Livestock to Pets: Understanding the Backyard Chicken Movement
Every afternoon Goldie greets me with excitement and anticipation of her daily treats. She hops around and makes those familiar sounds the neighbors hear coming from my backyard. Goldie is not my dog, or a rabbit, she’s my pet chicken. Almost daily our chickens provide us with gifts of delicious free-range eggs with sunset orange yolks. If you’re a chicken owner, you know the joys and fulfillment of having backyard chickens.
Most people are familiar with the white eggs they buy in the store. Even brown eggs are becoming popular at our local Sam’s Club. But have you seen the almost rainbow-colored eggs of the “Olive” and “Easter” eggers?. The Ameraucana, Araucana, Maran, and Welsummer are a few examples of breeds that lay extraordinary colored eggs.
This type of egg and chicken variety was hardly known to many consumers up until recent years because chickens have been primarily viewed as livestock or for farm owners. With the non-GMO food movement and media exposed inhumane conditions of commercial operations, the public is becoming increasingly concerned with what’s in their food and how it’s made. A typical city-slicker can’t exactly keep a cow in their suburban backyard, but a small coop with a handful of chickens is manageable. Especially with the changing city ordinances around the country becoming more “chicken-friendly” and passing laws permitting them in the city limits.
Popular bloggers have emerged who were early adopters to raising backyard chickens or grew up with them and they’ve started amassing vast followers of enthusiasts wanting to learn more. Some examples are Kathy Mormino aka The Chicken Chick, Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily, and Andy Schneider aka The Chicken Whisperer, in addition to many other wonderful personalities. Backyard Poultry magazine, a Countryside Network publication, is dedicated to helping the small-scale poultry enthusiast raise healthy, happy, productive flocks for eggs, meat or fun –- from the countryside to the urban homestead. And of course, we can’t forget the Mother Earth News, who have been proponents of sustainable living and self-sufficiency since the 1960’s.
Even poultry keeping supplies have been undergoing a transformation from the boring commercial designs of the past to a chicer urban functional style. My Favorite Chicken came about from the inspiration to bring modern, urban inspired supplies that make chicken keeping both convenient and rewarding for the hobby chicken enthusiast. The first product we introduced 4 years ago was the ChickenGuard automatic chicken coop door opener, imported from the United Kingdom. It opens the coop door automatically in the morning to let the chickens out and closes in the evening after they’ve gone to roost to keep them safe from night predators. Since then, we’ve expanded our product offering and continue to add innovative backyard chicken supplies sourced from around the world!
Each year we exhibit at pet shows, such as SuperZoo in Las Vegas, NV, a national trade show for pet retailers, and America’s Family Pet Expo, the world’s largest consumer pet and pet products expo. These shows are dominated by the mainstream pet animals, such as dogs and cats. However, in recent years there has been tremendous growth in the interest of backyard chickens as pets, and we’ve witnessed more poultry-related companies exhibiting. A recent survey by the American Pet Products Association uncovered that there are nearly 11 million backyard chicken owners in the U.S. and that chickens are quickly rising to the rank of #4 in top pet animals. How “eggciting” is that!