Chicken owners often take to urban farming blogs with this lament: Where to house the ladies when they leave town?
Bill Bezuk, owner of Eugene Backyard Farmer in Eugene, Ore., used to offer a chicken sitting service, but biking around town before and after work proved onerous, so he came up with another idea: a luxury chicken hotel.
Bezuk named it The Nest, and for now there are two suites next to Bezuk’s urban farming supply store: The Blue Andalusian and the Gold Campine. (The former is named for a rare breed with black or mottled feathers; the latter is a haughty show chicken with a perky chest.)
The basic service – fresh food, water and a safe place to sleep – costs $2 per chicken per night. For a dollar more, Bezuk offers “deluxe accommodations” – organic food, fresh vegetable scraps and turndown service.
Yes, really. Turndown service.
When the store closes, which is around bedtime for chickens, Bezuk or one of his four employees will lure the hens into the enclosed area with meal worms.
The chicken hotel opened in February, and May is already booked – another indicator that the urban chicken phenomenon grows as city councils across the country vote to approve urban livestock. Bezuk said he plans to add two more split-level chicken suites, each of which houses six to eight chickens.
Bezuk believes that he has the first chicken-boarding business in the U.S. – there are a handful in the U.K., where chicken ownership has also ballooned in the last five years, a response to the growth of the organic and local foods movements.
There’s Fowlty Towers in Cowden, a village in south east England, and The Chicken Hotel in Cornwall, which boasts spa treatments, including emery-board pedicures to “round the tips.”