by Stefania Revelli
More American families are chickening out. The comment isn’t meant to ruffle any feathers: More consumers are actually keeping chickens as personal pets and not necessarily seeing them as simple egg providers (Today Show, 11 April 2011).
For those clueless about clucking, resources abound: Backyard Poultry magazine actually exists. Omlet.com has covered chicken care from breeds and coop selection to how to say “cock-a-doodle-doo” in 19 languages. The “Dummies” book series now includes both Raising Chickens for Dummies and Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. Andy Schneider is a bona fide “Chicken Whisperer.” Chicken diapers help folks who want to keep their chickens indoors ($28 on MyPetChicken.com), and coop design contests have been popping up in various communities.
The chicken trend isn’t just stateside: Chickens are the fastest-growing pet market in the UK, and redeemable chicken vouchers even made it into British Christmas stockings last year (Independent.co.uk, 27 December 2010).
Why are consumers adding fine feathered members to their family? Saving money by producing one’s own fresh, free-range food is one reason. But for pet owners thinking outside the litter box, it’s often about keeping an animal that has some personality — one that’s sociable, easy to care for and kid-friendly. Check, check and check for chickens.