Five Reasons to Knit Chicken Sweaters

Updated on September 1, 2017
jennabee25 profile image

Jenn loves animals, and hope to raise positive awareness to issues dealing with the humane treatment of critters.

Keeping Hens Comfortable

I know it sounds bizarre, but, yes, chickens can wear sweaters. Why, you may ask. Little Hen Rescue in the UK rescues hens from commercial farms and puts them out to live their lives as chickens. Often, these hens come back bald, either due to irritation, sickness, or stress, or any number of reasons. Little Hen Rescue takes these hens past their egg laying prime and lets them live their lives as chickens without being sent to the slaughterhouse.

Here I present, in no particular order, five reasons to knit chicken sweaters.

1. It's a Free Pattern

Since this is a charity, Little Hen Rescue has put their pattern and right on their web site, but I have it here directly for you.


Double knitting yarn (100g makes approximately 3 jumpers)

2 buttons or 10cm Velcro

1 pair of number 8 (4mm) knitting needles

4mm crochet hook

Knitted in stocking stitch with garter stitch borders

Cast on 41 sts,

Work 4 rows K

Increase for tabs;

Cast on 10 sts at beginning of next row, k14, p to last 4 sts, k4.

Cast on 10 sts at beginning of next row, k14, p to last 14sts, k14.

Work buttonholes; (work these 2 rows straight if using Velcro).

(K2, yf k2tog) 3 times, work to end keeping edges in garter st.

Repeat this row for buttonholes on the other tab.

Cast off 10 sts at beginning of next row.

Next row - cast off 10 sts, k4, p2 tog, p to last 6 sts, p2tog, k4.

Dec 1 st at each end on every fol 6th row until 25 sts remain.

Divide for neck;

Work 11 sts, cast off 3, work to end - complete this half first.

1) k4, p to end

2) cast off 2, k to end

3) k4, p to end

4) k2tog, k to end

5) k4, p2tog, p to end

Work 4 rows straight

10) K to last 5 sts, inc in next st, k4.

11) K4, p to last st, inc in next st.

12) Cast on 2 sts, k to end, (11sts)

13) K4, p to end

14) K

Break yarn and rejoin to the other side of neck.

Work to match, reversing shaping's and ending at winghole edge.

Next row - k, cast on 3, k across sts from other side of neck.

Next row , k4 inc in next st, p to last 5 sts, inc in next st, k4.

Inc 1 st at each end of every fol 6th row until there are 41 sts on the needle.

Work 6 rows straight.

Change to gst and knit 4 rows.

Cast off.

Sew on buttons or Velcro as desired.

Work double crochet around neck.

2. If You Sew, You Can Also Make Chicken Sweaters

Yup, above is the pattern for making a chicken sweater out of fleece. Fleece is soft and warm for hens.

3. Anyone Can Donate

Just because you don't knit or sew, you can also donate money to Little Hen Rescue directly though PayPal and Google Checkout on their web site. Like any animal rescue, funds are always needed to feed and care for the animals. For those not in the UK, the amount donated is in pounds, and conversion rates will apply.

Where to Send Sweaters and Donations

You can send your sweaters and donations to:

Little Hen Rescue

The Stables



NR15 1QL

United Kingdom

International shipping rates do apply.

4. You Will Be Giving a Hen a Comfortable Retirement

These animals have given their lives to feeding people. Isn't it fitting that we help make their retirement more comfortable? They do not deserve to be killed after their egg laying prime has passed. Chickens deserve to be chickens. No matter how big or small, any animal needs to be treated with kindness, respect, and love.

Besides, aren't they adorable in their sweaters?

Comments Welcome!

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    • profile image


      19 months ago

      Excuse me, but I feel the need to speak up. Please do NOT make sweaters for chickens! This can cause many issues for them. To keep warm, chickens fluff out third of feathers and have what is essentially a feather stuffed coat that keeps them warm naturally. A sweater holds their feathers down and actually makes them colder. Chickens also heat up a whole lot, and water is produced. This can escape when the chicken has airflow to their skin, but once again, they don't because the sweater holds it down. So the sweaters don't keep them warm. Even if they have no feathers, the birds will be growing them back once they are in better conditions. If you've ever shaved something and rubbed your hand against the freshly grown stubble, you'll know that it can be quite painful. So the sweater only serves to stress out the birds (which can slow or stop feather growth), and/or irritate their skin.

      PLEASE DO NOT MAKE CHICKENS SWEATERS! It does NOT help them, and can harm them. If you have a bald bird, the best thing to do is keep it somewhere warm in as stress-free an environment as possible. Please don't encourage people to make these sweaters, they are harmful.

    • martingallagher profile image


      6 years ago

      This is an interesting and nice lens. But seriously these chickens look weird in 'em sweaters.

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 

      6 years ago from California

      Oh my gosh, I've never seen chickens wearing sweaters. They're so cute!

