Raising micro-livestock in the backyard can be part of a comprehensive strategy for self-sufficient food security, but it can get messy -- especially if your chickens decide to spend more time in your house as pets than outside.
For Julie Baker of Pampered Poultry, the solution was to make diapers -- for chickens. The Claremont, New Hampshire-based farmer began sewing a variety of chicken-sized accessories when her pet chickens decided it was cozier inside than out, but not without leaving some nasty surprises inside the house.
Baker has since created a business out of these fashionable chicken diapers, selling to chicken owners, locavores and poultry show enthusiasts across the country, according to The Huffington Post.
The diapers are fastened over the chicken's tail feathers with the help of buttons -- almost like a reversed apron -- and are machine washable. Made with the help of a women's sewing cooperative in the Dominican Republic, the diapers, saddles and show-worthy chicken apparel come a variety of designs and sizes.
And what's the difference between a chicken diaper and saddle? Apparently, it's a matter of "safe sex" for chickens, as NPR's The Salt quotes Baker as saying:
Saddles are almost more useful than the diaper, quite frankly. 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.
Besides the weightier matter of the environmental impact of chicken-keeping, actually spending money on chicken clothing may sound as silly as dressing up a poodle. But it may be an irrationality that's on par with the slew of designer chicken coops that we've already seen. As Oddity Central puts it, it may just come down to our relationship with our feathered friends:
Ryan Slabaugh, editor of chicken-themed magazine Backayrd Poultry, believes at least half of the tens of thousands of subscribers keep hens around for companionship rather than for agricultural purposes, which sort of justifies their willingness to spend serious money on diapers and clothing.
Anyhow, whether you're an urban farmer or a proud chicken pet owner, if you're feeling like your chickens need serious poop control, then it might be a good idea to check out Pampered Poultry.