MAD CITY CHICKENS
A documentary by Tashai Lovington & Robert Lughai
DVD review by Frederick J. Dunn (author of Regarding Chickens)
As a chicken enthusiast and collector of books and movies which have anything to do with chickens, I was excited to receive my copy of this wonderful diverse documentary about the chickens return to the American family in suburbia.
Mad City Chickens is a 79 minute documentary, primarily depicting chicken enthusiasts/owners in the State of Wisconsin, though experts are also introduced from around the U.S..
The documentary is a mosaic of people and their urban chicken rearing experiences. A young couple, Dan and Elizabeth, and their two children are fun to watch, as they receive day old chicks and are completely unprepared to properly house and raise them (a common situation with first time chicken owners).
I have to say my favorite individual who shares her trek to unplanned chicken ownership, is Liz Perry, owner of Nutzy Mutz & Crazy Catz in Madison. She finds herself in the middle of a rising tide of chicken owners, as random people drop in on her store asking for “organic chicken feed”? She finally decides to give customers what they are asking for and in the process of picking up her organic feeds for chickens, ends up adopting a feral chicken at the land fill. Under her excellent care, this near dead bird is restored to health, vigor and even lays eggs!
Model cities like Seattle are referenced, as a chicken friendly city, with appropriate regulation of small backyard flocks, allowing chicken ownership. Also introduced is the “chicken underground”, illegal chicken owners in Madison, which were no doubt among those visiting Nutzy Mutz & Crazy Catz asking for organic chicken feed (“> . By the end of the documentary, through articulate and competent citizen action, Madison joins the ranks of chicken friendly cities and the underground sees the “legal” light of day.
There is a wonderful segment on Murray McMurray, conveyed by his granddaughter, regarding how chickens and the now famous hatchery, got the McMurray family and their employees through the depression. I’ve personally purchased chicks from this hatchery for many years with great success.
The cultural rhythm of people leaving country living behind and adapting to urban living, lead to the industrialization of the chicken, with obvious and well illustrated results, none of them good where chickens are concerned.
Cheryl Long, editor of Mother Earth News, demonstrates effortless and well thought out backyard poultry management practices at her home. Long also shares with the viewers regarding the chicken egg and ongoing studies comparing conventional vs free range chicken egg nutritional differences (and they are vast).
Dr. Michael Greger MD, author of Bird Flu, provides an articulate and intelligent explanation regarding the potential of contracting avian influenza from a backyard flock of chickens…” it’s never happened, there has not been one reported case”. He goes on to explain the conditions which contribute to poultry illness and disease, related to un-natural densities and concentrated housing conditions.
The documentary has a series of curious and quirky chicken stories, conveyed from owners around the world. Another example is prosperity which may be had in Africa, when the simple gift of a couple of chickens is extended to a visiting friend of importance. The odd Alps chicken lady, who begins to take on the appearance and mannerisms of her chickens? The joy of chickens in Sri Lanka, a pet to children. Cosmic chickens that understand when their owner is in danger and escort a large rattle snake off the premises!
This entertaining and informative documentary closes with amazingly talented artist S.V. Medoris, seen first in her studio as she explains her obsession with Gallus domesticus and delivers a large installation in a library, a flawless portrait of her beloved chicken Big Tiny.
A giant chicken walks through the city… overview of the key folks featured in the documentary and their current chicken status and walla… you have a wonderful documentary about chickens in the city.
MAD CITY CHICKENS now on DVD, a must see for anyone who’s ever considered chicken ownership in suburbia. Have friends who think conventional poultry rearing is the way to go? Get them a gift copy of this documentary… maybe it will help!
There is also a Special Features Disc:
The Making of Mad City Chickens featurette
Cheryl Long: Coops, Solar Power, Electric Cars
Cherrie’s Backyard Chicken tips
Deleted Scenes and Interviews