Birds that are just chicken lickin' good

Updated: 2012-01-28 07:21

By Xu Junqian (China Daily)

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 Birds that are just chicken lickin' good

The chickens reared by Yang Sizhong are said to be unafraid of foxes and eagles. Yang says he doesn't believe in modern technology and uses traditional methods, exercise and good quality food. The birds and their eggs fetch a premium price that many discerning customers are willing to pay. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

Super fowl that command a huge cost prove to be popular among those who can afford to pay a premium price for the birds

YUYAO, Zhejiang - If music be the love of food, lay on. Apologies to William Shakespeare but the revised sentiments of the opening lines of his play Twelfth Night apply to Yang Sizhong's chickens run perched on the bamboo-covered mountain on the outskirt of Yuyao, East China's Zhejiang province.

Yang plays violin compositions by Amadeus Mozart to his flock of 4,000 simingjinfeng fowl in the belief it soothes them and makes for better eggs and meat.

They are certainly a special breed and people are happy to pay a premium for them.

"These birds are the least chicken chickens in the world," said Yang at the two-acre plot he established. "They can scare off eagles and fight off snakes, fly as high as 200 meters and run faster than human beings."

The former marketing manager of a top menswear company charges 1,088 yuan ($170) for each of his heroic feathered friends - more than 10 times the usual price. The eggs, which have pink, blue or green shells, cost 20 yuan each - 20 times the normal rate.

Yang attributes the popularity of his chickens to the growing concern for food safety in China.

Born and bred on a remote island near Shanghai, the 45-year-old recalled how his childhood was threatened by a scarcity of wholesome food and polluted seawater. He witnessed many friends, neighbors and relatives dying.

"I guess I have an inborn concern for the quality of the food we eat every day," said Yang. "I find my concerns increasing with age, like the grey hair on my head."

When Yang became a father two years ago he decided to do something about it.

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