Mother of hens: junior takes care of seven chickens

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By Abby Carella and Mira Harris, Staff Reporters

On her 16th birthday, junior Izzy Thornberg opened up a Clay’s Bakery cake box to find seven baby chicks. To some, the lack of dessert might be a disappointment, but Thornberg couldn’t disagree more. 

“It was like the best birthday gift ever,” Thornberg said.

 Thornberg is one of a handful of Conestoga students who can say they are the proud owner and single caretaker of seven chickens, but Thornberg is different. They’re not just her pets, they’re part of the family. 

Even before she had her own chickens, Thornberg was obsessed. When she was younger, her family often went to visit her grandparents’ farm. They had all kinds of animals, but the chickens in particular fascinated her.

 “I first got into (chickens) when I was like 11 because that was the first time I went to my grandparents’ farm in Missouri. Their neighbors also had chickens, and I was just like, oh my gosh, these are adorable,” Thornberg said.

Thornberg spent the next five years learning everything she could about chickens. She decided that if her parents wouldn’t let her get chickens right away, the next best thing would be to learn about them. An entire bookshelf in her room is dedicated to chicken-related books, and her brain is an encyclopedia of chicken facts. From knowing the normal body temperature of a chicken (115 degrees Fahrenheit) to the average age chickens start to lay eggs (six months) to even the correct percentage of protein a chicken needs in its daily diet (20 percent), Thornberg is the chicken queen.  

 Armed with her knowledge about chickens, Thornberg presented her case to her parents. 

“I made a PowerPoint on why we should have chickens. My mom was like, ‘no,’ but clearly I broke her down,” Thornberg said. “I claimed that we would save thousands of dollars if we had our own chickens to lay eggs, and so now, any time we get the eggs, my parents are like, ‘Oh, thank God we’ve saved thousands,’ and it’s become a family joke.”

Walking into Thornberg’s kitchen, your eyes are immediately drawn to a giant metal chicken holder filled with freshly-laid eggs. Outside the kitchen window, there is a full view of the backyard, which is often bustling with all seven chickens (and the dog to watch out for hawks) running around a DIY coop built by Thornberg and her father. You’ll see Cheryl, the chicken who is a true “character” as Thornberg says, enjoying a dust bath outside of her pen while Chickie Minaj, Princess Laya, Goose, Badonkadonk, Clementine and Beaker wander about. These chickens also have a fanbase of 95 other chicken-lovers on their Instagram account, @breakfastpoopers, which Thornberg runs in her free time. 

About the classic question, ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg?’, Thornberg said, “This is really cool. So, it was actually the chicken, because way back when dinosaurs were around, chickens derived from live-birth animals, and then they developed from live-birth into egg-laying, and then they started to evolve into bird-like creatures, and then chickens.”