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No harm no fowl

“We heard a door slam and then one of them was just screaming,” one student said, recalling the moment one of their chickens revealed their location to a Public Safety officer making routine rounds in Armerding Hall.
For almost two weeks, an abandoned Wheaton College classroom was occupied by 11 chickens, a thick bed of hay and a 50-pound bag of feed. The idea first came to the team over winter break, when one member found that his younger brother had been “farming chickens” in the basement of their house. “When I got back I was like, I need to find myself some chickens,” he said.

The chicken operation in Armerding. Photo courtesy anonymous.

According to a knowledgeable source, who wished to remain nameless, the operation quickly became a “community-building event” for the team. The students made a one hour and fifteen minute drive to an Amish farm in Marseilles, Ill. to respond to a Craigslist ad offering chickens for three dollars each.
The team did not have a long-term plan other than to “make eggs until (they) ran out of feed,” at which point they would likely use the chickens for more pranks. During the two weeks, the chickens produced about 40 eggs, which the students consumed and described as the best they had ever eaten.  Despite getting caught, the members are glad that they can “give the student body a rousing good time” amidst the more controversial issues on campus this year.
The chicken operation in Armerding. Photo courtesy anonymous.

But there was some concern about the health of the chicken involved in a prank in Traber Hall last week. “If they were caring for the animals — making sure that they were warm, fed, watered and clean — and there was no intentional harm to the animals I would have a hard time calling this ‘animal cruelty’” stated Kristen Page, Ruth Kraft Strohschein distinguished chair and professor of biology, who advises the college on animal cruelty issues. An anonymous source described the pen as foul-smelling yet homey, and stressed that the chickens had “access to food and water and fresh bedding,” as well as “plenty space.” The disheveled appearance of the chicken involved in the Traber incident can be explained by the slightly warm environment in which they were kept, according to the source. “They lose feathers when it’s warmer. It was probably 74 degrees in the room … I would’ve liked a solid 50.”
The 11 chickens are now residing at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, and their ex-owners hope to visit them soon.

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