Urban farming has taken root in many cities across America, and it’s a genuinely cool movement. People like being closer to their food and they like working with their hands — even if it’s only their yard, and not on a 400 acre farm.
But how far is too far?
One particularly hip trend in urban farming is having chickens in your yard. They’re fairly low maintenance (provided you can build the coop) and you never have to pay for eggs again. But, some people have been getting increasingly attached to their chickens and want to bring them inside. Enter: the chicken diaper.
New Hampshire woman Julie Baker decided that when her hens started spending more time inside, she needed to find a way to deal with the mess. So, she sowed up some old cloth and put a few buttons on either side, and voila! The chicken diaper was born.
Apparently, she wasn’t the only one who wanted her chickens inside without the mess. She began offering the diapers online, and now her business, Pampered Poultry, sells anywhere from 50 to 100 diapers a week.
The movement has spawned other businesses too. My Pet Chicken, which offers all kinds of urban chicken supplies, has taken to selling chicken diapers as well.
At some point, of course, folks like Baker realize that people are no longer looking to chickens as a valuable part of their farming ecosystem and a good supply of eggs — they look at them as friends. That case is especially true when somebody brings a chicken inside to nurse an injury and grows increasingly attached to it.
That’s probably the reason Baker also began offering chicken saddles for the hens. Yep, chicken saddles so that the roosters, who are often aggressive, don’t tear out the hen’s feathers.
“Saddles are almost more useful than the diaper, quite frankly,” Baker told NPR. “A rooster isn’t particularly kind to a hen when they mate. He grabs her by the back and pulls her feathers out. The hen ends up with a completely bare back. It gets raw and bleeds a little bit,” she says.
It’s a natural part of chickens being chickens, but one that can be hard to accept if you’ve become attached to your feathery friend.