    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 

      6 years ago

      This is such an adorable lens! It is just too sweet and cute for words!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This article truly made my day. I'm profoundly impressed that someone would knit sweaters for chickens. Last week I saw many heroic small birds hopping about in the winter cold that could use your help.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I used to look after and feed and clean the chickens out and one or two of them lost their feathers in fights so I could have done with some sweaters then. Lovely idea.

    • Baddew Fibes profile image

      Baddew Fibes 

      6 years ago

      The title drew me in and got me intrigued. Very original subject - fantastic to read. Thanks for sharing!

    • Adventuretravels profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      I forgot to add - poor chickens!

    • Adventuretravels profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      My friend took in 5 of Little Hen Rescue chickens. They were lovely. They didn't need jumpers though they still had their own feathers. Shame really they would have looked so elegant! Well done this lens is cool.

    • norma-holt profile image


      6 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD and this is a great idea.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      very interesting and innovative idea..looking for more ideas like this...

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      6 years ago

      Pretty memorable! A nice vision to finish my night with. Pinned to several of my boards including "Doing Good" - tweeted as well. Also linked to as related to my own lens:

    • mahatav profile image


      6 years ago

      @Merrci: Yes I also vote for same-every chicken must have sweater

    • mahatav profile image


      6 years ago

      Hello how are you, it seems a innovative idea, i think they deserve sweaters too.

    • JeffGilbert profile image


      6 years ago

      I gotta say, I've heard of a lot of things in my time, but never chicken sweaters. I'm glad that they really do work and they're for a good cause.

    • clevergirlname profile image


      6 years ago


      This is adorable! I'll have hens soon if I have a say!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      6 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I think every chicken should have at least one! Very fun article--Thanks!

    • delia-delia profile image


      6 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! What a great lens and what an adorable project for benefiting hens...knit chicken sweaters...who knew!!!

    • Michelllle profile image


      6 years ago

      Cute sweaters!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      These are the cutest sweaters I've seen. Never knew hens needed sweaters. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Congrats on Lens of the Day :) It is very interesting lens. Thanks for sharing.I personally think that we are using the animals and reusing it (to the extreme) but sadly we throw them away like flies for the milk when they get old.Thanks for putting some sense of humanity through your lens....

    • bobnolley lm profile image

      bobnolley lm 

      6 years ago

      Well, I'm not a knitter, but I can congratulate you on the LOTD! A very creative...eye-opener! ;-)

    • jlshernandez profile image


      6 years ago

      This is amusing but makes a lot of sense. A well-deserved lens of the day indeed.

    • CrazyHomemaker profile image


      6 years ago

      Cool lens! I forgot about these. My chickens don't get sweaters. I have a nice coop and we can heat it in the winter, which is not too cold here. They are all pets and they gave eggs, so I treat them well. But sweaters are very helpful, as you mentioned. Congrats on LOTD.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is certainly a new one for me, but you're right. They do look cute.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My hen must have had stress when she lost a lot of her feathers. Then we saw the reason why. A snake came in to eat the eggs and got stuck in the mesh cage and died. It was covered over with straw and I did not see it. She grew back the feathers but I am sure she would have loved to have the sweater! Nice lens of the day! Congratulations Jennabee!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This one of the first lenses on Squidoo I read, such an interesting topic, and in line with what I enjoy. Congrats on Lens of the Day :)

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      6 years ago

      I prepared for a chuckle when I saw your title, but this is just a very cool idea and makes perfect sense for those poor little bald rescue chickens. And yes, pretty cute, too!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens! I enjoyed reading it. It is so sad the way factory-farm chickens are raised. That is why I am raising my own flock of hens naturally, and humanely in the great outdoors out in the country with a safe, warm henhouse, lots of good food, and a large property to roam. Thanks for sharing this information about the chicken sweaters with us. :)

    • floppypoppygift1 profile image


      6 years ago

      You're rad. That is all. Cheers~cb

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Congs on your LOTD, it is nice lens.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      I couldn't imagine why chickens need sweaters when first I saw the title, but now I understand. What a kindness the Little Hen Rescue people are providing. Thank you for sharing this.

    • lynnegirl1 profile image


      6 years ago

      My sister's chickens live in South Dakota in the winter, so this might come in handy for them. The past few years, they've spent most of the winter months in their heated henhouse (playing poker, I always imagine) while the snow is on the ground. Love your lens!

    • Diaper Bag Blog profile image

      Stanley Green 

      6 years ago from Czech Republic

      Wow! First time in my life I see something like this! We have chickens (about 50) but I can't imagine making a sweater for each of them :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great Idea cool

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      This is one of the most delightful lenses I've read in a while. I have to say it did give me a giggle reading this page, but also that compassion for chickens is a good thing and I applaud you for bringing this to the public's attention. All creatures are purposeful and deserve dignity and respect. This makes me want to learn to knit. :)

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Hurray for rescueing the chickens, but dressing them up in sweaters? No, because then they can't do what they do most of the time and that is cleaning up their feathers. Congrats on your LOTD, but sorry, I don't see any point in humanizing animals by dressing them up.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image


      6 years ago from British Columbia

      I have to be honest -- when I clicked on your title, I thought the lens was going to be about human sweaters with pictures of chickens on them, but I'm glad to see the sweaters are actually for chickens to wear. Much more tasteful, and fun to look at!

