As the caretaker for five backyard chickens, I received texts from numerous friends linking to stories about the Centers For Disease Control’s warning against dressing chickens in Halloween costumes. That wasn’t high on my list of October activities anyway—I once attempted to correct my chicken’s pendulous crop by slipping a cut-up tube sock onto her chest, and I ended up with scratches from fingertip to shoulder. Chickens don’t really like wearing clothing.
But that aside, it turns out the CDC issued no anti-chicken-costume guidance—the news was misreported. So let’s set the record straight: Go ahead and turn your hen into a witch or whatever, if that’s your thing.
It’s unclear where the initial rumor about the CDC’s no-chicken-costume policy came from. There’s no anti-costume warning on the agency’s website, though the CDC has issued guidelines for safe handling and keeping of backyard poultry. (Namely: “Don’t kiss your birds or snuggle them.”)
As long as chicken owners take precautions to make sure they’re not spreading salmonella—wash hands, don’t let chickens inside a house, don’t eat or drink in the areas where chickens live—then it should be fine to dress them up like Hennifer Lopez or Feather Flocklear or Chick Jagger. Maybe just put on a thick pair of elbow-high work gloves first.