Some chickens do wear glasses, yes. Not to improve their vision as we do, however, but to stop them bullying other chickens by pecking at them and causing injury.
Chicken glasses started out as rose-colored glasses. This was because the rose tint was believed to stop chickens from seeing red blood on other chickens, as seeing blood was believed to encourage more pecking.
Modern-day glasses are called Pinless Peepers. They're not rose-tinted and are designed to obstruct a chicken’s vision slightly.
They’re made of plastic and essentially work in a similar way as blinders do for larger animals, but have a different purpose.
Do They Put Glasses on Chickens?
Yes, believe it or not, chickens do wear glasses sometimes.
If you’ve seen pictures online of chickens wearing what look like tiny pairs of spectacles, it’s not some kind of joke or meme.
They’re not actually wearing eyesight correcting lenses though.
Chickens wear - or are fitted - with something called Pinless Peepers, which look like tiny pairs of glasses that sit on their beaks.
This little device is designed to alter how well the chicken can see, and as a result, stop them from pecking and picking on other hens.
Sometimes one or more hens will pick on others in the flock. It’s usually down to the pecking order hierarchy that forms, and it’s hard to put a stop to without removing the hen.
Here is a video demonstrating how to fit pinless peepers, and how it helped put a stop to bullying in this flock of chickens:
Do Pinless Peepers Really Work?
As with just about any product, you’ll get some people saying they work perfectly and resolve all their issues - and some people will say it didn’t work.
Personally, I’ve seen that pinless peepers work, and from my own research online and speaking with others in the backyard chicken community, most owners swear by them.
I also want to jump in and say that it doesn’t harm a hen putting pinless peepers on them. It’s a simple process that requires nothing more than a pair of pliers.
Hens can still go about their day and do all the things they’d normally be doing, too (minus pecking other chickens!).
They can eat and drink without obstruction, and watching a hen with pinless peepers on move around, they really don’t seem bothered.
If you look at these pinless peepers on Amazon from Weilan, you’ll be able to read hundreds of reviews and some of the questions and answers owners have about them:
Unless you’re going to remove your problem hens, I don’t know of a better or more effective way to stop them picking on your other hens.
Pinless peepers are certainly one of the quickest ways to put the brakes on an aggressive hen.
Why Do Chickens Wear Red Glasses?
Red chicken glasses, also known as chicken goggles, chicken specs, or pick guards, actually date all the way back to the early.
This clever invention was first patented by a man called Andrew Jackson Jr. in 1903.
Chicken farmers figured out that attaching some form of blinder would stop aggressive chickens from pecking and injuring others in the flock.
Unlike blinders that horses wear, chicken pick guards actually still allow them a wide range of vision, but it’s enough to hinder them from pecking other hens.
In the early designs, a pin was put through a chicken’s nostril to hold the two oval eyepieces in place.
Fortunately, today the designs are a lot more chicken-friendly and simply clip onto a chicken’s beak using a pin.
Hence the ‘pinless’ part in the pinless peeper name.
Attaching a pair of glasses was also a lot more humane than the practice of trimming a bird’ beak, which was also performed many years ago.
Related - Would a chicken’s beak grow back?
Why Do Chickens Wear Rose Colored Glasses
Following on from the first crude designs, red-tinted or rose-colored glasses followed.
Rose-colored glasses were thought to be more effective than other colors or completely blocking the vision of a chicken as they didn’t block out part of their vision.
It was believed the rose tint disguised the color of blood, at least for the area of vision in front of a chicken.
This reduced cannibalism within flocks as it was often the sight of blood on another chicken that would promote aggressive behavior.
I’ve not been able to find a study comparing the effectiveness of rose-colored glasses vs red plastic ones, but it’s generally believed that the tint was not as effective.
This is because chickens actually have very good vision. Chickens see in full color, and even have an extra UV cone enabling them to see a wider range of colors than us.
For this reason, and because it’s more cost-effective and easier to fit, today the standard is to fit pinless peepers onto aggressive chickens.
There you have it, chickens do in fact wear glasses. If someone has told you they do, or you’ve seen a picture of a hen with specs on her beak, it’s real.
Chicken’s aren’t wearing glasses to correct their vision though, it’s quite the opposite.
They’re wearing pinless peepers to obscure their vision and stop them from harming other hens.
So, on a cautionary note, if you see a chicken wearing glasses, you know they’ve been aggressive or being bad in some way!