NEWS AND COMMENT: Peanut, the chicken, is in the news today because she is the extraordinary age of 21 which is more than twice the usual age of a chicken with an average of around 7-10. She holds a Guinness World Record of the oldest chicken currently. She lives in Michigan, USA and her owner is Marsi Parker Darwin, a retired librarian. She says that Peanut’s longevity might be down to the love and care with which she has bestowed on her chicken companion. Plus good genes, right?
They have a great connection and it started off at the beginning of Peanut’s life when she was “an unhatched egg in the nest” according to Marsi Parker Darwin. Marsi thought that the chicken was dead in the egg and she took the egg down to a nearby pond to throw it in to feed the turtles.
As she was about to do so, she heard chirping from inside the egg. She broke the shell open and saw “this soggy mess in my hand”. That’s the beginning of the life of the world’s longest living chicken. Marsi discovered that Peanut doesn’t have the egg tooth on her beak to break the shell.
Marsi says that Peanut loves to be the center of attention and she likes to sit with Marsi. Peanut is quite a small chicken it seems but she has a special appearance with a pale, honey-coloured coat of feathers and “a ring of black flecks around her neck and a haughty spray of black tail feathers” in the words of Will Pavia writing in The Sunday Times September 10, 2023.
Will visited peanut at her home in Chelsea, Michigan. Peanut’s mother didn’t recognise her and therefore she was raised by Marsi who took her into the house and placed under a heat lamp during those early days of her life. Marsi said that she had “to tip her beak into water to show her how to drink, which is something her mother would do. I think she thought I was her mother. I started carrying her around with me all over the place.”
You can see that that created a very close bond between chicken and person and I suspect that Marsi was imprinted on the brain of Peanut as her mother and this may be a factor in her longevity.
After a few years, Marsi placed Peanut in a coop with her other chickens. She became friendly with a rooster named Lance with whom she had a family. Lance died a long time ago as have many of Peanut’s offspring. Peanut has now taken up with another rooster named Benny.
In late 2019, as winter arrived, Peanut decided it was time to come inside Marsi’s home and she pecked on the door with her request. Marsi decided it was a good idea to bring her back inside for the rest of her life. She lives with three parrots in a parrot cage which I presume is open to allow her to come and go as she pleases.
One parrot squawks “Peanut!” when they see her. She’s a celebrity and even the parrots realise it. Marsi lives with her husband Bill. I’m sure that he has played a big role in ensuring that Peanut became a celebrity.