July 2013
Through the Fence

Chicken Diapers

Whoever invented disposable diapers deserves a medal. Despite the enormous toll they take on the environment and the vast amount of room they take up in city landfills, they are a great improvement over their predecessors. For the last few decades, they have spared mothers countless hours of washing cloth diapers.

However - not to state the obvious - but diapers are for humans. You couldn’t prove that to some well-intentioned pet owners. I’ve seen some pretty miserable-looking pooches in dog diapers, either because they were in heat, incontinent or because their owner couldn’t or wouldn’t take them outside to do their business. I’ve even seen a pet monkey wearing a little diaper. As incomprehensible as it seems, some genius brought their pint-sized primate on a trail ride. I figured at that point I’d literally seen or heard it all … I was wrong.

Last week at the lunch table at school, I overheard a snippet of a conversation between two other teachers. Feeling certain I had heard them wrong, I interrupted and asked for clarification. I could have sworn she mentioned she had seen a website advertising chicken diapers. She had indeed. Apparently, some lady is parlaying this unmet need into a profitable online business. There’s even a video on the site demonstrating how to put them on.

"What will they think of next?" I said, not really expecting an answer. The lady continued, "Oh, yes, they have rabbit diapers, too, and disposable duck slings for ducks raised in captivity on slick concrete floors that develop foot problems." I’m sure my open-mouthed stare conveyed my incredulity. I never have obeyed that internal voice telling me to quit while I’m ahead. I was scared to ask her what else they sold, but I did.

"They also carry a full line of little jackets for hens in a variety of colors and designs," she continued enthusiastically. She was so excited; I started to wonder if she was a representative of the company. I just couldn’t stand it anymore and laughed out loud. "I’m gonna have to call BS on that," I answered when I finally got a breath. "Oh no," she said with conviction, "it’s true." She described the jackets as looking like cute, little toddler outfits.

By this time, everyone seated within earshot was listening to the bizarre conversation. We had to ask what purpose the jackets served. She continued with the matter-of-fact directness of a science teacher. "You know," she said, lowering her voice, "chicken mating can be pretty brutal." She had our attention. "It’s quick and without much fanfare beforehand. Those roosters just hop on the hens’ backs and get the job done. But not without digging their sharp spurs into the hen’s back. By the time he’s bred her several times, she can be in pretty rough shape and missing lots of feathers. So the jackets cover the hens’ bald backsides until their feathers can grow back. In the meantime, they look pretty snazzy."

She told us all the name of the website, as if we were all going to rush out and order a case of chicken diapers and matching jackets. We were jarred out of a dazed state of disbelief by the bell’s rude reminder that our brief lunchtime had come to a close. Otherwise, we might have sat there in shock another 15 minutes and been late to our afternoon classes.

That enlightening conversation will definitely make it onto my list entitled, "You can’t make this stuff up!"

Lisa Hamblen Hood lives near Priddy, Texas, where she teaches English, Art and Spanish. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..