My Atkins' Advisors

I'm almost certain my chickens can't read. Nor have I found any evidence that they've figured out how to switch on the radio out there in the coop. Yet somehow they seem to be completely up on Atkins, the high-protein diet craze that's sweeping the country. Instead of going dormant on the laying front, as they usually do when daylight dips below fourteen hours a day, this past winter they went into high production. Rather than no eggs, we began finding as many as seven a day in the nest boxes. It's almost as if the hens were anticipating a big run on those high-protein, Atkins-approved eggs of theirs. And with good reason: Mary and I started the diet shortly after waddling into the new year. We eat more eggs now in a week than we used to in a three month period.

Yes, eggs are good for you again. At least that's what the nutritional gurus are saying at the moment (they may change their minds again in the time it takes you to read this article). In fact after years of villification, eggs are now the darlings of the diet books. “Eggs are a perfectly fine food,” says The South Beach Diet , each one “contains natural vitamin E, an important antioxidant that helps prevent cancer and heart disease.” Of eggs, Dr. Atkins himself gushes, “They are a perfect protein snack!” (Dr. Atkins, in case you hadn't heard, is no longer with us, but I can assure you his demise—despite its similarity to Humpty Dumpty's—had nothing to do with eggs.) One egg contains almost all the basic nutrients of life, including around 15% of the USDA's recommended daily allowance of protein. Not only that, it's “the highest quality protein” that you can find in food, “second only to mother's milk.” Clearly eggs are back, and I'm guessing it's just a matter of time before they start stamping that Atkins “A” on every one of them.

But how did our backyard flock get wind of this new trend? I mean, Mary and I have never said a word about the diet in their presence. And I know for a fact they're not getting it from Oprah because they're usually getting ready for bed when she comes on.

But somehow they know.

Okay, this might seem really far fetched, but suppose it turns out that, in addition to their laying abilities, chickens are endowed with an inate sense of supply and demand, that they're “natural born marketers” that can intuitively sense the direction the market is moving in by the relative excitement or disappointment of the humans they interact with every day (i.e. they can infer from our behavior and our facial expressions when we need more eggs).  Perhaps—and admittedly this is even more fantastic—their little chicken brains are all connected to a sort of invisible telepathic network, kind of like low frequency radio, which in fact connects all the world's poultry and over which the latest information on worldwide supply and demand flows constantly to and fro. And that these days the message pulsing loudly across that network is: “This Atkins thing is BIG, girls! Let's get to work!

Okay, so chicken conspiracy theories are even more ridiculous than human conspiracy theories.

Anyway, regardless of where my chickens are getting their information, I predict this whole Atkins thing will be a huge boon to the home flock movement and that as a result backyard flocks will soon be popping up all across the country. Just imagine. People at Starbucks will be overheard discussing the relative merits of Rhode Island Reds versus Barred Plymouth Rocks (“Well, sure, I love the egg production of the Reds, but rooster management is a real problem.”). Home Depot and Lowes will start offering specials on “Insta-Coops” and “Backyard Brooders.” New York City parks will have to start adding chicken runs to their dog runs (seperated by fences, of course, as dogs and chickens don't mix). Oh man, and if they start insisting you “curb your chicken” people down there are going to have to start carrying much biggers bags.

Yes, Atkins is changing everything. And it's clear from my flock's stepped up production schedule that they've been on the leading edge of this trend for quite some time. Then again, it might have something to do with me replacing their 15-watt bulb with a 25-watt bulb.

Never mind.

Paul Spencer
The Wannabe Farmer

You can contact Paul at

A Chicken Murder Mystery
Bye Bye Birdie
Too Much of a Good Thing
Mr. Fraidy
My Three-Leaved Nemisis
Psycho Rooster
A Pile of Feathers
Plan Bee
Agway Chic
Purple Prose
My Atkins Advisors
This Old Barn
My Old Truck

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