I’ve actually heard quite a bit of clucking from longtime chicken keepers when they hear talk of baby chicks being sold for as much as $3 or $5 a piece. Our four girls – although they’re worth a king’s ransom to me – cost $2 a piece. Between you, me and the lamp post, I would happily spend $100 for a guaranteed Silkie or Mille Fleur D’Uccle hen. Since those are bantam breeds, you have no sex guarantee (who in this world has ever had a guarantee around sex?!) and you don’t know for weeks if you have a rooster. As much as I want one of those chickens, I also know how hard it would be to consign a bird I’ve raised to someone’s stew pot.
Aside from the hobbyist like myself, there are many serious poultry exhibitors who meticulously work to develop a chosen breed to its standard perfection. In fact, the 2009 American Poultry Association Annual Meet is coming right up September 12-13 at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Belvedere, Illinois. Road trip, anyone?
I just added a book to my Amazon.com basket entitled “The Fairest Fowl: Portraits of Championship Chickens”. According to authors Ira Glass and Tamara Staples, “Chickens this amazing don’t just happen”. Quite honestly, the photographs in this book make my girls look like mutts. I will have to read it somewhere other than in the chicken yard.
The first time we paid for a pet was ten years ago when we acquired the Souper himself, the alpha cat of alphas, the grand puddster, Dizzy. Best $200 we ever spent, but the Chicken Emperor, his regard for Dizzy aside, remains convinced that people should pay US to take a cat, not the other way around.
I may finally have an illustration that the CE will find more suspect than outlaying cash for cats. According to my online bible of chicken wisdom, http://www.backyardchickens.com, someone paid as much as $4,501 for a pair of Coronation Sussex chickens this past spring. The breed was originally developed in 1940 to honor of the coronation of England’s King George VI. Pigeon blue markings , the blue center of each feather totally surrounded by a white margin, is apparently the key to perfection with this bird.
I don’t think a Coronation Sussex is in my future, but I have to admit that when I read about Lavender Orpingtons and Black Copper Marans, $200 a bird doesn’t seem out of line. Just don’t tell Dizzy.