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Decking the halls of your coop and run with some safe, chicken-friendly decorations is a great way to get your flock — and family — into the holiday spirit.
When the holidays roll around, we love decorating our homes in festive finery, but don’t forget your chicken house! Decking the halls of your coop and run with some safe, chicken-friendly decorations is a great way to get your flock — and family — into the holiday spirit.
Holiday decorations aren’t complete without a wreath on the coop door, but I go a step further and make stockings for each chick. When I was young, my mother made our Christmas stockings, so I took her crafty, inexpensive idea and created my own personalized stocking set.
Small, plain velvet or felt stockings are available in 3, 6, or 12-packs at most craft stores. With craft glue, write out your chicken’s name. Sprinkle over the glue with some silver or gold glitter and let it dry. The first time I made personalized stockings, I had eight hens. To make hanging easier, I nailed the stockings to a scrap of barn wood, then nailed the board onto the coop. I keep the stocking decorations on the outside of the run so they don’t peck at the glitter and for holiday photo ops for the family. Every day during the Christmas season, I visit the coop to collect eggs and smile when I see their stockings.
Nest Box Curtains
Hanging holiday-themed nest box curtains for your girls is not only a fun way to decorate the coop, but curtains can also serve several important purposes.
In the past, I’ve had problems with egg eating. Hanging curtains over the nest boxes will help to conceal freshly laid eggs from the nosy flock. Curtains can also help with privacy when hens are laying. I’ve had a few nosy hens who won’t leave the others alone when they are trying to lay. Sometimes fights break out, and I’ve had to shoo out nosy hens. A nest box curtain helps shield the laying hen from prying eyes, offering a little privacy in a busy coop and reducing nest box battles.
Hens also have an innate need to lay in a dark, quiet spot. This instinctive sense most likely is to protect their offspring from natural predators. Curtains help to keep the light out, making hens feel more secure and protected.
When hanging curtains over nest boxes, make sure no long strings are dangling that hens can peck at or ingest, as ingesting a long thread could lead to an impacted crop. Avoid glittery material, as shiny, sparkly objects attract pecking attention. Use inexpensive material and just throw them away at the end of the season, or better yet, hang holiday potholders over the nest boxes for a “no sew” option.
Chicken Waterer Christmas Tin
I love when my Christmas coop decorating also has a useful purpose. When I got my four Polish hens, I didn’t need a large 3- or 5-gallon waterer, so I’ve been using the smaller quart-size chick drinkers. The smaller waterers help prevent the Polishes’ fluffy crests from getting wet and freezing. However, the small chick waterers freeze quickly in our frigid Midwest winters. The solution was right in front of me in the holiday aisle of Walmart. I purchased a metal holiday cookie tin, cut out a hole in the side, and wired the tin with a 40-watt bulb. I set the waterer on the decorative tin, and the bulb radiates just enough heat to keep the water from freezing. The festive tin brightens up the otherwise boring waterer. I like the Christmas tin so much, I’m going to change it out for other annual holidays.
Many chicken owners hang holiday lights in the run and around the coop. My coop door has a large window, so any outside light will shine onto the roosts. Since I choose not to light my coop in the winter to encourage year-round egg-laying, I don’t want artificial lights shining into the coop.
If you don’t have windows to worry about or you light your coop to encourage egg-laying anyway, Christmas lights are a fun and decorative addition to your holiday coop décor. If you do add light, it’s essential to take necessary precautions to keep your flock safe and avoid fire hazards. Keep decorative lighting on the outside of the run and not attached to the coop. Attach lighting onto wire poultry netting or hardware cloth around your run and not against any wood siding.
Better yet, invest in a string of outdoor-rated LED lights. While they might be more expensive than incandescent light, LED bulbs are cool to the touch and safe for children and animals. They last longer than incandescent lights, use less energy, and the bulbs shine much brighter. Even if left on for hours, the bulbs remain cool. Be mindful of package guidelines that show the maximum number of strings that can be safely plugged together, and never string together lighting of different lengths or different bulb sizes, which could overload a circuit and create a fire hazard. If you don’t have an electrical source, battery-powered or solar lights are an option.
Recycle Cotton Masks for Christmas Treat Hammock
At the beginning of the pandemic, I went on a mask-making frenzy. I now have a sack of masks I don’t use — some with lovely holiday prints. After brainstorming how I might repurpose my adorable cotton masks, I hit on a holiday treat hammock.
Spread open the mask-hammock to make a feeding trough, then simply hang the elastic ear loops from two hooks. I actually made a stand for my mask-hammocks to make them more portable. Fill with scratch, a little scrambled egg, or chop up a little garlic, kale, or herbs like thyme or oregano. Even though I don’t get any use out of my old masks, it’s fun watching the girls repurposing my hard work.
Since I’ve started decorating my coop, my friends and family never pass up the opportunity for a holiday photo op with my flock. And I think my hens love living in their blinged-out digs and posing for Christmas cards.
Originally published in the December 2022/January 2023 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.
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Decorating the Coop for the Holidays
The article discusses various ways to decorate a chicken coop for the holidays, creating a festive atmosphere for both the flock and the family. Here are the concepts used in the article and some information related to each:
Hang Stockings: The article suggests making personalized stockings for each chicken. Small, plain velvet or felt stockings can be purchased from craft stores, and the chicken's name can be written on them using craft glue and silver or gold glitter. The stockings can be nailed to a scrap of barn wood and hung on the coop for a decorative touch.
Nest Box Curtains: Hanging holiday-themed curtains over the nest boxes serves both as a decorative element and a functional purpose. The curtains help conceal freshly laid eggs from the nosy flock, provide privacy for laying hens, and create a dark and quiet spot for them to lay their eggs.
Chicken Waterer Christmas Tin: Using a metal holiday cookie tin, a hole can be cut out on the side, and a 40-watt bulb can be wired inside to provide enough heat to prevent the water from freezing. This not only keeps the water from freezing but also adds a festive touch to the chicken waterer.
Christmas Lights: Many chicken owners hang holiday lights in the run and around the coop. However, if you choose not to light the coop in the winter to encourage year-round egg-laying, it's important to avoid artificial lights shining into the coop. Instead, decorative lighting can be attached to wire poultry netting or hardware cloth around the run.
Recycle Cotton Masks for Christmas Treat Hammock: Old cotton masks can be repurposed as holiday treat hammocks for the chickens. By spreading open the mask and hanging it with elastic ear loops, it creates a feeding trough that can be filled with treats like scratch, scrambled eggs, or chopped garlic, kale, or herbs.
These concepts provide creative and festive ways to decorate the chicken coop for the holidays while also considering the needs and safety of the flock.
I hope this information helps! Let me know if there's anything else I can assist you with.