We kid you not.
Last year, Americans spent $53 billion on their pets, according to American Pet Products Association. While dogs and cats are the primary recipients of that spending, pets du jour like teacup pigs and pygmy hedgehogs have had their time in the spotlight as well.
But unlike the trendy pets whose popularity fluctuates like hemlines, chickens have proven to have staying power. Beyond just being a unique pet, chickens are, as the The New York Times put it, “a symbol of urban nirvana, their coops backyard shrines to a locavore movement that has city dwellers moving ever closer to their food.” Not only do chickens fill the role of pet, but they make eggs!
Many of us figured that the chicken craze jumped the proverbial shark when Williams-Sonoma launched the “agrarian” line, their selection of romanticized farming gear and quaint coops that promise to turn anyone’s scrappy backyard into a Martha Stewart photo spread. But the chickens keep coming, as do their accessories.
Here’s just a brief sampling of some of the things chicken aficionados can buy for their birds.
1. Chicken diapers
Not that people infantilize their pets or anything, but, well ... just in case you need to diaper your chicken, you can do so with a stylish selection of diapers from Pampered Poultry. The company promises that the diapers, $12.50 each, “fit comfortably and allow you to enjoy your birds in the house or car without worry!”
2. Leash-ready chicken diaper
We’re not sure if being walked on a leash is considered “free-range,” but for the chicken owner who wishes to parade her fowl about town, there’s the “leash-ready chicken diaper” from mypetchicken.com that has a built-in D ring on the back for easy leash attachment. And with that handy built-in diaper, you won’t have to “curb your chicken” or bring along a waste bag when walking your bird on city sidewalks.
3. Chicken saddle
Pity those poor hens that need armor on their backs to protect against amorous roosters. Apparently, rough roosters aren’t the gentlest of suitors, and can leave a hen’s back mighty mangled; but not when you swaddle her in a saddle! Pampered Poultry offers several pretty patterns ... maybe they should design spiked ones to keep those brutish boys away.
4. Chicken attire
What every chicken needs: a ruffled dress with bow.
5. Cedar chicken coop with planter
From the aforementioned Williams-Sonoma “agrarian" line comes the very precious Cedar Chicken Coop, which will provide you with the warm and fuzzy, sun-dappled, rustic chic that only money can buy. Now it does seem that given the $1,499.95 plus shipping and installation that this coop costs, one could hire a carpenter to custom build one with plenty of money to spare. But for those who prefer the pre-packaged, high-end homesteading route, they can at least take solace in knowing that the coops are, according to the catalog, “Hand-built from sustainably harvested western red cedar, custom milled by a local, family owned sawmill and delivered to the workshop via ferry.” It says that, delivered to the workshop via ferry. (Is this a "Saturday Night Live" skit?)
6. Chicken coop predator kit
Although it doesn’t claim to be delivered via ferry, the “predator kit” from Williams-Sonoma should at least be delivered via strippergram given the price attached to it. We’re talking two-feet by 25-feet of wire mesh, plus a bit of hardware, for a whopping $79.95. The same length of material from Home Depot is $34, minus the tasteful packaging.
7. Chicken Crack
If commercial feed is the gateway drug, Chicken Crack must be the ultimate indulgence for the chicken set. Although factory farmed chickens may be dosed up with caffeine, Benadryl and antibiotics, the pampered birds of the organic crowd prefer an all-natural high. “For spoiled chickens only,” the addictive Chicken Crack snack is a mixture of organic grains, organic seeds, dried mealworms and dried river shrimp that is guaranteed to drive your flock crazy … as long as they don’t steal your VCR and try to sell it on the street.
8. Neiman Marcus Beau Coop
For the chicken who has everything, how about a bespoke Versailles-inspired Le Petit Trianon house? The Beau Coop – otherwise known as the Neiman Marcus $100,000 chicken shack – is a multilevel dwelling featuring a “nesting area, a 'living room' for nighttime roosting, a broody room, a library filled with chicken and gardening books for visitors of the human kind, and, of course, an elegant chandelier.”
Because we all know that hens need chandeliers. (Or is that chanticleers?)
Related chicken stories on MNN:
- Finally answered! Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
- 6 of the best chicken coop tours in the U.S.
- The benefits of raising chickens