When I initially considered the idea of starting my backyard flock, there was so much I didn’t know. Now, here it is a year and a half later, and I am finding that I am still learning about chickens each and every day. However, this is one topic that never entered my mind in relationship to chickens—that of diapers and chickens wearing them.
I mean, think about it. Would you have thought, in your wildest of dreams, that you, or someone you know, would be putting diapers on, of all things, a chicken? I know that for myself, this idea would never have entered my mind before.
In fact, if you gave it much thought at all, you would probably find that the idea of putting said diapers on a chicken would be hair-brained at best. But, as is the way, times have changed, and diapering chickens is something pretty commonly done nowadays.
There are a variety of groups created on Facebook dedicated expressly to the keeping of poultry in the home. As such, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the interest of keeping chickens in the home, and not just as backyard flocks, is admittedly soaring.
A recent survey discovered that an estimated 1% of those households located in larger cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, keep one or more chickens. Whether they are traditional backyard chickens or kept as house pets were not differentiated in the data. However, if one were to go by the number of chicken diapers sold, the best guess would be that they are indeed house hens.
It is essential to remember that not all flock owners are built for, or wish to keep house hens. But for those that wish to, there is an option available that makes it much less messy and much more enjoyable.
Make sure to keep reading on to learn more about chicken diapers, and if your choice of using them on your hens are the best and safest choice for your flock.
The Scoop On The Poop
Undoubtedly, the number one reason that many individuals might shy away from the idea of keeping members of their flock indoors is that of—well—the poop–a LOT of poop. Chickens were designed by nature the be little poop factories, as they poop in the morning, they poop in the evening, they even poop in their sleep. They pretty much poop ALL the time!
Who wants to walk through their home, only to find a little chicken “landmine” and having to take time out to clean your shoe and it up? Now imagine doing this all day, and night, long. Undoubtedly you can see the dilemma.
Plus, there is the fact that the bigger the breed of chicken, the more the poop they are able to create. I personally know this for an absolute fact, as my flock consists of only five Australorps, which is a somewhat larger breed than most, and boy oh boy—they are genuinely feathery little poop machines. I kid you not!
Chickens And Diapers
For thousands of years, chickens were just that, chickens. They lived their chicken lives, doing what chickens do. They were considered a barnyard animal, and never was there a thought that they would ever take up residence in our homes. And much like their other barnyard residents and counterparts, they were delegated to live their lives outside in either barns or coops.
Then, as time went on, they became what was referred to as “warehouse” animals—those animals that were packed shoulder to shoulder in barns by the hundreds of thousands. These chickens were seen only as egg producers, and when their egg-producing days were over, sad as it was, so were their lives.
In the last several decades, there has been a significant shift in how many flock owners and people perceive chickens, as well as how they are subsequently treated. Initially, the change came about because people had a growing desire to know where their meat and eggs originated from, which prompted a rise in what became known as the current day backyard flock movement.
It was inevitable that it only a small short hop from there that allowed some flock keepers to allow their chickens to move from the coop to become official members of the household inside of the home.
The problem is that unlike those cute little puppies, chickens are not an animal that takes to being house or potty training, and as a rule will poop anywhere and everywhere—whenever they please. This pooping tendency, as you can imagine, presents with a somewhat considerable, and uncleanly, inconvenience.
If chickens only pooped twice a day, then hey, no problem! In reality, they poop a lot—one would say all day and all night—much more at night.
So, if you are find that you are contemplating the possibility of keeping members of your flock in your home and don’t want their unsightly messes to clean up all day long, the answer very well may be that of using chicken diapers.
What Are Chicken Diapers
Undoubtedly, one of the best inventions in a while, at least in the minds of flock keepers, is that of chicken diapers. Many may very well consider them to be a blessing and an answer to a prayer.
As the name suggests, chicken diapers are—well—diapers for chickens. Most often, these diapers are constructed of a delicate material that is made to rest upon your chicken hindquarters. Not only are the diapers easy to put on and remove, but they will not injure or damage said tail feathers in any manner.
The process itself is definitely not rocket science, but more like barnyard science. When the chicken has “filled” the diaper, you remove it and replace it with another one—much in the same manner of diapering a baby.
