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The Chabad custom and possibly others is to use a chicken neck as the zero'ah.

Why specifically do we use a chicken to substitute for the Korban Pesach and not any other animal or fowl?

  • It is far away from being mistaken for a real Korban Pesach. – Yishai Apr 17 at 13:09
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    It was cheap and available in Eastern Europe (Id guess the significance of that is yearning for the days of old in Eastern Europe when chicken necks were all we could afford. השיבנו ונשוב!) – Double AA Apr 17 at 13:40
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Chabad.org has an article titled "The Shank Bone (Zeroah)" that addresses this custom: (also referenced in the comments by @Yishai)

Since the zeroa symbolizes the Paschal sacrifice, which was roasted, the custom is that the zeroa is roasted as well. However, since it is absolutely forbidden to sacrifice outside of the Temple Mount, and we do not want it to appear as if we are (heaven forbid) eating an actual Paschal sacrifice, we do not eat the zeroa. This is also the reason some prefer to use limb of a bird (which does not at all resemble the Passover offering, which was a lamb or a kid), and then strip much of the flesh from the bone (see: Rebbe’s Haggadah). If you follow this custom, take care that some of the flesh should remain or it is not considered a zeroa (see: Shulchan Aruch Harav 673:22, quoting the Ran).

Following this line of reasoning, this would seem to rule out using other animals for the zeroa since it could be mistaken for the Paschal sacrifice.

In terms of why a chicken, I think @DoubleAA's comment is correct: there's no kosher bird for consumption that was and is more prevalent/ accessible than a chicken.

  • (side point: any Kosher meat restaurant is almost guaranteed to have a chicken option on the menu, but would not necessarily have: duck, quail, turkey, goose, pheasant etc or any of the other kosher birds)

Thus, while one could potentially suggest to use one of the aforementioned birds as their zeroa (obviously not before CYLOR) it's understandable how the widespread practice of using a chicken bone for zeroa was adopted.

  • Is there any source for the notion that some prefer to use the limb of a bird? – wfb Apr 17 at 16:41
  • To be clear I was commenting on why chicken instead of lamb, not chicken instead of duck. – Double AA Apr 17 at 16:43
  • This is not accurate. Pigeons are way more common than chickens, at least where I live. – Double AA Apr 17 at 16:45
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    @alicht probably the same number of people eat the zeroa as eat pigeons – Double AA Apr 17 at 16:47
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    @DoubleAA added in "for consumption" – alicht Apr 17 at 16:48

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