Regency Chickens, Because Why Not?


Wench 4th c bce etruscan

Fourth Century BCE Etruscan chicken beaker

Joanna here, talking chicken history, with special attention to chickens in the Regency.

By this I mean historical eating chickens rather than show chickens or fighting chickens or pet chickens, though I imagine some Regency folks kept chickens and became very fond of them. I will talk about pet chickens later.

Not everyone agrees chickens are pet material.

Look in the eye of a chicken and you’ll know. It’s the most horrifying, cannibalistic and nightmarish creature in this world.      Werner Herzog

In the Regency — in most times and places — chickens were “women’s livestock,” a minor and cozily domestic part of the farm economy, kept by the woman of the house for “egg money,” fed thriftily with scraps and garden bugs and free-range foraging.
I don't know about everywhere, but in the US in the C20 the money a woman made from her chickens was hers to spend as she would.

Wench girl feeding chickens albert anker 1831 1910

Might be grain. Might be table crumbs

“Chickens consumed a lot of garden waste. For example, if you’d finished picking all the peas, then you pulled up the vines and fed them to the chickens. When you had a biscuit that didn’t rise properly or bread with mold, you threw it into the farmyard. Chickens love bugs and are omnivorous, so they eat meat and, sometimes, eat each other. They also love mice.”

  Elaine Shirley, Colonial Williamsburg

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