Yes, chickens in sweaters are kind of cute, but it's generally a bad idea to dress up your chicken in a sweater for long-term use. There have been some news articles about knit sweaters on chickens in England and in America. They're available to buy on sites like Amazon and Etsy, and chicken sweaters have even started a trend of chicken scarves and hats, too.
But despite the cuteness of a chicken in a sweater, sweaters are rarely a good thing to put on a chicken. Sure, they're fine for a fun photo shoot, but as tempted as you might be to wrap up your pet chickens to keep them warm while inside your chicken coop, you're better off foregoing the sweater entirely. Here's why.
1. Sweaters Might Make Your Chicken Colder
One way that chickens regulate their body temperature is by fluffing their feathers. They trap pockets of air in the downy layers of their under-feathers, which insulates them quite well.
So what happens when you put a cute sweater on a chicken? Well, they can't fluff their feathers as well - or at all. A sweater seriously compromises your chickens' ability to regulate their own temperature. In fact, a chicken in a sweater might feel colder than a chicken in no sweater at all.
2. Sweaters Might Make for a Wet Chicken
A wet sweater will not dry as fast, or as well, as a chicken's own feathers. A little rain shower, a splash from the water dish, a romp in the snow, and you have a chicken that is going to be wet for a while, which will interfere with a chicken's natural ability to regulate its temperature. Sweaters will also trap moisture. Damp conditions can lead to mold, mildew, and chills.
3. Sweaters Are a Great Hiding Spot for Lice and Mites
You are less likely to notice lice and mites covered by a sweater. Lice and mites are a common chicken pest that you, as a responsible chicken owner, have to be vigilant about. Don't give lice and mites their own cozy knit headquarters and skip the knitted sweater or chicken jumper.
4. Ouch! Sweaters and Pinfeathers Don't Mix
Sweaters can interfere with feather growth. When a new feather grows in, it's short, spiky, and covered with a thin sheath. These are called pinfeathers. It's not pleasant for a chicken to catch new feathers; it hurts like when you catch a hangnail. A sweater is ideal for catching prickly pinfeathers and irritating your chicken or causing pain.
5. Sweaters Are a Germ Vector
A sweater on your chicken will pick up germs, traces of poop, and coop bedding. Therefore, the sweaters, after some wear, will need to be washed. Bringing dirty chicken sweaters into you house is unsanitary. Are you washing those in your kitchen or bathroom sink? Ewww.
6. Sweaters Can Lead to Bullying or Bloody Chickens
Chickens are curious creatures, and it's not unusual for them to investigate things by pecking with their beak. As you likely know, when chickens draw blood, they'll generally keep going until you have a very injured chicken. The last thing you want is for a cute chicken sweater to lead to pecks and bullying.
7. Sweaters Make Colorful Targets for Predators
Cute and colorful sweaters make your chicken more visible to predators. Why make your chicken easier to spot in a red, yellow, white, or striped sweater when that might be the factor that catches a hawk or raccoon's eye?
8. Sweaters Don't Let Chickens Dust Bathe
Chickens love to get down and dirty by taking a dust bath. A sweater completely interferes with a good dust bath. Since dust bathing is how your chickens stay clean, control mites and lice, and keep their feathers in top condition, you should skip the sweater. It's not a great idea.
9. Just Because It's Cute Doesn't Mean You Should Do It
Surely you have better things to do with your time than dressing your chicken in a cute little sweater. Isn't there something to fix in your coop? Is there an organization you could volunteer at? Can you bake a pie or cookies? Clean out your car, organize your closet, start a novel? There are so many things you could do that would be more useful or worthwhile.
That said, there are many groups that rescue ex-battery hens, which tend to have very few remaining feathers or may even be featherless. So, in the case of rescued battery hens, a chicken sweater might actually be appropriate.
As mentioned above, there may be an instance or two where the chicken sweater is necessary, but for the most part, you should skip putting a sweater on your feathered friends. They will be much more happy without it!
What is your favorite reason to put a chicken in a sweater or to skip the sweater? Let us know in the comments and share this good info with you friends!
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