Did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that you would be putting a diaper (nappy) on a chicken?
Well, read on my friends. Chicken diapers may have seemed like a harebrained idea a few years back, but now it is commonly done.
Around 1% of urban households in the larger US cities (New York, Los Angeles) keep chickens. Whether they were backyard or strictly house pets wasn’t differentiated, but judging by the sales of chicken diapers many are house hens!
Keep reading to learn all you need to know about chicken diapers including how to use them and which is the best type for your chicken’s health.
Chicken Diapers 101
In the not too distant past, chickens were seen as barnyard animals – to be kept outside in the barn with the livestock.
Then chickens became ‘warehouse’ animals – they were packed into production barns by the thousands.
Slowly, there has been a big change in how people see and treat chickens. Initially people wanted to know where their meat and eggs came from so backyard flocks became very popular.
It was a short hop to becoming indoor pets and living a life of comparative luxury inside a house.
However chickens, unlike puppies, are difficult to house train and think nothing of pooping anywhere and everywhere whenever they want. This was a big problem. It’s not like chickens only poop twice a day, they poop a lot – all day and all night.
So what happens when you want to keep your chicken in the house but you don’t want to clean up every five minutes? Diapers!
Should Chickens Use Diapers?
There is no doubt that the invention of chicken diapers has been a great blessing to many people.
Those folks who wish to keep their birds inside their apartment or house can now do so without the mess that usually accompanies a chicken.
If the need arises to take a sick or ailing bird into the house for close observation, it’s now possible to do it without having the mop and bucket on 24 hour standby.
Naturally the question arises should a chicken wear diapers? There is no reason they can’t – unless they are rumpless like the Araucana which makes it physically impossible for the chicken to wear a diaper.
Even chicks as young as four weeks can wear a diaper as long as its stiffer tail feathers are grown in. A chicken also needs the tail ‘knob’ to be able to wear a diaper – that’s why the Araucana and other rumpless birds cannot.
Much like a baby’s diaper, chicken diapers are designed to contain the moisture, so this leads to an area that is constantly moist – and has feathers!
The diaper should be changed roughly every 3-4 hours to prevent smell and keep things sanitary back there. Even so, the feathers around the vent are likely to get a bit messy so a daily bathing of the area would also be in order.
Time out of the diapers will also give them time to preen and oil their feathers which is necessary for good feather appearance and health.
They shouldn’t really wear diapers 24 hours day. Ideally at night they will be in a cage or safe place just for them and you can let them ‘air out’ a bit.
Certainly a close eye should be kept for any signs of redness or irritation to the skin beneath the feathers. If there is, treat with a gentle, soothing cream such as ‘Bag Balm’ or any other soothing salve.
Feathers may have to be trimmed to keep the area clean and dry.
What to Know Before Buying
There seem to be a few different types of diaper out there. The higher end of the price range is for diapers that are custom made to fit your chicken. You send in the measurements and they make you a diaper just for your hen!
However, for your most basic needs a cheaper article will do the job well enough. There are a few different types out there so be sure to read and understand what you are getting.
Some are just the basic outside pouch and for these you need to supply an absorbent liner, preferably waterproof.
The next step up are those pouches that come with an inner liner that can be washed, for these type you can use something like toilet tissue or a paper towel to put inside.
All of the exterior pouches can be cleaned, washed and re-used many times over.
The Pros and Cons of Chicken Diapers
Obviously the benefits of diapers are:
- You can take your chicken with you on certain shopping trips!
- Keep it in the house without worrying about mess.
- A friend would be more amenable to chicken sitting for a few hours.
However some of the known problems include:
- Sore, excoriated skin if diapers are left on all the time.
- Need to trim butt feathers (can disqualify you if showing your bird).
- Need for a daily bathing.
The use of diapers means a bit more personal attention to your bird. Although you have eliminated poop around the house, the bird will still poop, so you have to clean up much as you would a baby.
FAQs about Chicken Diapers
Will the diaper fit my duck?
No. However, some companies make diapers for ducks, geese and turkeys. Just make sure you buy the right size.
Can I leave it on overnight?
You can, but it’s not recommended because of possible skin issues (read above for more information).
Can I leave the bird alone while it’s diapered?
No. Since it is a type of harness that fits over the wings it would be possible for the bird to injure itself if it got caught on something.
Is it possible to toilet train a chicken?
It has been done, but in general the answer is no.
So there you have it – chicken diapers!
The biggest problem you are likely to find is that it didn’t fit the chicken quite right and would fall off. So make sure you buy the right size diaper…
Although the hens do get used to wearing them, the first few times are sure to be a challenge for all concerned.
You have to make an allowance for a hen doing everything she can to not wear this contraption until she gets used to it.
Let us know in the comments section below your experience with chicken diapers…