all better again, or you spray an antiseptic on the wound that also hides the color.

As for feather pecking, that’s an odd one. They taught me in Chikken School that feather pecking is never a hostile act, it’s a displacement activity. If a chicken can’t scratch and forage, it’ll peck at the feathers of other chickens instead.

But that’s a problem of big factory flocks in overcrowded barns, and that’s a phenomenon that began in the Fifties. Back when these things were invented — the patent in the article is from 1903 — all chickens were more or less free range. So I dunno.

They fight feather pecking with beak trimming these days. Beaks aren’t quite like toenails; they do have a blood supply and feeling. Some of the methods used in the past to trim beaks were pretty ghastly. These days, at least in Britain, trained chikken technicians swiftly run a laser across the end of their beaks when the birds are quite tiny. This kills the blood vessels, painlessly they think, and the tip of the beak just falls off later. Losing the pointy end is enough to discourage bad beak behavior.

Brits are so soft about animals, I’m happy to say, I really did feel much better about commercial chicken practices after learning more. Even the big cage operations aren’t as awful as you might think from that YouTube your cousin linked you to on FaceBook.

And to expand on my announcement below, Jenny has indeed laid her first egg. And then angrily attacked it. It frightened her. I think it’s a case of this weird object just came out of my bottom and it hurt. None of the little girls like being handled, but she let me pick her up and stroke her for a while after this most upsetting experience.

And then she did it again today. Two days, two eggs. I guess we know who the superstar is going to be.


Comment from MikeW
Time: August 1, 2016, 8:53 pm

We have a house in a wooded area in Ol’ Virginny with some largish windows. We’d occasionally find a dead bird that had thumped, full speed, into one of the windows and done kilt itself. (Thankfully this kinda stopped when we repainted from a dark brown to a much lighter color.)

So, one day I hear a loud thump on the window and walked right over to look down and see if the bird was only stunned or ‘cleanup on aisle six’ was needed again. As soon as I looked down another bird flew right down to it and pecked it’s eyes out. Needless to say, ’twas me that was stunned. Erk!

Now here’s my thought, I know that different breeds of dogs have quite different traits and behavior characteristics. Could it be that you’ve lucked out with your chikken breed selections so far that you’ve not gotten ones that hate being looked at by other chikkens? (Mo-o-om… he’s lookin at me!)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 1, 2016, 9:10 pm

I belong to half a dozen chicken groups online, though, and I’ve never heard of eye pecking. All kinds of feather pecking and aggression, but not eye pecking.

Though I do know you have to be careful of birds and eyes generally. I have an auntie who lost an eye to a pet crow, and I was really very cringey around my chickens at first.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: August 1, 2016, 10:49 pm

I was thinking, wouldnt it be better if your chickens could fly? That way they could evade predators. Now, they may take off on you tho I think the free meals would encourage them to stick around.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: August 2, 2016, 1:35 am

One of my High School classmates’ father and two uncles had a part-time, mostly-somewhat-seasonal business, for many years, making (and selling, of course) Chicken Glasses – from what he once related to me (we were both somewhat “under the influence” at the time, but still…and I knew, already, at that point, what they did from prior [totally-sober, AFAIK] conversation with him, et.al. – that’s how I knew to bring up the subject), there wasn’t a bunch of money in it. According to him, the need was due to the salient fact that chikkens, when in the throes of “pecking-order” aggression, would, often enough, persist in the attack until drawing blood – and the red/pink-tinted lenses would supply that sighting of the color that would slow or terminate the aggression.

Dunno, personally – though I once did Chief Feed/Water-Dispenser Refiller And Swamper-Outer duties for a (roughly) 30′ X 40′ chicken-house (plus outdoor “run” of maybe 5 times that size, ‘tween there and the corn-crib) populated by about 100 (or less – the population went down as the year went on; lotsa chicken dinners and a freezer partly full of Fall and Winter “put-by” provisions, y’know?) of the critters (Grandparents on my Dad’s side came to spend the Summer and early Fall in a trailer on the farm where we lived, and Grandma reverted, for awhile, to her “farm-girl roots”…and there was this big ol’ empty chicken-house, just sittin’ there…plus, a wee surplus of Teen-Age Boy Labor…), and while there was undoubtedly a certain pecking-order prevailing, it was pretty busy in that place, and I didn’t spend any more time in there than what was required by parental/grand-parental pressure (didn’t smell all that sweet, y’know? – plus, there was only one rooster after a short while, and he and I didn’t get on at all; early-on, I took to carrying a sawed-off broomhandle – he needed re-convincing every few days that my ankles were not to be trifled-with), so I never paid any attention, really, to exactly the outcome of any internecine chikken battles…besides, this was all a couple of years before I ever knew about chicken glasses at all.

I can tell you this much – for most of that Summer and Fall, I had not much use for eggs for breakfast – though, I did enjoy the fried, broiled or baked chicken for dinners all that Fall and Winter…

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: August 2, 2016, 5:12 am

Did you purchase any of the glasses? It would make for an interesting experiment if nothing else!

Comment from Mr. Dave
Time: August 2, 2016, 2:26 pm

When the kid daughter did 4H we had 75-100 chicks to get six show fryers and two alternates. Fed them our homemade chow with corn shorts, grains and butter. Lots of butter. Get up in the middle of the night to stir the chickens so they’d eat something. Eight pound fryers! Whoever has worn the best trail to the chicken house usually wins. Best part was buncha chicken in the freezer. And dumplings.

Comment from Mr. Dave
Time: August 2, 2016, 2:30 pm

Okay now I thought of R. Crumb and Zap Comics #2.

“Set my chickens free!”

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: August 2, 2016, 3:08 pm

Here in the PNW we have big black birds that go “Caw!” I always figured they were crows – just big ones. Eventually I went to one of those “How to tell them apart” web sites and nope, the big ones are ravens.

Which creeps me out somewhat. You can’t look at that beak and tell me that it didn’t evolve specifically to pluck out eyeballs. And Odin always is accompanied by ravens, right? The story about how he lost his eye is BS, I know it. He’s covering for his bloodthirsty pets.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 2, 2016, 5:55 pm

A country feller out here told me if you see a solitary rook, it’s a crow and if you see a bunch of crows, they’re rooks. I don’t know if we have ravens.

Ric Fan, my chickens can fly. I never clipped their wings in part because I thought it would help them evade predators. I was a little concerned they’d fly off at first, but it’s never been an issue.

To be honest, they’re lousy flyers. The littler they are, the better they do. The old girls can’t lift more than in inch or two above the grass, and seldom try.

Comment from Nina
Time: August 2, 2016, 7:38 pm

There are Ravens at the Tower of London, anyway…very pampered and spoiled Ravens. 🙂

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: August 3, 2016, 1:29 am

I saw those ravens back in the mid nineties when I visited London. Pampered and spoiled they are… but then, they’re Royal Ravens. And in fact, much of England (as is nearly all of Western Europe) is pampered and spoiled. Comes of a millennia or more of the same limited land being tended and manicured.

When they’re not spilling each others’ blood all over it, I mean.

Anyway, the legend is something along the lines of the monarchy will stand so long as the ravens remain on the Tower grounds. And therefore their pin feathers are carefully clipped so as to prevent flight.

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