Have your neighbor’s chickens been going in your yard?
Have you been wondering how to keep your chickens identifiable?
Try leg bands! Leg bands are bracelet-like circlets, which can be attached to your chicken’s leg to keep them identifiable.
First, there are several different kinds of leg bands. There are plastic leg bands-
these can become faded and fall off more easily then stronger leg bands, but are the general,
most widely- used type of leg bands.
There are also metal bands- these are almost indestructible. However, if chickens wear them in the snow or extremely cold temperatures, they can freeze
to the leg and cause frostbite. They may also rust if your chicken walks in puddles or other sources of water.
There are also coil/spiral bands, the least desirable type.
They are shaped like a spring. These, unfortunately, get very easily tangled and also fall off easily.
Never use zip ties. They very easily fall off, and can become tangled on shrubbery or low branches- or even the coop wire.
There are also different styles of leg bands. There are open and closed bands. Closed bands are round bands that, originally have a small slit in them. You, to apply the leg band, will slide it over a baby chick’s toes, until it reaches the leg. You will need a special too, like pliers, to close the slit. The chick must be about two weeks old to do this procedure. Get a size larger than the chick’s actual leg so they can wear it when they are adults. If the band is too small, it may cause swelling, sores, and pain on the chicken. Open bands are very similar- except you do not close the slit. It can be put on even after the chick turns into a adult. They can also be removed, which can be helpful if you sell your birds.
You can also customize your bands which what can be anywhere from three to five numbers or letters.
You can also choose your own color- purple, red, yellow, blue, or green- or some other colors, in some stores. Metal bands generally come in silver.
You can use a color coding system to identify your chickens- for example, blue for selling birds, purple for breeding birds, and green for birds you will be keeping.
Make sure you get the correct size. Generally there are three chicken leg band sizes for sale- Bantam,
Chicken and Large Chicken. Occasionally open bands will come in Baby Chick, if the chick will be sold and the band will be removed. Remember to never take an open band off with your fingers. Always get a band remover, or risk hurting the chicken, yourself, or both.
There are also anti-pick bands or ‘poly-peepers’ that prevent the chicken from picking at its feathers. These should not be used for identification because you cannot label them with numbers or letters.
If your bird picks at its band, which is uncommon, attach a anti-pick band. The bird should eventually stop, so you should be eventually able to remove the anti-pick band. Don’t worry; band-picking is uncommon and is not usually going to cause a medical problem, so simply apply the anti-pick band to prevent the bird from picking at either its’ band or feathers.
Occasionally, coil bands will be called ‘bands’ and other bands ‘bandettes.’ Remember, no matter what they are called, they are still bands and can still be safely put on your bird without worrying.
There are pros and cons of banding your birds. The pros are you can claim your bird if it was lost and was found by a stranger; you can also use them to tell your chickens and your neighbor’s chickens apart.
They are also more humane than wing bands and toe punches. The cons are the bands can get stuck on things, other coopmates may grab and pick at the band; the bird wearing the band may pick at the band, and dirt and mud may get stuck on the inside of the band, irritating the skin and, if not cleaned, may cause sores. While the chances of any of the previously mentioned cons happening to you and your bird are pretty slim, it is still something to consider.
While the pros generally outweigh the cons in most people’s perspectives, use your own judgment on the welfare of your chicken. You can prevent your bird from getting hurt by:
· Watching your birds to make sure they are not picking at each others’ bands
· Attaching a anti-pick device
· If the leg band gets dirt in it, gently hold the bird and carefully wash the dirt off with a damp paper towel
Once again, use your own judgment on what is best for your chickens. Leg bands are not for every bird. Take some time to consider before making any big decisions.