Luxury … chickens? Why business are flocking to fancy poultry

As one in every 100 homes in cities such as Los Angeles and New York house live poultry, small companies are feeding into the niche trend

There are luxury automobiles, luxury homes, luxury barges and luxury airplanes. And then there are luxury chickens. Some US small businesses are hoping the fad for fancy poultry will lay them a golden egg.

” Likely our top marketer is the Easter Egger, which gives you the blue or green egg ,” Leslie Citroen said in a Marketplace report.” The other one is the Black Copper Marans, which lays black copper eggs. That’s extremely popular, too .”

Citroen is the owner of Mill Valley Chickens and a luxury chicken entrepreneur. Her company- and its online sister company Judy Chicken- sells everything from signs, pillows and chicken” peace flags” to galvanized water troughs and those little stamps you can put one over an egg. Oh, and of course chickens.

But not just any ordinary chicken. Citroen’s chickens are, according to her website,” sourced from top hatcheries and have been raised in strictly clean enclosures and hygienic conditions “. That entails twice-daily cleaning and enclosures that are bathed in a natural lighting without wire flooring. Her chicks are given organic feed only and are up to date on all vaccinations. A baby chicken can run anywhere between approximately $20 and $50 depending on their type and when they were born.( It’s bad luck, however, if you get a rooster .)” Heritage breeds”, which are rare , non-industrial birds with a traceable genetic line, can go for as much as $350 apiece.

Chicken rearing is growing in popularity- particularly in metropolitan areas around the country. CBS News reports that 93% of the 150 most populated US metro regions allow backyard flocks of chickens and the US Department of Agriculture found that one in every 100 households in the metro areas of Denver, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City keeps some sort of live poultry. But there’s no better place for the luxury chicken entrepreneur than the epicenter of over-the-top American luxury in the 21 st century: San Francisco’s Bay Area.

Scott Vanderlip, a software engineer by day and a chicken enthusiast otherwise, operates a free, self-guided bicycle tour of chicken coops and gardens in the Silicon Valley area for hobbyists and fans. His organization, called Tour De Coop, also sells shirts, sweatshirts and other dres items to cover its costs. Laura Menard, a schoolteacher and chicken breeder, has custom-built chicken coops with antique stained-glass windows and detailing added by a master carpenter.” Technology may pay the bills, but it doesn’t feed your spirit ,” told Menard to CBS News.” Chickens, that’s one way to feed your soul .”

Someone’s soul is being fed well because this stuff is not inexpensive. According to a Washington Post report, entrepreneurial contractors are building $20,000 coops complete with solar panels, automated doorways, internal lighting and video cameras that are built with expensive redwood and reclaimed materials so that the coop fits into the esthetic of the owner’s home. There’s actually a Williams-Sonoma coop as well, called ” the Range Rover of chicken crib “, that is made from” sustainable red pine” and is” chemical free “.

Finding a niche and excelling in it is the key to making money for many business people. And if that niche happens to be in a luxury market where people don’t mind spending $350 for a chicken? All the better.” If you’re living in a $15 m home, you’re not going to buy a chicken coop off of Amazon that comes from China for $200 ,” Citroen said in the Marketplace report. That fact would make any entrepreneur cluck, just a little.

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