Recently while enjoying a day off and watching a rerun of one of my favorite shows, Storage Wars, I learned that chickens used to wear glasses.
Wait, chickens used to wear glasses? Really? Yep, believe it or not, it’s true!
I’m sure that serious poultry farmers are already well aware of the fact that at one time chickens wore glasses, but for me it was an interesting piece of history that I wasn’t aware of. I’m sure that some of you other urban farmers will also find it interesting as well so I’ll share what I’ve learned.
What are chicken glasses all about?
Chicken glasses date back to at least the early 1900’s. In fact, United States patent 730,918 was granted to Andrew Jackson Jr. on June 16, 1903. Andrew’s patented chicken glasses were basically an early version of safety glasses for poultry as they were meant to help protect chickens from getting their eyes pecked by other birds in the flock.
In an effort to improve the functionality of chicken glasses, in 1939, National Band & Tag Company founder Joseph Haas created “Anti-Pix”. Anti-Pix were small aluminum framed glasses with heavy gauge red plastic lenses mounted on hinges. Small stainless steel pins, inserted through the nostrils, held the glasses on the top of the chickens beak. When the chickens held their heads upright the red lenses rendered the birds color-blind, eliminating their ability to detect raw flesh and blood. You see, chickens are instinctively cannibalistic and have a natural tendency to peck one another. Pecking is the chickens way of establishing hierarchy within the flock, which is where the term “pecking order” comes from. Also, being that the red lenses were mounted on hinges, the chickens had clear and unobstructed vision while lowering their heads to feed.
Here is a great newsreel from 1947 about chicken glasses.
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Where can I buy chicken glasses for my birds?
Unfortunately, it seems that you can no longer buy those fancy hinged chicken glasses and it also seems that they are pretty rare these days. If you happen to stumbled upon any while picking through an old barn or an antique shop, make sure to get them appraised because some of them are quite valuable could put a few extra dollars in your pocket.
While good old chicken glasses are no longer available for purchase, blinders are still produced and used on chickens to help prevent pecking. If you’re in the market, you’ll find that some blinders have pins and others are pin-less.
Do your chickens have a pecking problem? Would you ever accessorize your chickens with fancy rose colored glasses? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts!