Decorating in and around my chicken coops has become a highlight of the Christmas season for me. Not only are the decorations festive, but several of them serve important functions.
It’s certainly no surprise that Christmas lights are included in a holiday decorating discussion, but, the purpose of hanging Christmas lights inside the coop goes beyond the festive look: promoting egg production. Light is responsible for triggering a hen’s hormones to produce eggs and decreased daylight results in fewer eggs. A laying hen requires 14-16 hours of light to stimulate regular egg production. At the end of summer, as daylight hours dwindle, the result is that chickens begin to produce fewer eggs and molt. Turning on a strand of Christmas lights inside the coop early in the morning with the assistance of a timer will keep laying hens in production throughout the winter months. Contrary to popular myth, hens do not need a break from egg laying in winter; it is physiologically impossible for them to run out of egg yolks and supplemental light in the coop is not harmful to them in any way. Read more about what poultry veterinarian, Dr. Mike Petrik, The Chicken Vet, has to say on this topic HERE.
Frozen water is the bane of a chicken-keeper’s winter existence. Water is of no use to chickens if they cannot access it due to the formation of ice on top. Hens can stop laying eggs for weeks if they are deprived of access to water for even a few hours; ensuring access to clean water at all times is critical to their health and to egg production. A cookie tin water heater solves the problem of frozen water permanently for less than ten dollars and takes all of ten minutes to build and they work with both plastic and galvanized steel water containers.
Most of us have a holiday tin hanging around the house somewhere already, but if not, they are readily available at most dollar stores, thrift shops or after the holidays when they are clearance priced.
The scent of cinnamon evokes fond memories of autumn and winter for many of us and these ornaments are a fun way to bring that scent into the coop. Regardless of how clean a coop is kept, it can always benefit from an olfactory shot-in-the-arm. The ornaments are non-toxic, so in the unlikely case a chicken decided to take a taste, it wouldn’t harm them. Find the recipe and instructions HERE.
If you REALLY want to guild the Christmas lily, hang curtains in a holiday print on the nest boxes and/or on the windows. Nest box curtains aren’t only pretty, they serve many functions including: creating privacy for laying hens, discouraging egg-eating, creating the preferred ambiance for broody hens and concealing broody hens from other flock members. Much more about the many practical benefits of nest box curtains in the chicken coop can be found HERE.
Ginormous, lighted Christmas ornaments are probably my favorite way to decorate the chicken yard. These orbs are made with chicken wire and Christmas lights. For little more than $3.00 each, barren trees in the yard can be transformed into giant Christmas trees! Not only are they beautiful to behold- they’re sure to be the talk of the neighborhood as folks try to figure out how you made them! DIY instructions HERE.
Okay, so this decorating idea isn’t necessarily intended for the chicken coop, but blown egg ornaments are a fun, economical and beautiful way to decorate inside the home while paying homage to our hard-working backyard pets. I have been making them for years and can tell you that you can never start too early in the year. Collecting the eggs is the time-consuming part, but there are a fair number of steps involved, requiring time that is usually in short-supply in the middle of the holiday rush. Step-by-step instructions can be found in this tutorial on my blog!
There are many ways to up-cycle chicken feed bags, but by far, chicken Christmas stockings are my favorite. If you’re not accustomed to saving your feed bags, now is a good time to start, particularly if you intend to make one for every member of your flock. Once you’re in the habit of re-purposing your feed bags, you may wish to try some of these other fun and practical uses for them.