Monday 26 January 2009

It's moa than a feeling, it really does make your eyes water

Once upon a time there were four chickens called Auntie Madge, Auntie Edie, Auntie Doreen and Little Lil. They all lived together at the Raikes Centre pupil referral unit in Gloucester. Well I say lived together – they still do. So, I guess that you could now all be asking yourselves the same question. What is the point of my opening today’s blog as if writing a childrens' fairy tale?

The answer is that I simply could not think of a suitably alternative opening line.

Anyway, as I intimated above, there really are three chickens living at the aforementioned referral unit, and are known by the names of Aunties Madge, Edie and Doreen. There is also a Columbian blacktailed cross hen called Little Lil, presumably so named as she is the smallest of her flock and Lil is, after all, a pretty good name for a chicken. What makes Little Lil so special, though, is the fact that she regularly lays eggs measuring 10cm across - more than twice the size of a normal egg. The pupils have not been able to weigh her produce as these exceed 8oz, which is all their scales can handle.

Little Lil is just six months old and has only been laying since October, but once a month she forces out an egg measuring an eye-watering 10cm by 8cm.

The story appeared in a recent edition of the Daily Telegraph and teacher Kate Farminer, 54 is quoted as saying : "We've got four pet chickens here and Little Lil is by far the smallest and also the quietest. So we were amazed when she started producing these enormous eggs – you wonder how she gets them out. The first time it happened the egg broke but the latest one was intact.

We've got another two spare so this time our curiosity got the better of us and we took a look inside. We couldn't believe it when we found another egg inside - maybe she's a Russian chicken."

The article went on to say : ‘When pupils cracked open the latest oversized egg they found a yolk, an eggwhite and another small but complete egg on the inside, like a Russian doll. Little Lil lives with three other pet chickens Auntie Madge, Auntie Edie,and Auntie Doreen. Her eggs normally measure 4cm by 7cm.The centre's three classes of children aged between four and eleven also keep pet rabbits and chickens.According to Guinness World Records, the largest ever egg was laid by a Black Minorca hen in England in 1896 and weighed nearly 12oz.’

So if that doesn’t make your eyes water .......

Now, still on the subject of things being produced from birds' rear ends, there has been a rather interesting investigation into giant bird poo in New Zealand. I mean poo from giant birds rather than a very large deposit of poo by the way - mind you, at 15 cms in length perhaps it could be the other way round after all.

However, seriously, there is a very interesting article to be found on the Wildlife Extra website:

Take a peek for yourself and see how faeces primarily taken from species of the extinct giant moa have provided a treasure trove of information about pre-human New Zealand.

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