I’m seeing these “cute” chicken sweaters all over the internet at this time of year, but they cause me some concern. First chickens don’t need sweaters to keep warm. They fluff their feathers up to catch air which their body then warms. A sweater stops that mechanism from happening and could, ironically, in the end keep the chicken from getting warm.
Chickens need to preen. Feathers are constantly growing and need to be groomed for both insects and to distribute oil (there is a gland on a chicken’s bum that secretes oil) again, if a chicken is in a sweater, those activities will not happen.
Also, sweaters are made of yarn, whether synthetic or natural, they absorb water keeping moisture next to the chicken. A wet chicken is a cold chicken.
Finally chickens peck at the color red (or dark pink) some of these sweaters are setting chickens up to be pecked at by their mates.
So while I think that these sweaters are cute for a photo shoot, I would hope that any owner would not keep a chicken in a winter sweater long term.
(sorry to be the party pooper on this one)
After I wrote this post, a reader added that some people use these sweaters as aprons to protect hens’ backs from overly amorous roosters. Please don’t use knit sweaters for this purpose, it would be too easy for a rooster’s toes to get caught in the yarn resulting in possible leg injuries. If you need to use an apron, find a garment that is specifically made for that purpose.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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