Coccidiosis is not the easiest of words to pronounce. For example, after taking a run-up at it earlier today, Mrs Grumbler managed ‘Cock Cilla Doses’, which sounds like a dreadful venereal disease caught some fifty years ago in Liverpool’s Cavern nightclub. It is, in fact, a parasitic infestation of birds and animals and not a word most folk are going to need unless, like us, they are small scale chicken farmers.
Now, when I say “small scale chicken farmers” I mean that we have a relatively low number of chickens, rather than that we farm chickens whose size is a fraction of the generally accepted norm. Not for the want of trying, however….
Some weeks ago, while watching the BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ and reading a Victorian horror novel, I was struck by a particularly intriguing bolt of inspiration. There was an article on how people with small back gardens can keep chickens but what, my inner voice asked me, if I were to produce a chicken one tenth of the size of a regular one, specifically so that people with window boxes can have their own (admittedly tiny) fresh eggs for breakfast? Several mad-scientist possibilities occurred to me and I resolved to begin my experiments in pico-poultry-production first thing on the morrow!
We can cut a long story short and gloss over the many attempts which earned me little more than a startled “Awk!?” and a baleful glare from my test subject (as well as a turkey baster I can never bear to use again, but thats a story for another day) but, eventually, by good old fashioned selective breeding I’d managed to produce remarkably compact birds. With one small problem: every successful mini hatchling was, without exception, male. All of the hens were regular sized. And so it was that in the end I had to concede defeat because, and I know that you can see this coming a mile off, nobody wants a tiny cock…