The seller helps the customer in front of us, who says encouragingly, ‘He sells the tastiest chickens around’. I reply, ‘Oh, but we come for live chickens’. Nuno and I don’t realize it at that instant, but in retrospect, it was a bizarre buying-chickens-adventure.
buying chickens via olx
Nuno has been working towards this moment for the past few months. It was his side project to build a chicken coop. We had chickens in the Netherlands, so we know a little about what is involved. For example, the coop must be closed properly at night, so that predators can’t get in. In the Netherlands, a fox once forced its way in and we don’t want to see such a massacre again. That’s why Nuno built a stone coop. It is more hygienic than a wooden coop too, where blood lice easily hide in the cracks.
One day, the coop was finished. The new inhabitants could come!
In Portugal, you can buy live chickens, ducks, turkeys, guinea fowls, rabbits and other small farm animals at the market. However, the markets are now prohibited, so we looked at the Portuguese selling site, olx.pt.
The closest seller with nice and abundant chickens on offer was on the outskirts of greater Porto, in Paredes.
The seller sent us by e-mail the name of the street where we had to be. Along the main road, there is even a large sign with nice pictures of various fowls. That looks promising! We drive into the car park of what looks like a small garden centre.
Inside we see people. It looks like the seller with a customer. At first, we don’t believe our eyes, is he really…? Yes, he takes two baldly plucked cockerels and throws them on a counter. The customer opens the door for us and while the seller is pulling the organs out of the bodies, he greets us kindly. ‘Good afternoon, come in. Close the door!’
At the chicken farm
Inside, the scene is even more bizar. Let me sum it up: a large steaming pan of water with chicken feathers on an electric burner, a fat Siamese cat sleeping on bags of chicken feed, chicken organs on the floor, meowing black cats eating kibble, a pile of green grass, a pretty clean-looking poulterer’s table and, in the background, a collection of chicken runs and a large free range area with hundreds of chickens, ducks, fowls and turkeys of various ages and species. The salesman, wearing a mouth cap, boots and a filthy jogging suit, has finished with the customer. He quickly cleans his hands, cleans up the chicken feathers, ‘that’s bad for the cats’, and then gives his full attention to us. In the meantime, six more people have come in.
He makes them wait and goes ahead of us to show the live hens and roosters for sale.
It is remarkable how clean and calm it is in the run. We can see a system: the pedigree chickens are together in one pen. The purebreds that are not sold are let loose in the large free range area. There are big buckets with straw, in which the eggs are laid. In another room, I see the warm light of an incubator.
After some shilly-shally, Nuno chooses two hens and I choose a cockerel. We immediately forget the name of the breed. The hens are a typical Portuguese grey and a brown chicken. The cockerel is white.
When we drive away with our purchase in a big box, we realize what a bizarre experience this was again.
Portuguese chicken words