      Congrats on your Lens of the Day!

    • Lisa-Marie-Mary profile image


      6 years ago

      I love this idea, it's totally awesome. And they definitely do look super cute in their sweaters!

    • WriteMe3 profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank goodness for Little Hen Rescue.They do look adorable in sweaters. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Chickens are such cool critters. And for most of them, living conditions are deplorable. I wish everyone were more conscious of where their eggs and meat come from. Love the sweaters and what this organization is doing. Congrats on LofD

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      A very worthwhile thing to do. Well done on LotD!

    • shauna1934 profile image


      6 years ago

      Love this lens!! You opened my eyes to a whole new world!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is great and really helpful too. We have a few chickens and my sister previously designed a 'cape' for one of our balder chickens. This pattern will probably help in the future. Plus it brings awareness to others about how chickens are treated in factory farming. Great page and congrats on LoTD.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Congratulations on your LotD. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What a wonderful lens! And you are wonderful for having written it. I have a very soft spot in my heart for chickens. I don't have my own right now but I found a place with happy hens where I buy my eggs. I write about my hens on my "Change Your Aging..Start To Age Less" lens. I am so against the inhumane treatment of creatures kept in commercial food producing systems. I protest by not buying their products. Congratulations on LOTD. Thank you!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      6 years ago from Vermont

      I'd rather they had diapers ... but that's another story.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      wow congrats on your purple star and LOTD!! This is awesome lens and I had no idea, I'm very thankful to this rescue for allowing the hens to live out their retirement in a good place.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Love it!, I have a soft spot for chickens. I'll get my elderly mother to make some sweaters or perhaps I could sew together some of her many squares to put them to good use.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      oh so cute... that's one way to know jenny from penny...

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Oops, forgot my congratulations on your Lens of the Day!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Awww, so adorable and hope they will get the sweaters in need! Yes, James Herriot would approve!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      6 years ago from Concord VA

      Never heard of this, but it's a great idea! Congratulations on LotD!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is great. I never realized this happened to chickens. What a nice idea. Congratulations on lens of the day

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      6 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      This made me smile a lot. I never would have thought it! Well done on the LOTD and yes all animals do deserve to live in comfort!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      This was a wonderful way to begin my day. It puts a smile in your heart. Knowing that commercial chicken warehouses are a horrid place to live, why not become a chicken "wearhouse." It would certainly make me happy to knit a chicken a sweater. Thanks for a wonderfully unique and worthy cause. Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Lovely idea!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Good lens! I grew up around Roosters that chased me around. My Dad still has chickens today. I should this idea by him sometimes.

    • Bercton1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Very fashionable chicken sweaters. Very interesting and thoughtful lens!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens, enjoy it.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 

      6 years ago from Europe

      Excellent. I'll soon have finished knitting bobble hats for juice bottles, and this will take me through the giant bag of leftover wool I've inherited.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Well this is a first! Never heard of chickens wearing sweaters. Fun lens

    • profile image

      petepr lm 

      6 years ago

      More pics please.

      Need fashion show.

    • NatureFan LM profile image

      NatureFan LM 

      6 years ago

      This is hilarious and a magnificent cause! I love it.

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 

      7 years ago from Redcar

      This made me smile - what a wonderful idea.

    • JeffGilbert profile image


      7 years ago

      I have to say, I had no idea that chickens wore sweaters. Great lens, and one learns something new every day... :)

    • jennabee25 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jenn Dixon 

      7 years ago from PA

      @Loulie LM: Go for it! I hope your feathered friend gets better!

    • Loulie LM profile image

      Loulie LM 

      7 years ago

      I was happy to find this lens! We are in the process of adopting an injured Cockatiel. He has a bandage wrapped around him as his injury is on his back. Someone suggested that I look into sweater possibilities. I cannot find any out there, so I thought I would try to make one... I don't knit, but I am going to try to adapt the fleece pattern to fit a Cockatiel. Wish me luck!!! ;)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      How adorable. Poor chickens have such a rough life, what a great idea, getting us to make them sweaters.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Love the idea for sweaters for retired chickens, thanks for sharing!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      8 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Hand-crafted sweaters for chickens - very clever.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      8 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      How cute! I had never seen a chicken dressed in a sweater (or any other article of clothing). Love it!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very sweet and unique lens. This is the first time I'm seeing chickens in cute little sweaters!

    • profile image

      SydneyH LM 

      8 years ago

      I had no idea there were chickens who needed sweaters. Thanks for the information on the subject!


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