This is not a trivial matter and chickens are not to be trifled with. To paraphase Anton Chekov, if you put a chicken in chapter one, you'd better be serving your hungry reader up a platter of fried chicken, or at least a few scrambled eggs, by chapter three or four.
A few examples from the poultry genre: Still Life With Chickens by Catherine Goldhammer, When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson (Disclaimer: this book discusses chicken nuggets, not live chickens.), and The Chicken Shack by Henry W. Jenkins. Most notably, the extraordinary writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker's The Chicken Chronicles is out just this month, and a new hardover edition of P. G. Wodehouse's Love Among the Chickens is forthcoming.
Why, I wondered, all the Chicken Lit? I include myself among those writers who have flocked to chickens - the rotund birds make an appearance in my own forthcoming memoir.
Still, I knew I was onto something when a search revealed that even academia has a fascination with literary chickens. Yale University devoted an entire conference to the topic: "The Chicken. It's biological, social, cultural and industrial history from neolithic middens to McNuggets."
What is it about the chicken that attracts the writer's eye? And keyboard? Ms. Walker says this on her blog: "I sat with them expecting nothing and over the months they pecked open places I hadn’t been able to enter by myself."