Rare chickens strut at UM farm museum

MAINE - Just across the street from the Maine Center for the Arts, a few doors down from dormitories undergoing summer renovations, and within crowing distance of the University of Maine football field, three rare Chinese chickens are blissfully unaware they are summering on a college campus.

Scratching around for earwigs and other insects and fighting over someone's breakfast toast in a portable coop, the small, ornamental Nankin chickens are part of the summer exhibits at UM's Page Farm and Home Museum.

Once thought extinct, the chickens were raised and lent to the museum by Robert Hawes of Hampden, a UM professor emeritus and authority on backyard poultry raising.

Hawes is one of only a handful of U.S. poultry breeders who raise Nankins.

At first blush, it may appear that roosters crowing and hens laying eggs may not mesh with the university's mission. But behind the wooden-slat silo and inside the three-story barn museum, the rich history of Maine's poultry industry and the school's part in it are proudly displayed.

Maine was once a major force in the egg-laying industry, and the university began researching poultry as the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station in 1880.

Source: bangornews
calendar icon 29 July 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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