Why did the chicken cross the road?
Well, whatever the reason, it probably didn’t involve getting hit by on-coming traffic.
It’s unlikely that car-on-chicken fatalities are a major problem — chickens generally live on farms and cars generally don’t drive where there aren’t streets. So it’s not often that a chicken and car come into contact (and, if you think about it, it’s not all that often that a chicken actually does cross a road . . . but that’s a discussion for a different publication). Nevertheless, this is a problem that does occur every so often, apparently. Because someone has tried to solve it.
Those are chickens. They’re wearing jackets. And not just any jackets. Those jackets are fluorescent yellow and pink, and no, the color choices aren’t a fashion statement. They’re for safety. The jackets are “high-viz chicken jackets” made by a UK company called Omlet (really) which are specifically designed to keep chickens safe as they cross the road. And yes, the good folks at Omlet are apparently totally serious about this.
The use case isn’t for the typical farm, though; the Omlet jackets are made for chickens which are being kept as pets. Omlet director Johannes Paul told UPI that “most people who have chickens as pets will have them out and about and we do hear about chickens who do cross the road. If you imagine you are in a built-up area and your chicken gets under the fence, they don’t care if there is a road there. They just go straight across it.” This sentiment was echoed by car blog Jalopnik, which notes that chickens “have little regard for the presence of vehicles, and their feathers are decidedly lacking in reflective qualities.”
The item retails for about $20 (£12.00) on Omlet’s site and also on Amazon (but only in the UK). Whether the jackets actually work, though, that’s another story. Two of the product reviews on Amazon’s UK site are less than positive; one attests that when the chicken-owner puts the vest on the chickens, “they start to fall over and walk backwards!” while another calls the product “cruel” and likely to attract mites to the fowl. The Audubon Society, though, seems to look favorably at the invention: “[the vests] have holes for the birds’ wings and fasten in the front with adjustable Velcro so that the vest fits even the most portly of chickens comfortably. The bibs also contain a body warmer, lined with flectalon (used by NASA astronauts) to help insulate the birds on a cold, fall day.”
So if you have a pet chicken and are concerned about your neighbor’s car, you may want to look into the product further. But buyer beware: you’ll be subjecting yourself to a lifetime of bad chicken-crossing-the-road jokes.
From the Archives: Mike the Headless Chicken: He could cross the street. He just couldn’t look both ways beforehand,