Advantages To Chickens Wearing Diapers
With the advent of these types of diapers, those individuals who have longed and wished for a method to be able to keep their chickens inside their apartment or house are now able to do just that. And, without the cleanliness and mess issues that they would have had to deal with before.
Some flock owners find the diapers a handy resource not so much for keeping their chickens in the home as pets, bt more for use in medical situations. Either way, they prove to be a very handy item to have on hand.
If a member of their flock comes down sick or ailing, the flock keeper now has the ability to bring that member into the home, to care for the chicken adequately, without the worry of the mess that might ensue. Through the use of diapers, there will be no worry of having to clean and mop 24/7 as a result.
Should Your Chickens Wear Diapers?
So, now the question is—is there any reason chickens can’t, or shouldn’t, wear diapers? There isn’t any real reason why they can’t unless the chicken is somewhat rumpless. Case in point, the Araucana has little to no rump, which unfortunately makes it physically impossible for these breeds of chickens to wear or keep a diaper on.
Even chicks a young as four weeks old are able to wear diapers, given that they have already grown out their stiffer tail feathers. It is worth making not of here that there is a physical requirement for chickens to be able to wear diapers.
They need to have a tail “knob” that will serve to help hold the diaper on. This “knob” requirement is the main reason that, as stated before, Araucana and other such rumpless chickens are unable to wear diapers.
The Diaper Itself
Chicken diapers operate on the same principles as that of a human baby’s diaper. Both are designed to capture, trap, and contain moisture. In regards to chickens, this leads to that area being moist constantly and also containing feathers.
For the health and safety of your chicken, its diaper should be changed at least every 3-4 hours. This frequent changing is to aid in both preventing smell from developing and to keep your chicken’s hindquarters clean and sanitary—or at least as much as they can be considering they are chickens that are wearing a diaper.
You can keep an eye out for how much the diaper sags, which will clue you into it when it is needing to be changed. If you notice the diaper is sagging, change it. If you don’t notice a sag, then you will definitely know that a changing it is needed by the presence of odor. If the odor becomes too strong, you can rest assured that the diaper is definitely needing a change.
When changing the diaper, it is suggested that you gently clean the feathers as much as possible—being that a chicken is designed for its poop to drop straight down to the ground, which helps in the changing of the diaper.
The feathers around the vent area are prone to becoming quite messy, even if not contained in a diaper, so it is recommended that a daily bathing of their hindquarters would be a good routine to start and maintain. The chicken may not like the idea of it at first, but as time goes on, they will assuredly adjust to the routine.
If the area seems to be staying overly messy, a good trimming of the feathers in that area will go a long way to aid in keeping it clean and dry.
Putting The Diaper On
When it comes to diapering your chicken, the process of putting it on can vary. With that said, the general approach will be very similar to that of diapering a human baby. You will gently put your chicken’s leg through the holes, and then pull the thread gently to tighten them around them.
Some varieties come equipped with a bow that can function to aid in the tyin up the diaper and better secure it to the chicken. If you find that the bow seems to have a tendency to come loose, you choose to tighten it up some by sewing it. When it is time to remove the diaper, you only need to untie the bow, and the diaper will fall from the chicken to the ground.
When you change the diaper, if possible, allow them a little time before putting one back on. This time out of the diaper will allow your hen the time they need to naturally oil and preen their feathers. This procedure is vital in maintaining optimal health and feather appearance.
As a rule of thumb, your chicken should not forced made to wear a diaper 24 hours a day. In most cases, you will place your house hen in a cage or a place of safety at night, and it is at this time you may remove the diaper. By removing the diaper, you will allow their tushies to air out to elevate possible smell and moisture that may occur during the day.
As with human infants, it is essential you keep a close eye on your chicken. If any signs begin to appear of possible redness or irritation to the skin beneath the feathers where the diaper is located, they should be quickly addressed. Simply treat the area with a soothing cream such as “Bag Balm” or the alternative of a soothing salve.
