Pinless peepers, or chicken blinders, are often used to prevent a chicken from pecking and bullying other chickens or pulling its feathers.
But do they work? And do pinless peepers hurt a chicken?
The answer is very simple.
Yes, pinless peepers prevent feather pecking and aggressive behavior.
No, pinless peepers don’t hurt your chickens, as long as you are using the pinLESS peepers and not pinned peepers, which have a single pin that goes through the nostrils. Pinned peepers pierce through the nasal septum of the bird and are banned in many countries because they are painful to animals. This article only addresses the use of pinless peepers as we do not recommend using pinned peepers.
However, using pinless peepers to prevent pecking isn’t always necessary as pecking can be explained by common reasons like chicken molting or boredom. Try and address these issues before turning to the use of pinless peepers.
Why do chickens peck themselves or others?
There are numerous reasons why a chicken starts to peck others or themselves.
- Parasites such as poultry lice and mites
- Lack of protein
- Stress, boredom and bullying
Preventing feather pecking
Preventing and discouraging any pecking towards themselves or other chickens is better than curing afterward. By addressing common causes of feather pecking, we need to look into following issues:
- Provide enough outside and inside space
- Check for vitamin or protein deficiency and increase intake
- Isolate hurt chickens until healed
- Remove bullies temporarily from the flock
- Avoid loud noises or any other stressful situations
- Check for parasites like red mites inside the coop or on the chickens
- Provide enough dust baths
By solving these issues, we’ve narrowed down the chances of feather pecking, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.
When or why use pinless peepers?
Pinless peepers are tiny plastic chicken glasses they wear on their nostrils. It looks a bit silly and funny.
Pinless peepers make it impossible for the chicken to look in front of them, so it blinds the chicken in a sense. By blinding what’s happening right in front of your chicken, chances of aggression towards other chickens get slimmer.
When to use pinless peepers?
As a chicken keeper, you know your flock best. When none of the apparent causes of feather pecking (like lack of space or boredom) apply to your flock, you’ll have to try and work on the pecking problem by breaking the bad habit.
Whether you have one troublemaker or the whole flock shows pecking behavior, it does not matter; you can use pinless peepers on all your chickens or just one. Use the pinless peepers on every chicken that shows a bad pecking habit.
Do pinless peepers stop pecking behavior?
Whether pinless peepers will stop your chickens from pecking themselves or others depends on their personalities. Pinless peepers are not miracle workers but discourage aggression and pecking behavior. Chances of success are relatively high, and because of their low price, you can quickly try them out.
It is actually scientifically proven that peepers significantly reduce feather pecking and feather loss for chickens. The relaxed hens even jumped on a healthier eating pattern with less spilled food and higher egg production in the end.
How do pinless peepers work?
Pinless peepers intend to stop pecking behavior by blocking the direct view of the chicken. By blinding them, it makes your chickens less likely to show interest in other chickens, let alone attack them. Although it blinds their direct vision, the chickens can still see things next to or under them. It doesn’t interfere with eating, drinking, walking around, or dust bathing, but without the drama and mischief they usually get themselves into.
Do pinless peepers hurt chickens?
Pinless peepers are not supposed to hurt your chicken when put on correctly. When placed incorrectly, they can hurt, so keep an eye on them as they might hurt themselves when trying to get it off.
Some symptoms you might notice:
- a swollen lump near the nostrils – usually due to irritation after a long time wearing pinless peepers, fades away over time
- an injured nare – either caused by bad placement or the bird trying to get it off too vigorously
- blood on the beak – a sign of an injury or some minor bleeding from torn tissue when pulling out the pinless peepers
- skin growing around the plastic – can occur when the pinless peepers are worn for longer periods
The blinders are placed on the nostril, so it takes them some time to get used to, but pinless peepers should never be painful in any way.
This raises the next question.
What are Painless Peepers?
‘Painless peepers‘ is sometimes used as a layman’s term for pinless peepers. It’s a painless solution for blinders in chickens but is also used for other birds, like pheasants.
At the beginning of the 20th century, such a painless solution was revolutionary in the poultry industry and a patent was filed for it in 1935.
How do you place pinless peepers on your chicken?
It’s not that hard to install them, but it can take some practice. Make sure you have someone to hold the chicken for you and keep its head steady. Most blinders work the same by following a couple of easy steps. A set of snap-ring pliers can be helpful. Keeping their eyes covered can also calm them down.
Open up the peepers a little by putting and squeezing the pliers as in the picture. Hold the peepers over the chicken’s head and position them above the nostrils. Start by putting one pin in a nostril. Then let the pliers go, so the other pin goes in the other nostril. In one movement, pull the pliers out.
Always read the manual included. Some people find it helpful to warm the peepers by soaking them in water. This makes them more pliable.
The bird will not enjoy the fact that you are putting plastic in her nostrils and will start shaking its head in disbelief. You may notice your chicken behaving weirdly after placing the blinder on its nostril. It’s also possible that the other chickens will start pecking the peepers. But that’s all normal. The blinder takes some time to get used to.
To take them off, just use the pliers to open up the peepers. If you manage to take them off without a crack, you can re-use them later.
How long before you take the pinless peepers off?
Most chicken keepers only use pinless peepers temporarily. You can try them on for a couple of weeks, at first. After taking them off, see if the pecking behavior has disappeared. If not, place back the blinders and keep them on for a more extended period. It doesn’t’ hurt them, so you can easily leave the blinders on for a couple of months.
What material are pinless peepers made off?
Most pinless peepers are either made of polypropylene or polyethylene, the top 2 widely produced commodity plastics. However, polypropylene is much stronger. They both look very similar.
Polypropylene is a little bit more expensive compared to polyethylene, but it’s more rigid. Polyethylene is less rigid and more flexible.
If your chickens are having a hard time keeping their peepers on, you might want to switch to the more rigid ones. On the other hand, if you find your chickens injured or you are having difficulties with squeezing the peepers, you might want to try polyethylene.
Why are they called pinless peepers if they have pins?
The pinless peepers actually have two small pins. The nostrils of the chicken are just keeping the prongs of the peepers in place. They should not damage any delicate tissue in the nose and only fasten on the edge of the nares.
Compare this to pinned peepers, which have a single pin that goes through the nostrils. This kind of peeper pierces through the nasal septum of the bird and is common in the poultry industry but is painful for chickens.
For chickens, we recommend the use of pin-less peepers. These don’t pierce any tissue and reduce the risk of inflicting any damage or pain on our beloved birds.
Credits Featured Image: @hanniganhomestead (IG)