From dinosaur to dinner plate, Sally Coulthard tells the fascinating – and sometimes shocking – story of the domestic chicken.
Earth is home to 23 billion chickens, at least ten times more than any other bird. For every human on the planet, there are three chickens. Despite being capable of flying only a few metres, this most adaptable animal has somehow managed to conquer the world.
In Fowl Play, Sally Coulthard probes every aspect of the genus Gallus: the evolution and domestication of the chicken; its social life and startling variety, from tiny Bantams to gigantic Buff Orpintons, prolific egg-layers to pampered show birds; the hen and the cockerel's importance in ancient Roman augury, medieval superstition and Christian theology; its starring role as a symbol of rustic life; and the darker reality of modern poultry farming and society's insatiable appetite for chicken breasts, wings and nuggets. Throughout history, chickens have been both worshipped and ridiculed, loved and loathed. From its dinosaurian beginnings to modern fast food, this is the ultimate tale of humankind's strange, and often paradoxical, relationship with nature.
'Full of fascinating social history' Independent.
'Global in scope, with fascinating vignettes from the ancient world to the present day' BBC History Magazine.
'A snappy, stimulating book' Mail on Sunday.
'Many wonderful tales unearthed by Coulthard... A smart little book' BBC Countryfile Magazine.
'One of our favourite books of the year' Yorkshire Post