TL;DR Can I see your chickens? Maaaybe…maybe not.
Can I see your operation? I’d love to see your coops! I’d to view your [insert breed here] group. All perfectly reasonable customer requests.
Lots of visitors visit our muddy valley to pick up hatching eggs, chicks and older birds. 90% don’t get anywhere near the barnyard and my “closed flock”. I never offer, and often they don’t ask.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to show off my chicken empire. Not only does it reassure customers that this isn’t a “chicken mill”, but I am proud of my birds, and my hard work. And I know it shows in my healthy flocks and well maintained facilities. But chickens have a thousand ways to die, and biosecurity failures are at the top of the list.
Your speck of mud, from your barnyard, can carry disease to my flocks. Disease my birds have no resistance to. And vice versa. Neither of us need that heartbreak.
If asked, I always say the same thing… “sure, if you change your shoes and don’t touch anything”.
The reactions I get vary from “oh, no worries, these are my barnyard shoes, it’s ok if they get more dirty”, to “Um…” sideways glance “sure…”, to “Huh? Why?”, to a flat out “No!”. Once I explain, most folks are happy to cooperate, but there are always a few who won’t play. That’s fine with me too. I leave the ball in their court.
Some folks seem embarrassed as they refuse, and I wonder why. Are their socks holey? Are their feet bare, or dirty? Do they not like my offered shoes? Or are they worried about their foot odor? Heck, that last one should never be an issue, chicken poop smells a whole lot worse than any feet!
One thing I never worry about is what people think. I simply take refuge in my crazy chicken lady label and let it go, knowing I am doing right by my flocks.