Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Has My Pet Chicken gone mad?

The most recent newsletter from My Pet Chicken mentioned something about a neighbor of Oprah's getting eggs from her.  Strangely, I can't relocate the article on the MPC website, nor is there anything on the interwebz about it.

So Oprah has chickens.  That's nice.  Lots of people have chickens named Oprah.  That's nice, too, and ranks just as highly in my top 100 (that is, not at all) daily news bits.

What caught my attention, more than the Oprah mention, was the newest slate of MPC offerings.  Has the Oprah association gone to their heads??

Let me tell you how much I love MPC.  I ordered some chicks from them two years ago.  With just one exception the chicks arrived healthy, the customer service was top-notch, and the adult hens are healthy and beautiful.  All in all, I've had great experiences with them.  Even their goof of accidentally sending a box of 14 chicks to my office in Seattle was handled well on their side.  I did have to ride the bus home - an hour-long trip - with a box of peeping chicks on my lap that day, though.

OK, so back to Oprah and My Pet Chicken.  Are they crazy??  Their new product line has two things that seem completely beyond the reach of your normal, middle-income chicken owner.  Sure, a bajillionaire like Oprah can drop money on a hobby like it's nothing but what about the rest of us?  Will there actually be a market for these items?

First, they're offering an automatic chicken coop door.  Anyone who has trudged twice daily to a coop to open it in the morning and lock it at night knows how tedious this chore is.  And anyone who has lost birds to predation knows how critical it is.  I get all that.  But seriously... this product costs $215, or $350 if you want the solar-powered one.
As much as I get sick and tired of this twice-daily chicken chore, I'll keep my $350 thankyouveddymuch.

Their second new product is a solar-powered self-propelled chicken tractor.  For the uninitiated, a "chicken tractor" is essentially a portable chicken coop, which allows you to change the chickens' location on your property regularly while keeping them confined.

Just how much does it cost?  $2,000.  Seriously, two GRAND for a chicken coop that holds just 6 birds.  So much for chickens being an inexpensive hobby.  I couldn't find shipping costs but I imagine those are extra.  Your chickens are going to need to lay a ton of eggs to repay you for this extravagance.

Finally, there's this stuff.

$20 for "chicken caviar".  Maybe I'm going through a stingy, cheap-ass stage in my life (probably the case) but chickens don't need this stuff.  They might "go berserk" for the chicken caviar, but they'll also go berserk for moldy cheese, a beetle, or a snail.  If you want to spend $20 + S&H, go for it.  But not me. 

The way to a chicken's heart is through its stomach.  If you want a "friendlier flock" go to the pet store and buy a few dozen crickets.  Or chop up some cheese to dole out.  Give them lunchmeat, cheap cat food (it has more grains in it and is pretty good for them), cut up cooked beef kidney or crushed hard-boiled eggs, shells & all.  They'll go crazy for anything that's high fat and high protein.  They also love breads in any form, leftover pizza, cold onion rings, cereal, chips, berries, melons, and grapes.  Don't bother buying treats for chickens unless you have an extra $25 hanging around that you just have to spend.

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