One of the things I love the most at this time of year is looking at all the photos posted online of Christmas lights. The creativity of the displays, the beauty of the bright colors—it all gets me in the spirit of the season.
I know, I know. I could just as easily jump into my car and drive around town, oohing and aahing. But the decorated homes I enjoy are henhouses, not human houses.
Giving one’s coop some Christmas flair has become increasingly popular amongst flock owners in recent years. Search for variations of the hashtag #christmascoop on your favorite social-media platform. You’ll find images from around the country of chicken coops bearing evergreen boughs, beautiful wreathes and—of course—twinkling Christmas lights.
Sure, we only have a couple of weeks to go before Christmas. But there’s still plenty of time to get in on this new tradition. Before you deck your hens’ halls, however, review these four tips to keep your coop and chickens safe.
Even if your coop is equipped with interior electricity, your decorative lights should stay strictly outdoors.
Chicken coops are notorious for dust—from shed skin and feathers, feed, droppings and litter—and dust is notorious for coating light fixtures. With dozens of individual lights on each string, the potential for clogging and burning out bulbs—or worse, sparking and igniting the dust and bedding—is high.
Beyond the fire hazard, light strands also provide your chickens with yet another place to perch … and unstable ones at that. If you plan to hang lights, hang them securely on your henhouse’s exterior at a height where curious chooks can’t reach them.
One thing I’ve learned as a mother of four active boys is that even “shatterproof” ornaments can shatter. Whether they are traditional balls, whimsical figurines or modern icicles, these decorations can pose a health risk to your flock should they shatter.
The jagged edges of broken ornaments can slice poultry toes. Worse, with their inquisitive attraction to all things shiny, chickens might find smaller shards irresistible and ingest them. This could severely damage a bird’s digestive tract.
Reserve these holiday adornments for your tree and your home’s interior. Although there are no guarantees that they won’t fall victim to human foibles.
Beautifully draped boughs and wreaths of holly, pine and other evergreens are a hallmark of the winter holidays, evocative of Old World forests and symbolic of the season’s many beliefs and traditions.
While the leaves and berries of these and other ornamental plants have varying levels of toxicity for humans and household pets, they are not dangerous to chickens … unless the needles and leaves have been chemically treated.
Fake snow and preservatives can indeed adversely—or lethally—affect your birds if ingested. And their chemicals can irritate delicate eye tissues and respiratory tracts. If using decorative greenery on your coop’s exterior, make certain that these are natural and untreated to keep your birds safe.
Sometimes the best winter decorations are the ones right in front of us. If you live in a snowy region, consider adding a festive touch to your coop with snow.
The roofs of chicken coops dusted with a fine blanket of snow and windows frosted with a touch of ice already look like they belong in a Currier and Ives Christmas village. Enhance this winter wonderland by adding a few festive snowmen and snow sculptures around your flock’s run.
For an additional holiday treat, roll parts of your snowman in bird seed before assembling it. As the snowman dissipates, your chickens will enjoy its departing gift.