Neiman Marcus’ $100K Chicken Coop: Fabulous or Frivolous?


Editor: Owen Ray

Position: Frivolous

Neiman Marcus’ Beau Coop is as frivolous as feeding your chickens 100-dollar bills ground up with white truffles and serving it to them in dishes made of halved Fabergé eggs. I don’t care if the chickens come out with doctorate degrees, monocles and top hats; there is no way to justify putting a couple chickens in a coop that costs almost as much as an Aston Martin Vantage. Screw the birdhouse; you can have an Aston freaking Martin instead.

Slightly cooler than a poultry palace. Put chickens in it if you want.

So you already have an Aston. Then let’s consider what a couple of hens actually need to survive: Feed, water and a box to hang out in to lay eggs and sleep. If you let them run around, eat worms and whatever else they like to peck out of the ground, they tend to be happy, tasty little birds that’ll lay you more eggs than you can shake a quiche at. Last I checked, chickens that live like little big ballers don’t lay more eggs or taste any better on the grill than regular free-rangers. However, I’m sure that snotty mini-mansion-raised hens would be more likely to snub the gardener when they see him at the grocery store.

But your backyard is too fabulous for a run-of-the-mill chicken coop made of plywood and chicken wire, right? You’re right, that mess is for the proles and you shan’t be seen with it. It would, and should, keep you up at night knowing that the eggs on the table in your brunch nook are coming out of the cloaca of un-pampered little beasts living in a plain wooden box.

Imagine the suffering. fishermansdaughter, Flickr CC

Only the best for you and yours, including your farm animals, yes? If that were truly the case, then why would you want this horrid looking little shack bringing down your property value? It looks like a tarted-up children’s playhouse modeled after a Livermore McMansion, not a luxurious lounging area for high-end hens.

Instead, call the contractor that remodeled your 9th bathroom and offer him, say, $70,000 to build you a chicken coop. After he stops laughing at you, I am betting that he’ll be in your backyard about 32 seconds later, starting on the Hearst Castle of bird-barns. You can then spend the remaining $32,000 (I’m not just bad at math, the $100k tag does not include shipping) on a farmhand to take care of the birds for you for a year. This way you have the classiest coop possible, and you don’t have to get your hands dirty until well after the novelty raising your own food wears off.

Editor: Sarah White

Position: Fabulous

In the growing trend of backyard chicken keeping, a hen chateau was inevitable for wealthy pet lovers who make the leap into artisanal agriculture. What W.A.S.P. worth her tweed won’t appreciate a book-filled library for communing with her heritage-breed hens?

The Neiman Marcus Heritage Hen Mini Farm provides that space. It isn’t just a coop to keep your chickens—it’s a Versailles-inspired palace that turns farming into a fantasy. Featuring a library with a chandelier and gardening books, a living room for nighttime roosting and a separate nesting area, the shingled hen house creates an imaginary world where your biggest worries are the comfort and beauty of your animals. It’s chicken Narnia.

Why have any room without a chandelier?

The good news is that in spite of its fanciful appearance, the mini farm is also functional. The $100,000 price tag includes the custom mini farm (plus the accessories you need to keep the hens fed and watered) and a personal consultation with Svetlana Simon, founder of Florida-based Heritage Hen Farm and the designer of the concept for Neiman’s annual fantasy gift section of its Christmas book.

Not only will Simon survey your property to determine the best placement, but she’ll also specify which heritage chicken breeds will thrive in your region. The old-timey hens will be less fruitful than common breeds (laying 3-5 eggs per week), but they’re much prettier. Watch their frothy feathered vermillion combs sway happily in the breeze.

This is not a chicken.

So slip into your whitest diaphanous dress and your sloppiest wellies to frolic as Marie Antoinette once did at Le Petit Trianon. The price is high, but unless you’re running a commercial chicken farm, odds are you’re not looking to save money by keeping backyard chickens. Between materials, vet bills and replacing hens eaten by the neighbor’s German shepherd, amateur agriculture tends to be an expensive venture.

Just embrace the price tag and enjoy your new chicken palace. If the hens don’t work out, repurpose it as a playhouse for the kids. Plus, each purchase includes a $3,000 donation to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, which works to restore the genetic diversity of rare domesticated breeds. As though my case needed strengthening. 


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