Fowl play


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 this book, Sally Coulthard probes every aspect of the genus Gallus: the evolution and domestication of the chicken; its social behaviour and array of physically striking varieties, from Rhode Island Reds to Belgian d’Uccles and from Buff Orpingtons to White Leghorns; its importance in ancient Egyptian religion, Roman augury and Christian theology; its role as egg-providing companion on farms and smallholdings and in suburban back gardens; and the darker reality of modern poultry farming and society’s insatiable appetite for chicken breasts, wings and nuggets.

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The humble chicken has conquered the world.This unlikely descendant of Tyrannosaurus Rex is now so ubiquitous there are more than 20 billion chickens pecking, strutting and scratching around the planet at any one time. And yet, of all animals, the chicken perhaps best represents the contradictory way we humans treat other species: both beloved pet and cheap commodity, symbol of a sustainable good life and brutalised object of factory farming.Sally Coulthard charts the chicken’s fascinating journey from dinosaur to domestication, exploring every aspect of the history of Gallus gallus domesticus. As informative as it is entertaining, Fowl Play tells a remarkable tale of evolutionary change, epic global travel and ruthless exploitation – as well as of companionship, ingenuity and the folly of human nature.

Additional information

Weight 0.23 kg
Dimensions 19.8 × 12.9 × 2 cm










636.5 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K