COOP (Chicken Owners Outside Philadelphia)
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Trading places: Chicken swaps growing in popularity

Source:, North Andover, MA
Date: November 15, 2009
Byline: Eric Parry

Wendy and Constantino Pimentel of Seabrook got their first chicken a few years ago. Today, they have about 150 of them, and more roosters than they can count.

The Pimentels are part of a growing trend in New Hampshire, as an industry once dominated by farmers is being overrun by ordinary residents looking to raise their own food.

"People want to know what they're eating," Wendy Pimentel said.

As the chicken gains popularity, so do events like yesterday's chicken swap at Dodge's Agway Farm and Garden in Plaistow. The swaps are held throughout the state, giving people a chance to buy, sell and trade poultry.

Pimentel organizes a newsletter for all of the chicken swaps in New Hampshire. At least once a month, she travels to a swap to either sell or bring home a new chicken. Yesterday, she was looking to sell 10 chickens and roosters.

Lisa Nolan of Newton went to yesterday's swap to give away seven roosters.

She raises her own chickens, and said four of her neighbors decided to do the same after seeing how much better it was to raise their own food.

"If you haven't had fresh eggs, you'll never go back," Nolan said.

Despite the name, you can find more than just chickens at a chicken swap.

Al Goldstein and John Pomer of Atkinson said any small animals can be traded at a swap, including peacocks and rabbits.

"Sometimes, people are selling goats," Pomer said.

Goldstein said he's even seen exotic breeds at a swap like a phoenix rooster, which is raised mostly for show because of its long tail.

Yesterday, the two Atkinson men — who have been friends for 40 years — were selling about 10 chickens for about $10. But their eight roosters were free, they said.

Although he enjoys the 60 chickens he raises, Goldstein said the main reason he does it is to sell the eggs. He also keeps six llamas at his home.

"I sell the eggs to offset the cost to feed the llamas," he said.