Although cats and dogs are still the kings and queens of household pets, chickens are fast catching up. More and more people are loving chickens, more for what they are than for what they bring to the dinner table. Perhaps it is because people are realising that chickens are actually birds with brains, or perhaps they have gotten a peep at that fabled chook-y quirkiness and fell in love. Whatever the reason is, this newfound love for chickens has got them moving from the chicken coops and into the household. As you might imagine with most pets, the induction of chickens into pethood has ushered them into the glitz and glamour of the fashion world. For pet owners who prefer chickens as their companions, they can now dress their chickens to impress.
Many things begin as practical solutions to a problem. When the chicken first flew out of the chook pen and into the home, its humans had to deal with the messy problem of cleaning after it. Chickens, like birds tend to be, are indiscriminate poopers; an owner that happily welcomes one onto his/her lap will get pooped on without pretext nor a trace of remorse on the chook’s part. Thus, the chicken nappy was invented. If you find it difficult to imagine what a chicken diaper could possibly look like, you can imagine an upside-down bonnet, gartered and frilly, that is worn to cap a chicken’s bottom. The stretchy straps extending from the cap that goes under a chin with a bonnet instead goes over the chicken’s breastbone, just above the wings.
Of course, while the main aim of the chicken diaper is to keep things tidy between the chicken and the rest of the house, it has easily evolved into a fashion item. Chicken nappies first came out in all kinds of calico motifs before the designs expanded into every conceivable pattern and print.
You might think the diaper was just about it for avian fashion, but of course, it was not. If you know your backyard scratchers, you have seen how they go about their mating rituals. When a cock reigns sovereign in your chicken coop, all hens eventually submit themselves to his will. Come mating time, you can bet that the cock is on top of things, including his ladies. When a cock feels sexy, he can get rough and start plucking at a poor hen’s poor feathers, sometimes even leaving the back bare and raw.
When breeding season comes around, the knowing chickeneer knows better than to let their hens’ back feathers plucked out into unsightly bare patches. Instead, they can get every hen in the chicken coop a saddle or feather guard. It is not clear who first came up with the idea, but you can be certain that a feather guard fulfils its purpose of keeping feathers intact, and hens lovely and happy. This is the perfect solution for show chickens that need to stay beautiful and fully feathered for the next fair. On a chicken, a feather guard resembles a tiny apron worn on the back, protecting the very spot that the male tends to pluck at during the mating act.
Once chicken couturiers realised the design possibilities for feather guards, they went all out, even experimenting with various materials. Now, feather guards can also double as a chicken coat for warmth during the cold months.
Tutus, knitted sweaters and matched outfits
The niche market for chicken fashion and accessories is still in its fledgling stage, but the range of chicken garments currently on the market is varied enough to dress an entire chicken coop. Tutus are particularly striking in the way these articles agree with the chicken’s inherent shape. One look at a chicken wearing a tutu and you will agree that it is an endearing sight. The tutu is playful yet elegant, perfect for the fancy feathered females in your chicken coops.
Should winter come and chill your chook pen residents, worry not. Knitted sweaters are now on hand for chooks of every size and breed. These chicken clothes also provide an extra layer of warmth and protection for chickens moulting on cold, snowy days.
Finally, chickens can now colour-coordinate their clothes. Chicken clothes designers are now designing entire matching outfits. If you are getting your chook a saddle, you might also want to get a matching nappy for a very put-together look. Of course, the roos should have the right to become as fashion forward as the hens. Many retailers offer choices that are appropriate for roosters and even unisex articles. Still, funky wristbands are also becoming popular among pet chicken and bird owners who want to put some sort of identification on their birds in case they stray from the chicken coop.
Chicken clothes and accessories can be practical to downright hilarious, but the fact that they are now in fashion and gathering an increasing following indicates the increasing popularity of chickens as treasured pets. Although chicken will still remain a staple on the dinner table just yet, these clever birds have already transcended that traditional and practical role and are fast winning hearts one colourful tutu at a time.