What To Know Before Purchasing Diapers
Believe it or not, there are actually quite a variety of chicken diapers on the market from which you can choose. Those offerings that tend to be on the upper end and somewhat pricey can be custom made to form to your chicken—presenting with a much better fit overall. All you need to do is send in the measurements of your chicken, and the diaper will be made to comfortably fit your hen.
With that said, for more basic needs, a cheaper version will certainly get the job done. As stated before, there are quite a variety of chicken diapers available on the market, so make sure to do your due-diligence and research so that you both understand what you need and what you are purchasing. The last situation you want is for the diapers to be uncomfortable for your hens to wear.
A few of the variations that prove to be most popular include:
Basic Outside Pouch
For this version, you will need to make sure that you provide a waterproof, absorbent liner.
Inner Liner Pouch
With this version, the pouch comes with a washable inner liner. With this in mind can also use what you have on hand, such as toilet paper or paper towels, to put inside the pouch.
With all chicken diapers, you have the convenience of being able to launder and clean the exterior portion of the pouches, which will then allow you to re-use them over and over many times.
Chicken Diapers—The Pros & Cons
When it comes to the use of chicken diapers on your flock hens, some of the pros are:
- Your hens are able to accompany you on specific shopping trips—say to Tractor Supply to buy their feed.
- Your hens will be able to be house pets and kept in your home, without the worry of the mess that they are notoriously known to make.
- If you need to go out of town or on vacation, a diapered hen would be easier to get a chicken sitter for hands down.
While all this may sound great and groovy, keep in mind that as with most things in life, there is a set of cons as well:
- If the diapers are left on for too long of an extended time, the hen will suffer from soreness, chaffing, and possibly the setting up of skin infections.
- Yes, you will need to trim and maintain their butt feathers when wearing a chicken diaper. If you show your hens, this can be a disqualifier for sure.
- The routine of a daily bath being started and kept up.
What you need to keep in mind is that if you choose to go the route of using chicken diapers for your flock, be prepared to give them a bit more of your attention. If you only have one chicken in diapers, this may mean just a few minutes a day. However, if you have several, those minutes can quickly turn into hours.
Also, it is essential to keep in mind that even though the chicken is in a diaper, that chicken will still poop. In fact, it will not poop any less than if it weren’t wearing a diaper. So, in a nutshell, you will be changing diapers and cleaning fluffy butts as often as you would if there was a human baby involved.
Chicken Diapers FAQ’s
Here are some frequently asked questions about chicken diapers:
Will my chicken diaper fits other types of fowl?
No, unfortunately, they will not. But on the upside, there are several companies that offer diapers to fit ducks, geese, and even turkeys. Much like with chicken diapers, make sure that you purchase the proper size.
Can the diaper be left on overnight?
As mentioned above, it is not highly recommended. If not allowed to air out appropriately, your chickens may start having skin issues or even infections around their vents.
Can A Diapered Chicken Be Left Unattended?
No, definitely do not leave your chicken unattended while it is wearing the diaper. Most all diapers are comprised of a harness fixture that slips over and fits to the wings. As such, the chicken can injure itself if the part of the harness or diaper itself were to get caught on something accidentally.
Can Chickens Be Toilet Trained?
Although there are reported instances of flock keepers having claimed they were successful in the process of toilet training their hens, the answer, in general, is simply—no.
The idea of allowing a hen, or a group of hens, to live inside the home may make many individuals turn up their noses in derision. However, the idea is a doable one, with the use of chicken diapers.
Bringing your flock members inside for health or medical reasons is often a must. And, with the use of chicken diapers, this makes caring for your chickens less stressful for you and them.
Admittedly, house hens are not the most optimal option for many, but for those who love to spend the extra time with their flock members, having them indoors can significantly enrich their lives.
The thing to remember is that you make sure the chicken diaper is sized correctly to your hen. Ensure that you change it at least 3-4 times daily, and clean the hen’s vents between changes. Keep an eagle eye out for any skin rashes or problems, and if necessary, bath the chicken between changes of its diaper.
Lastly, please do not make your hen wear her diaper 24/7. This negligence will only set you up for disaster, and your hen will be the one that suffers in the end. Your chicken’s diaper is intended to help to protect your home, and make you and your hen’s life more enjoyable, not less.