Why did the chicken wear the reflective vest? To be seen as it crossed the road, of course. Though, these particular chicks were initially spotted on social media… boy did they turn heads.
You see, the Glenshieling House Bed & Breakfast in Blairgowrie, Scotland, was recently featured on Inside Edition after a UK reporter came across a video and photos of the hens wearing pink high visibility jackets on Facebook and Twitter. “I had purchased the specially made chicken jackets for two of my more adventurous hens that like to wander down the drive and onto the roadside,” explains Louise Lennox, who co-owns and runs the bed and breakfast with her husband, Richard. “In the first instance it was to make sure they were seen by passing cars, but I also wrote ‘Glenshieling Girl’ and our phone number on the jackets so if they were seen by a passerby they would know the hens belonged to us. I did also realize the potential for a bit of fun and it would make for entertaining viewing on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.” Louise was hoping the hens would generate a social media following and interest more prospective guests. And that they have.
“After the story ran on T.V. in Scotland it seemed to explode and all of a sudden we were being quoted in articles all over the world,” she says, citing news stories in France, India, Italy, New Zealand, the United States, and others. “It was quite exciting and a bit surreal to be sitting in my office watching my hens roam around the garden outside while I was being interviewed over the phone by a reporter from CBS Inside Edition in New York I can tell you… ha!”
The hens are domesticated and chatty – and there are a lot of them. There’s a dozen Isa Brown Hens, which Louise described as hybrid hens that are renowned for being reliable in the laying eggs department. There are two pedigree hens or Silkie's, which are very broody hens, and one Silkie cockerel. All 14 of the hens have names and a very large predator-proof coop. Louise releases the hens from the coop just after mid-day. They often roam the property’s three acres up until their bedtime (sundown) when they return to their coop (unless Louise calls them in earlier). Since guest check-in is at 4 pm the hens are free-ranging when people start to arrive.
“Quite often there is a collection of the girls sitting on the doormat in the porch,” says Louise. She also says most guests are surprised by how tame the hens behave. “The girls will come right up to the guests when I am chatting to them; doing introductions on arrival, quite often the girls will gently start pecking at their footwear... The girls also follow me around like a pack of dogs and I have had lots of requests from guests asking my permission to take photographs too. I can call all the hens and they will come running from all corners of the garden to me.”
The idea for the hens started about three years ago when Louise and Richard first became innkeepers and sat down to review their business plan. They wanted to offer guests locally-sourced foods and provide a unique experience. “I cannot begin to tell you how much our guests absolutely love being served the freshest eggs from the hens they have met out in the garden - they consistently remark on the difference in taste and color from our happy hens,” says Louise. “Our hens and their eggs have even made it into quite a lot of reviews posted by our guests on TripAdvisor - great reading for prospective guests that are comparing properties for their vacation.”
As a way to maximize the ‘overnight’ success, Louise, Richard, and the girls have kicked off a Facebook contest whereby participants must like and follow the B&B’s page (not just the post), share the post, and comment that they’ve done it. There will then be a drawing on a set date to select the winner who will receive a free 2-night stay in a newly renovated room.
While the response to the contest hasn’t been as large as she’d like the number of viewings on the Facebook page has risen sharply and the initiative has been incredibly successful. “We have achieved what we set out to do which was to raise our profile,” notes Louise. “It has also given us a great excuse to encourage our current guests to check us out on Facebook and they are quite tickled when they are told they are eating the eggs laid by the famous #glenshielinggirls.”