When I visited Hawaii, on my doctor’s orders, I wore a neoprene brace on my post-surgery knee. Each time I entered the water, I used it as protection from the shells and rocks. It was a simple rubber sleeve that I pulled onto my leg, red on the inside, black on the outside.
|Photo credit: Marc Nozell|
As I was not particularly color conscious, when the brace turned itself inside out after I took it off (wet rubber tends to do that), instead of turning it out again, I simply slipped it back on the way it was the next time I had to use it. Black facing out one time, red the next and then back to black again.
The time I went snorkeling the brace happened to be red on the outside.
I walked out into the bay and immediately some very large fish started slowly swimming around me in a circle. They kept swimming closer and closer. This wasn’t happening to anyone else, just me, the person in the red brace.
Fortunately, I put two and two together, quickly got out of the water and switched my brace to black. When I went back into the bay, the fish left me alone.
Animals are naturally attracted to the color red. It’s a signal that food is right here. Red in its essence signifies blood and injury. It’s a signal of weakness to which others are attracted. Attraction to red is instinctual.
It’s one of the reasons why waterers and feeders for chicks have red bases. The chicks are drawn to the red and investigate, they find the food and water and start eating. Of course, the continuation of using red is not necessary once the birds figure out where the food is but in the beginning, it’s like a shining beacon to them. (It’s here! It’s here!)
If you want to introduce a new method of food or water (chicken nipples, anyone?) it’s a bonus to use red to initially attract the attention of the flock. Have you looked at chicken nipples? All of them have red bases, they’ve done that for a reason.
Even older hens will still respond to the color red. Try wearing a red bracelet or red shoelaces in the hen house, see how long it takes before a chicken comes over and pecks at it (and, from personal experience, can I just advise caution to anyone who wears red earrings into the coop? )
This attraction to red is also why it’s imperative that an injured chicken be protected from the flock until healed. A red and bloody back is a signal for the flock to peck at it. You can either isolate the bird or you can cover up the damage with an apron.
A prolapsed vent (the tissue is bright red) will soon be pecked open by others in the flock who see that red as a signal to eat. If the injured bird is left in the flock, soon the prolapsed vent will be complicated by tissue damage and infection.
Knowing that red is a signal for food by your flock allows you to use this information to your advantage. Have something that you want your flock to eat? Go ahead and put it in a red container.
And having this knowledge also allows you to protect the members of your flock who might have gotten injured. The simple rule is, if you see red on a chicken’s body, that bird must be protected until the red is gone.