Monday, July 9, 2012

No One Beat the Egyptian System of Incubation Until the Last Hundred Years

Lady Rah Rah  - A Buff Orpington                            Credit: Nancy Shobe

Lady Rah Rah had her third day of free-ranging today. Look. She laid a plum while out!

In my spare time, of which I don't have any, I am speed-reading The Chicken Book by Page Smith and Charles Daniel. The photo of the rooster on the cover is a real eye-catcher. But, the typeface and page texture turned me off.  When I first opened the book, I said out loud "yuk."

I'm sure the cheap paper helped keep the costs down for the University of Georgia Press, but the typeface? Seriously? It's so thick, so bold, so uninteresting.

I decided to soldier on with my read, which is not an easy decision when you're remodeling your front yard and are under deadline for two work projects.

I must confess. The Chicken Book is a keeper. The writing is so good that I soon became absorbed into the chicken facts and forgot I was supposed to be reading for five minutes.

Here are a few facts I've already gleaned from the book:

Fact #1 - 3,000 B.C.

The origin of the chickens goes back "tens of thousands of years." Most think that domestication of chickens occurred in 3,000 B.C. in India (Indus Valley) or Burma, or the Malay Peninsula. Darwin thought chickens came from the Red Jungle Fowl, but others believe that they had multiple origins.

3,000 B.C.?! I wondered, what was happening in the world around 3,000 B.C.?

According to my research:

Agriculture was taking hold in Northern Africa.
The Neolithic Period ended.
The city of Troy was founded.
Stonehenge began to be built.
The Helladic period started.
Hieroglyphics were invented in Egypt.
The potters wheel was invented in China.
Mesoamerica had settled villages.
It was the coldest time in California with bristlecone pines.

History was truly happening when chickens became domesticated.

Fact #2 - Asian/European Chicken Distinctions

The major distinctions between Eastern and European chickens are:
The pea comb is Asian, unlike the single comb.
Birds with feathered shanks originate from Asia.
The lobes of European chickens are usually white; Asian lobes are generally red.

But, maybe, you already knew this.

Fact #3 - Egyptians Built Incredible Incubators

Egyptians built incubators out of clay bricks and kept the fires burning at 105 degrees so chickens were hatched in large numbers, "ten or fifteen thousand at a time. . . This process of incubation was one of the most remarkable technological accomplishments of the people who built the pyramids; it is only in the last sixty years (100 updated from the time of copyright) that modern incubators have been built that could incubate more eggs and incubate them better."

The history of chickens? Who would have thought it would be a such a treasure chest?

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