Chickens are the new must-have pets, according to The New Yorker, which describes them as “a perfect convergence of the economic, gastronomic, environmental and emotional matters of the moment”. If Chihuahuas in handbags symbolised credit recklessness and pet as designer accessory, then chickens in back gardens are the recessionary pet, offering (eco) style and sustenance. “Chickens are certainly in vogue at the moment. I think people are beginning to realise that there is something wholesome and good about keeping one,” says Joe O’Gorman, the managing director of Whitakers Hatcheries.
Martha Stewart originally helped give the poultry-keeping industry an image makeover after publishing photos of her pet hens, making them seem like companions rather than livestock. There is now a growing pet chicken industry.
Backyard Poultry magazine has seen its circulation climb to over 100,000 in the past few months. ‘Hencam’ has arrived, a service which broadcasts live coop action to a following of 15,000 avid chicken watchers per month. You can treat your hens to a luxury Eglu, a contemporary chicken coop from Omlet, a UK company specialising in products for chickens. And a sign that chickens really are the new Chihuahuas is the invention of the chicken diaper, which comes in a range of 5 patterns and colours.