CWhen we think about therapy animals, dogs immediately came to mind.

Most countries have therapy dogs to assist people emotionally and mentally. Here in the Philippines, the most prominent one is the Dr. Dog program by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), which does not only helps heal people, but also educates and changes the perception of children towards animals.

Aside from dogs, many countries are now using cats, smallies (small animals), reptiles, and even horses, according to Wide Open Pets.

However, a new animal rises to popularity as a new therapy animal in town: Chickens!

Pecking their way into your hearts

Despite the common misconception that they are best served as food on the table, chickens prove to be intelligent and very social animals.

Nursing homes in the United States have introduced them as the new therapy animals.

According to a report by Care2.com, Santa Barbara-based nursing home, Mountain House, has recently implemented a new program that uses chickens to comfort the elderly patients that have been diagnosed with mental illness.

Dare 2 Dream Farm, where the chickens came from, is a family-owned farm in California that focuses on humane practices. Their chickens now live with the elderlies, who take care of them using a stipend.

Each patient cares for the chickens every day and spends more than an hour taking care of the chickens, according to the Care2.com report.

“I think it has made me more of a kind person,” Mountain House patient Dion Cherot told KTRK. “I mean, they’re so sweet. It’s hard not to treat them well.”

Chickens at nursing homes can reduce “resident-to-resident altercations, reduce antipsychotic drug use and increase the number of visits residents receive from friends and family,” according to a report by Sheboygan Press.

“They can make good therapy pets for people who live with a backyard, because they cost much less than dogs. Care-taking is good for you, when it’s not overwhelming and a chicken can provide an un-anxious example of how to live without worry,” according to a report by Psychology Today.  

A study by the University of Northumbria researchers also suggest that “poultry therapy” in nursing homes could also reduce feelings of loneliness in patients and said male patients to be more social thanks to the therapy.