Why did the chicken cross the road?

To pick herself up a hot pink reflective jacket so she won’t get struck by a passing car after a long night of slugging back wine coolers and tipping cows with her hen friends, apparently.

Omlet, the U.K.-based purveyor of très chic hen house the Eglu, high-end hamster cages, and other fashionable critter-keeping accoutrements, has pretty much gone and outdone every other company offering whacky accessories for your backyard brood with the release of the High-Vis Chicken Jacket.

The £12.00 jacket is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a rainproof, fluorescent — choose from yellow or pink — bib with a reflective strip and a quilted lining that’s designed to easily fit the contours of your domestic chicken’s shapely frame.

The High-Vis Chicken Jacket is easy to use. Just gently put your chicken's wings through the arm holes and fasten at the front. The Velcro fastening is adjustable, allowing for the perfect fit so that your hen is comfy, and the jacket contains an inner bodywarmer, lined with NASA-appproved [sic] Flectalon, for insulation.
Now here’s the thing: Assuming that most backyard chickens were safely secured/fenced in while their owners slept during the night (and at all other times of day), I was totally unaware that chickens were in the habit of fleeing their coops and prowling the streets after dark. But apparently in England, a nation currently in the throes of high-visibility madness, it is an issue.

Johannes Paul of Omlet explains to The Telegraph:

We had people inquiring about this kind of thing so decided to look into it. Most people who have chickens as pets will have them out and about and we do hear about chickens who do cross the road. If you imagine you are in a built-up area and your chicken gets under the fence, they don’t care if there is a road there. They just go straight across it.
Paul notes that while most chickens roost — chicken speak for hunker down for the night — starting at dusk, this is when they’re “most vulnerable to traffic.” He also explains that because chickens are increasingly being kept in well-lit suburban areas, the birds’ internal clocks are thrown off and, as a result, they’re staying up past their bedtimes to do naughty things like gossip, sneak cigarettes, and cross roads (watch out, chicken sitters). And although the jackets won't save them from a non-motorized menace, foxes, they can offer “a degree of protection against attacks.”

Furthermore, Omlet recommends removing the jackets from the birds at night (sorry, these aren't pajamas) as they may become overheated.

However ridiculous this may all sound, the High-Vis Chicken Jacket is selling like hot cakes and has received an enthusiastic thumbs up from Jane Howorth of the British Hen Welfare Trust who thinks that they’re a great alternative to knitted chicken jumpers: “The might help owners identify a particularly poorly hen. They are one of the more sensible things to make it on the market. There has been demand and it shows that people are treating their chickens as pets.”

Any thoughts backyard chicken keepers? Would you buy your clucky gals fluorescent jackets to help keep them out of harm’s way if and when they wonder off onto a road?

Via [The Telegraph] via [The Atlantic Cities]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

A high-visibility vest for road-crossing hens
Sometimes, for unknown reasons, a chicken is going to cross the road. And Omlet wants to keep them safe while doing so with a line of fluorescent jackets.