In urban areas like New York, Denver, and Los Angeles, it’s become a trend for the elite to shy away from traditional pets such as dogs and cats, and to raise chickens instead. Although raising chickens used to be predominantly for rural farmers, it’s now not only chic to own these birds , but a status symbol as well. And Julie Baker, an enterprising woman from New Hampshire, is cashing in on the trend by making fashionable chicken diapers. That’s right, chicken diapers. In fact, she’s drawing in $50,000 a year from this business, which isn’t exactly small change.
10 years ago, on her small Claremont farm, Julie was raising a whole flock of chickens with her daughter. They they happened upon a YouTube video of a chicken wearing a diaper so it wouldn’t leave droppings everywhere. Julie recalls thinking something like ‘Oh my goodness, I so need to do that,’ especially since her daughter often brought her favorite chicken Abigail into the home.
Julie then set out on a mission to sew multiple cotton diapers for the Old English hen; other chicken owners soon were contacting her, wanting such chicken diapers for their farms as well. Wanting to create a bonding experience, Julie opened an online store with her daughter in 2010 called “Pampered Poultry”, as something for her to learn from while being homeschooled.
Much to her surprise, her venture exploded in popularity.It began with her fellow poultry-loving friends, but her customer base soon grew into urban chicken owners as well. Currently, Julie sells anywhere from 500 to 1,000 diapers a month in all 50 states, with each retailing at about $18. Eventually, Julie branched out from just selling chicken diapers. She told The Outline that she now also makes feather guards and diaper dresses as well.
You may think it’s crazy for people to go so far as to buying dresses for their chickens, but this is just the tip of it. Apparently, poultry owners have gone so gaga over their pets that they even hire “chicken whisperers” at $225 per hour in order to make sure that they’re happy.
Some chickens even get personal chefs: “We thought we’d feed them leftovers, but our chickens end up eating grilled salmon, steak, fresh lettuce and organic watermelon,” owner Amina Azhar-Graham said.
Another luxury afforded to pet chickens is the smartphone-enabled, motion-detecting coop that suits even the pickiest of all chickens: owners can control the ventilation, temperature, lighting, and security from their phone, to the tune of $20,000.
Pampered Poultry highlights a shift in the way that humans are interacting with chickens. They were once considered to be nothing more than boring livestock, but now many people are starting to treat them like pets, and recognizing that they have unique personalities.