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Mill Valley 'Chicken Whisperer' Cashing In On Latest Silicon Valley Trend

MILL VALLEY (CBS SF) -- At Leslie Citroen's Mill Valley home, it's easy to see who rules the roost.

Citroen began raising and breeding chickens 10 years ago as a hobby, but it has now become a growing business. Chicken ownership has joined Teslas, green living and body hacking as one of the hottest trends in the Silicon Valley.

"I do not call myself the chicken lady, I call myself a chicken broker," Leslie Citroen told KPIX 5.

The Washington Post has another name for her -- "Chicken Whisperer" -- because her expertise is in high demand right now by affluent Silicon Valley tech workers who have taken urban chicken raising to an ultra-competitive level.

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"I know people are just speechless when they hear what people down there are feeding their chickens," said Leslie Citroen. "With the organic watermelon or the salmon, but I think that's just a reflection…they probably treat their dogs the same way too."

Citroen also builds custom coops for her client, some costing tens of thousands of dollars. And she says exotic breeds are favored like Amy, a hybrid called an "Easter Egger" because of the blue eggs she lays.

Leslie's son Luca, who helps operate "Mill Valley Chickens" says besides collecting really cool looking egg there is a genuine desire to eat healthier and more-ethically produced food.

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"I don't think it's really a fad, in a sense," Luca Citroen told KOIX 5. "I think it's more of a life-style change that's been slowly happening. People are kind of getting away from the concept of the separation of farm and food."

Maybe it's about health or perhaps people who spend all day in a virtual world just need to connect with something real. Whatever the reason, Silicon Valley is enjoying its connection to the farm.

Has this become kind of a status symbol down there?

"I would say it's become a status symbol, but they truly do care about their chickens," Leslie Citroen said. "They care about what they're eating and why not have beautiful pets?"

In the tech world, you have to strike while the market is hot and Citroen's timing turned out to be "impeccable."

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