December 13, 2010
Black Cochin chicken

Courtesy Audrey Pavia

Maddie the Cochin hen will soon be spending all her time indoors.

When you keep livestock in the city, word gets around the office. I’m known throughout my department as someone who keeps chickens, and I’m occasionally posed with a question or two about chickens and their daily lives.

But the other day, I had a chance to do more than educate a coworker about charming rooster behavior or the tastiness of home-grown eggs. I had a chance to help a city dweller keep his pet hen.

It started when Kathy, a colleague of mine, came into my cubicle with a man I’d never seen before. He was new to the company and made Kathy’s acquaintance in the break area. Somehow, the subject of chickens came up and the newbie—lets call him Jim—mentioned that he had a pet chicken. Naturally, Kathy had to bring him over to introduce us. After all, chicken people must know each other.

After shaking my hand, Jim began to tell me all about his pet hen—lets call her Maddie—a black bantam Cochin. He lived in a town near the beach not exactly known for its livestock-friendly lifestyle and was worried that Maddie’s days with him might be numbered. He explained that Maddie lived in the backyard, but he didn’t know if chickens were legal in the city. In fact, he was pretty sure they weren’t. He was afraid someone might report him and he’d have to find a home for Maddie. He asked me if I was interested.

Because my flock consists of a few bantam Cochin mixes, I eagerly said “Yes.” I worried Maddie would have to deal with my bitchy leghorn hens, who would quickly drive her to the bottom of the pecking order, but I figured they would eventually accept her. Goodness knows the roosters would be happy to have her.

As Jim and I continued to chat, I began to realize that he was quite attached to little Maddie. He’d never had a chicken before and seemed to really love having her as a pet. It became obvious that it would be a sad day when Jim had to give up Maddie, and I no longer felt so enthusiast about adopting her.

“Have you thought about keeping her in the house so no one would know that you have her?” I asked him.

The stunned look on his face gave me my answer. “You can do that?” he said.

“Yes,” I answered him, following with an explanation of “chicken diapers.”

I’ve never used chicken diapers myself, but I’ve seen plenty of pictures online of chickens wearing them. Apparently, you can keep a chicken in the house without having chicken poop all over the place if you fit your chicken with a diaper.

That night, Jim sent me a picture of Maddie, thanking me for agreeing to adopt her if she needed a home. 

The next day, when Jim showed up at my cubicle, I thought it was to ask me if I was ready to take Maddie. Instead, he asked me how he could find chicken diapers. I referred him to ChickenDiapers.com and was thrilled at how excited he seemed at the thought of being able to bring his pet hen in the house. Thanks to chicken diapers, I think Christmas came early at Jim’s house this year.

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