It’s a hen’s life…eating mice?

The Private Life of Chickens – Poultry World reporter Scott Casey gives his verdict on the BBC2 programme:

“The latest instalment of Jimmy Doherty’s The Private Life of Chickens begins with the only slightly horrifying image of a chicken choking down a fat mouse like a snake. Even if I didn’t have an interest in poultry this was enough to draw me in, if just to confirm it’s normal for chickens to eat mice(it is).

There is plenty of scientific exploration of chickens and some wonderful idyllic images of the countryside full of wily hens and cockerels pecking about in paddocks.

Doherty meets rural founder of the British Hen Welfare Trust, Jane Howorth, at her farm in Devon and spends time finding out about her chickens and the behaviour of birds.

Segments on farm deal with scientific experiments into intelligence and communication, even delving into the rare ability of some hens to apparently transform into cockerels.

These parts of the programme are interspersed with the history of the domestication of the chicken and the development of the modern love for chicken meat and eggs as sources of protein.

But unless you have a bit of a love for farming, the subject matter becomes a bit drab, with the experiments tending to drag.

As a little bit of a fancier, and someone who has previously pondered getting backyard hens, I have to say I enjoyed every shot of the birds clucking about in the paddock.

And I still can’t shake the image of that chook inhaling the mouse. Next time I buy chicken, forget corn fed – I’ll take mouse.”

Did you see the programme? What did you make of it? Share your thoughts on the Chicken Chat forum.

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