white_chickensNaming your chickens, especially those you’ve had since chicks, seems to go hand in hand with raising any animal. But should you name things that will be used for food production? Whether your hens and roosters are intended for the dinner plate or as long-lived layers, here are some things to keep in mind when naming your chickens.

1. Consider carefully naming your intended anniversary dinner.
The number one problem with naming your food is that it turns the animal from a product into a pet. This is especially true if you have children and are using the animal to teach responsibility. We all know the story of Wilbur and Fern, and Fern hadn’t even had to go out and feed Wilbur yet. How much harder will it be for your kids to understand that Daisy and Henrietta, whom they’ve fed and held and petted and collected eggs from, are now sitting on their dinner plate to be eaten? Names create attachments, and those are difficult to overcome when it’s time to set them on the chopping block.

2. Name them something a little less human.
When my neighbors get in the cows every year, my family commits to purchasing half of the meat from one calf. I have learned to approach these products as they are- products. It’s a method of desensitizing when I drive down the road and look at the cows I’ve mentally named after pieces of beef. Some flock poultry owners have done the same. Consider naming your flock after the meals they’re intended for. It may seem a little cruel at first, but when it’s time to butcher Christmas Dinner, or Six Year Anniversary, you may find yourself better able to separate from the deed than if you’re looking at Marigold.

3. If you aren’t intending to eat them you have a little bit more freedom.
Naming your long-lived layers comes with its own set of difficulties, but these are of a far different nature. The standards among chicken lovers tend to be old lady names such as Matilda, Hilda, and the gold standard, Henrietta. Take their personality into account as you don’t want to name a sweet and submissive chicken Augusta Hildegaard, or a dominating and boisterous hen, Poppy. And on that note, flower names tend to be very popular with all chickens at any time. Keep their color in mind. We currently have six hens, two Buff Orpingtons named Daisy and Marigold, two Barred Rocks named Iris and Violet, and two Rhode Island Reds named Lilly and Petunia.

4. Things you may not want to name your poultry…
As appealing as it is to name your dinner chickens after people you don’t like, consider the danger of saying to someone in public, “Yes, I’m going to hack *insert person’s name here*’s head off and eat him for dinner.” Even if your friend understands, a passerby may contact the authorities to let them know that Hannibal is on the loose. In addition, curb the desire to name your poultry various swear words; it doesn’t tend to reflect well on the owners. Gender specific names before you know the gender are also a problem, as we have learned: We have a hen named Leonidas after the Spartan King, and a Rooster named Zelda after the Nintendo princess.

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