Society

Hen party

Chickens live high life in luxury villas

In a tale that throws dramatic light on the state of China’s luxury real estate market, four villas in Guangzhou have been turned into a henhouse.

Like many of the more colourful stories coming out of China, the situation came to wider attention on the internet, when a disgruntled neighbour posted a video.

Within three days 37,900 people had watched the video file entitled: ‘Luxury villas worth tens of millions used to raise chickens’.

A reporter from the Guangzhou Daily then went to survey the situation and confirmed the four villas – which have swimming pools – contained at least 20 chickens.

Not surprisingly the neighbours are not best pleased. The villas form part of a complex on Yingbin Road, and were marketed for their high-end luxury lifestyle. None of the brochures mentioned anything about chicken farming.

Guangzhou Daily tracked down the man who posted the images. “We spent millions buying this house and never expected our neighbour, who spent tens of millions on the properties, to raise chickens in them,” said the man, who used the pseudonym, Zhang.

Zhang told the newspaper that the situation was disrupting his sleep as until recently the villas had contained cocks – who would crow at dawn each day.

After a barrage of complaints, the villas’ owner consented to removing the more vocal birds. But gobbling hens still remain. According to Zhang around 70 hens have been raised there in the past year.

Websites have been quick to comment on this bizarre situation. Bloggers and commentators are trying to work out what would motivate someone to buy four luxury villas – worth about Rmb20 million ($2.9 million) – and then fill them with chickens.

If it is the work of a real estate speculator, notes voc.com.cn, it doesn’t make sense to keep chickens, since who would want to buy villas that had previously housed poultry? The website then ponders whether it is a billionaire’s experiment with free-range farming. But if that were the case they should have hygiene staff, and so forth.

According to Zhang, a couple of cleaners go in each day, but no one has lived in the villas for a long time. He says that the neighbours worry about the spread of bird flu too – not unreasonably as eight people have contracted bird flu in China this year, of whom five have died.

Perhaps this will prompt the local government to at least ask the owner whether the chickens have been properly vaccinated.

Whether owners should be allowed to turn residential villas into chicken farms might be a reasonable next question.


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