Signs Dancing Contract with Boardwalk
OK, we need to be careful here. This is a family newspaper, and the following report invites a minefield of poultry puns about poultry buns.
Yet the fact remains: There is a chicken in Ocala with two rear-ends.
Not Earth-shattering news, mind you, but it is an anomaly that has a Marion County agricultural agent puzzled and seeking answers. How is this possible? How common is it? Should the hen breed?
Southwest Ocala residents Alfredo and Ana Cruz bought the Red Star chicken from a friend recently with a batch of other chickens. They raise the animals for fun, eating and sharing the egg bounty with friends and family.
Weeks after the purchase, Ana said, she noticed the hen had a fuller back area, accentuated by the chicken’s plume of white feathers. The couple brushed the feathers away and found two pubic regions, spaced about two inches apart horizontally. Typically, there is one such region in the center with a single orifice.
The couple dubbed the chicken J-Lo after shapely celebrity Jennifer Lopez.
“You know the singer? She has a lot of butt. Well, this one is bigger,’’ Alfredo said Wednesday, motioning toward the chicken, which was snacking on uncooked rice and casually strolling around her pet-carrying case.
He spoke from the Marion County Agricultural Complex, where the couple met Nola Wilson, the small-animal extension agent. The appointment was set up so Wilson could examine the chicken.
Wilson’s professional assessment: Yes, J-Lo has two pubic regions, one slightly larger than the other. And, no, Wilson has never seen anything like it.
“OK. Interesting,’’ Wilson said, examining J-Lo, who did not seem to mind all the pointing and staring and photographing.
Wilson plans to send the photos to the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida, which might be able to provide more information on the oddity.
“My main curiosity is why. Is it something genetic?’’ Wilson said. She advised J-Lo’s owners to hold off breeding the chicken until she had more information. Otherwise, there could be some confusion among the breeding participants, thus frustrating and angering said parties with sharp claws and beaks.
There may also be a health risk to the chicken if, by chance, she was able to lay two eggs in one sitting, said Scotti Hester, a professor of animal sciences at Purdue University in Indiana. If the chicken was capable of laying twice the eggs, it likely would lose too much calcium, she said.
So far, though, J-Lo has laid only two eggs within days of each other—considered normal output. Alfredo, who estimates the chicken is between 6 and 8 months old, said Thursday he was waiting for J-Lo to lay another egg at any moment.
While Hester was intrigued by Ocala’s special chicken, she said she has seen stranger things, including a foot growing out of a chicken’s backside. Such occurrences are “very, very low,’’ she said, but “it happens throughout the animal kingdom every now and then.’’
Hester said X-rays could determine if the chicken has two ovary ducts, but J-Lo’s owners—while chuckling over their pet’s 15 minutes of fame—are content to just leave her be and enjoy a quiet existence on their property near Ocala’s airport.
“We’re just going to keep her. We don’t want to have any profit or anything like that,’’ Alfredo said. “We’ll hold onto her for a long time.’’