Therapy chickens. Yes, this is surprisingly a thing, and I don’t really know how to feel about it. I mean, I’ve heard of therapy dogs and on occasion cats to help with therapy and stress relief, but chickens? Apparently, chickens offer significant therapeutic benefits to people of all ages, providing a powerful therapeutic tool for those suffering from loneliness, isolation, dementia, depression, and anxiety.
An animal therapy advocate in the UK conducted a study where she brought chickens to visit elderly people in nursing homes. Ione Maria Rojas founded the Furry Tales project, where she took chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs to care homes and centers across the city. She stated the reaction from elderly people to see the chickens arrive, was delightful and were all smiling broadly to participate in the experiment.
Chickens were used for the study since the ideal therapy bird of any species has to be calm, is not easily startled and enjoys interacting with people. Of course, just like dogs, these chickens must be trained to work in the therapeutic setting. All chickens working in a program involving humans should be screened beforehand for parasite and salmonella by a licensed professional on a yearly basis. The chicken must also pass through an appropriate training through the national therapy animal organization.
So how exactly are these chickens considered therapy animals? Chickens are known for being docile and enjoy perching on people’s laps making them the perfect therapy animals. The same way a dog will react to a human that shows them any sort of affection or love, chickens react the same.
The chicken is not only mending a relationship with the origins of food but is actually nurturing an emotional connection with people in need, to help them with their health. For example, if a resident is experiencing Alzheimers’s, they can use the chicken as a calming effect by feeding it, which can improve cognitive boost.
According to experts, all chickens have the intelligence and capacity to become therapy animals and change the lives of those around them. Believe it or not, therapy chickens are used around the world to encourage recovering patients mobility. It’s all about people who face challenges with mental illness and health issues to enjoy the little things in life. So if that means having a pet chicken, by all means, time to go to the farm! I guess Old McDonald was up to something, huh?