Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

The Galline Urban Revolution: Are London’s Chickens Therapeutic Workers for Urban Wellbeing?  Seminar

12 May 2022
Via Teams

Event details

Geography & Environmental Science Seminar

Across London – in parks, allotments, and gardens – a new revolution is slowly gaining speed: an urban chicken revolution. These commonplace birds are perhaps not the first species that jump to mind when we think of “urban animals,” but in the last year alone over 50,000 birds were rehomed from laying farms to retirement homes in gardens and allotments in Britain. Around 5% of these chickens are rehomed in London. On first glance, the rise in urban chicken-keeping might be credited to a desire for daily fresh eggs and, while this is one factor, there is a far more complicated story weaved into this “hen fever.” The growing trend for urban chicken-keeping often starts with chickens being kept as “pets with benefits,” but these benefits extend far beyond the humble egg.

Drawing on ethnographies in community gardens, allotments, and hen rehoming sites, as well as interviews with urban chicken-keepers in London, this talk explores how chickens are shifting from food producers to therapeutic pets, supporting recovery from mental illness, and enhancing urban wellbeing. However, keeping chickens is also risky business, potentially posing biosecurity risks to urban communities, as can be seen in the recent avian influenza outbreaks. This talk explores the novel ways that chickens are being put to work as therapeutic support and urban companions, as well as domestic food producers, asking both ethical and practical questions about the more-than-human consequences of the urban chicken revolution.

Speaker Information

Dr Catherine Oliver - Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Link to join in

Privacy Settings