This year, we have to find the silver linings wherever we can. One of those glimmering plus-sides is a sudden rise in chicken ownership—at least, I’d call that a silver lining. Chickens are great! (Salmonella outbreaks aside, of course.) And plenty of others seem to think so, too. According to My Pet Chicken, which sells baby chicks and an array of chicken accouterments, its sales rose 525% in April as Americans came to grips with never going anywhere or seeing another human being outside of their household and grocery stores ran out of food.
Well, here we are in December and the pandemic is worse than ever, even as a vaccine dangles on the horizon. Meanwhile, countless families are now deep into the first stages of full-blown chicken ownership, and there are probably a few things they need to keep their flock happy and their sanity intact. I say this as someone who’s had chickens for years—by no means an expert on chickens, but I do know that having chickens becomes a major part of your life. So if you’re now trying to figure out what to get your friend or family member who’s hen-obsessed this holiday season, here are a few Barred Plymouth Rock-solid options.
Chicken Guard Automatic Chicken Door ($265)
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: The best thing you can buy a person with chickens is an automatic chicken coop door. These simple contraptions automatically open and close when you want them too, meaning you don’t have to trudge out to the coop at the crack of dawn and be home at sunset every day to close up the chickens and keep them from getting murdered. Which they will if you don’t close the coop door. There are a number of automatic chicken doors out there, but the one I’d go with is ChickenGuard’s “Extreme” door kit, which has all the bells and whistles and won’t break after the first snowstorm. Is it a sexy gift? No, probably not. But it is one that will change a chicken owner’s life—and save the lives of at least a few chickens.
Lozayi Solar Coop Light ($27)
Chances are, if you just got into chickens and don’t live on a working farm, your coop doesn’t have electricity. That means lugging around a flashlight anytime you need to do something in the coop at night, which in my experience isn’t often but happens enough that having a light in the coop is a real bonus. Luckily, we live in the age of cheap LED lights and solar chargers. While I haven’t tested out all the various solar coop lights out there, this Lozayi solar shed and coop light is a good bet. It’s waterproof, frost-proof, has a remote to keep you from fumbling around in the dark for a switch, and it’s cheap enough that if the chickens mess it up, the chicken owner in your life can replace it without too much pain to their bank account.
Gorilla Grip Doormat ($20)
Here’s something people don’t think about enough before getting chickens: the sheer volume of chicken shit you have to deal with. It’s literally everywhere the chickens are, and it’s almost impossible to avoid when you go anywhere near the chicken run and coop. That means your favorite chicken owner is likely cursing every time they reenter the house after doing whatever with the chickens thanks to the copious amount of chicken crap they’ve tracked in. The Gorilla Grip doormat will make quick work of that under-shoe poo. It’s durable, you can wash it off with the hose, and it comes in a nice array of colors and sizes. It’s a doormat. What more do you want?
Brinsea Egg Incubator ($185)
If your chicken-owning loved one has a rooster, they also have fertilized eggs. And, because chickens get killed constantly, there’s a good chance they’re going to need more chickens sooner rather than later. But why buy more chickens when you can just make your own? Enter the egg incubator. This handy contraption allows chicken owners to keep eggs at exactly the right temperature for creating baby chicks. There are a lot of incubators out there, but this one from Brinsea is a trusted choice and has room for two dozen eggs, which is important since there will always be a few that fail to hatch.
Giant Bag of Mealworms ($53)
Are mealworms gross? Yes. Is it weird to have a giant bag of dead bugs in your house? Yes. But chickens love ‘em, and you can easily buy them in bulk. Just make sure to give the person to who you’re gifting the bag of dead bugs a heads up that the gift is mostly for the chickens or they might think 2020 broke your brain.
Bale of Straw ($40)
If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for your chicken-loving loved one, you can’t go wrong with a nice bale of straw. Chicken owners always need more straw as bedding for the coop and for the nesting boxes. Sure, it’s not the sexiest gift in the world. And it’s probably a giant pain in the ass to wrap. But, hey it is practical!