Crime is no respecter of persons or, it seems, chickens, as 60 chicks were stolen from their cages at one of Oklahoma State’s poultry barns.
The chicks were being raised for research purposes at a small barn off McElroy Street. A class in the Ferguson College of Agriculture was raising them as broiler chickens, which are chickens raised specifically for meat production. The chicks were snatched sometime after 10 p.m. Jan. 21 and were discovered missing the next morning.
Dylan Johnston, a junior agricultural education major and a student in the class, was the first person to discover the chicks were missing.
“I came in about 10:15 a.m., and I noticed there were way less chicks in the scratch pen,” Johnston said. “I called my professor and told her what was going on, and she couldn’t believe it.”
The “scratch” pen is part of the experiment the class is doing. The “scratch” pen houses a group of chicks that are given grain with less protein. The purpose of the experiment is to see if protein levels affect the growth of the chickens from a market standpoint. The experiment will give insight into the nutritional aspect of growth for broilers.
While the “scratch” chickens are given grain with less protein, they are still given the same amount of total grain as the non-scratch chicks. They are provided with all the same amenities and are not treated differently in any way.
One possible explanation for the robbery is that the thief did not agree with the treatment of the chicks in the experiment and therefore wanted to take them away.
News of the robbery left other students in the class surprised and confused. Tarren Sherman, a junior agricultural education major in the class, said she didn’t understand why someone would steal the chicks.
“It was honestly shocking to find out someone had taken so many chicks for no apparent reason,” Sherman said. “I want the person who took (the chicks) to know that you are not helping them. They were being taken care of under the proper circumstances and were being monitored every day by more than one person tasked with taking care of them.”
Maggie Martens, an agricultural communications major, furthered Sherman’s statement and spoke about the chick’s welfare outside of the ag department’s care.
“It’s all so crazy and stupid,” Martens said. “The chicks were only a few days old and likely won’t survive very long outside of the barn in the freezing temperatures we have. Here (at the barn) they had food, water and proper heating. Who knows if they will get any of that now? If anything, they are in a worse situation and seriously at risk.”
The instructors of the course declined to comment on the issue, but they did say they informed the OSU Police Department of the theft and filed an official police report. The case remains unsolved, and the chicks have not been located. If any person knows of any details relating to the theft contact the OSU Police or the OSU Agricultural Education Department.