"Don’t/Never name the chickens” is a barnyard adage that has also been used in the military. “We decided not to name our chickens...it makes it so hard to eat them later” (said by a farmer to a neighbor) was cited in a 1942 newspaper cartoon..
Sy Montgomery explained in his 1991 book, Walking with the Great Apes: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas:
“There is an old military adage all generals know well: ‘Don’t name the chickens.’ Just as a farmer can’t consider his chickens pets if he is raising them for meat, a commander cannot become too friendly with individual soldiers, for he may well have to send them to death to win a battle.”
It’s not certain when the military adage began, but it possibly started during World War II (the date of the 1942 cartoon).
24 May 1942, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “Grin ad Bear It” cartoon by George Lichty, comics sec., pg. ?:
“WE DECIDED NOT TO NAME THE CHICKENS...IT MAKES IT SO HARD TO EAT THEM LATER.”
Walking with the Great Apes:
Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas
By Sy Montgomery
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.
There is an old military adage all generals know well: “Don’t name the chickens.” Just as a farmer can’t consider his chickens pets if he is raising them for meat, a commander cannot become too friendly with individual soldiers, for he may well have to send them to death to win a battle.
Facing the Wild:
“Ecotourism, Conservation and Animal Encounters”
By Chilla Bulbeck
New York, NY: Earthscan
As the farmer knows and the old military adage goes, ‘Don’t name the chickens’ (Montgomery, 1991, p228), which of course Goodall, Galdikas and Fossey contravened: they named their apes and focused on individuals (Montgomery, 1991, p104).
stephany smith pearson says:
MARCH 31, 2009 AT 2:02 PM
. One thing: never name your chickens. They are poultry, not pets, and they tend to end up as tasty treats for dogs, cats, and critters of all kinds. There’s nothing worse than discovering the mauled remains of your beloved “Fluffy”. The only exception I ever made to that rule was a pair of roosters that my daughter named Original Recipe and Extra Crispy.
Adventures with a Pack of Hens, a Peck of Pigeons, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Living Dinosaur
By Sy Montgomery
New York, NY: Free Press
I had not done so before because of a military adage learned from my father, an army general, which warned, “Never name the chickens.” I knew this wasn’t about poultry, but about the commander’s responsibility to remain objective about the troops he must choose to send into battle.
This woman really, really loves her chicken
Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014 at 1:24 PM EDT
“I had Charlie the chicken. And it was this nice little chicken and it was my chicken. Well, grandpa ate my chicken, and I was very upset. He ate my chicken. He took my chicken, and one day, we were eating chicken,” Glenn said. “And my grandpa said, that’s why we don’t name our chickens. And he said the whole time, don’t name the chickens. Don’t name the chickens. He warned me and he’s like, Glenn, we eat chickens. This is what we do. We grow them so we can eat them. This is what we do. We gather their eggs.”
“So one day we’re eating chickens, and I find out it’s Charlie the chicken. And I look at my grandfather — he’s like that’s why we don’t name our chickens. No pause. And, you know what, I still eat chicken, and I got over it. I got over it.”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, October 25, 2014 • Permalink