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4 Reasons to Knit Chicken Sweaters

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

Chickens that are no longer commercially useful need sweaters to stay warm after long and productive lives of egg-laying.

Chickens that are no longer commercially useful need sweaters to stay warm after long and productive lives of egg-laying.

Keeping Hens Comfortable

I know it sounds bizarre, but, yes, chickens can wear sweaters. You may ask why. 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, 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, four reasons to knit chicken sweaters.

1. It's a Free Pattern

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


  • Double knitting yarn (100 g makes approximately three jumpers)
  • Two buttons or 10 cm Velcro
  • 1 pair of number 8 (4 mm) knitting needles
  • 4 mm 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 the neck.
Sewing pattern for chicken sweaters.

Sewing pattern for chicken sweaters.

2. You Can Make Chicken Sweaters If You Sew

Yup, above is the pattern for making a chicken sweater out of fleece. Fleece is soft and warm for hens. Just use the template pictured above to keep a hen cozy!

3. Anyone Can Donate

Just because you don't knit or sew, you can also donate money to Little Hen Rescue directly through PayPal and Google Checkout on their website. 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.

4. Give a Hen a Comfortable Retirement

These animals have given their lives to feed 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.

Where to Send Sweaters and Donations

You can send your sweaters and donations to:

  • Little Hen Rescue
  • The Stables
  • Greenways
  • Norwich
  • NR15 1QL
  • United Kingdom

International shipping rates do apply.

Aren't these chickens adorable in their sweaters?

Aren't these chickens adorable in their sweaters?

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments Welcome!

Elijah on November 29, 2018:

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 on February 20, 2014:

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

Lynda Makara from California on February 12, 2014:

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

sierradawn lm on December 27, 2013:

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

SteveKaye on December 16, 2013:

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.

anonymous on December 15, 2013:

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 on December 12, 2013:

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

Giovanna from UK on November 26, 2013:

I forgot to add - poor chickens!

Giovanna from UK on November 26, 2013:

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 on November 17, 2013:

Congrats on LOTD and this is a great idea.

kolin36 on November 06, 2013:

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

Rose Jones on October 24, 2013:

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 on October 20, 2013:

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

mahatav on October 20, 2013:

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

JeffGilbert on October 17, 2013:

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 on October 16, 2013:


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

Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on October 16, 2013:

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

Delia on October 16, 2013:

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

Michelllle on October 15, 2013:

Cute sweaters!

samsmom7 on October 15, 2013:

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

PriyabrataSingh on October 15, 2013:

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 on October 15, 2013:

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

jlshernandez on October 15, 2013:

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

CrazyHomemaker on October 15, 2013:

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.

Fay Favored from USA on October 15, 2013:

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

Ibidii on October 15, 2013:

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!

TheCozyDinosaur on October 15, 2013:

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 on October 15, 2013:

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!

siskiyoucowgirl on October 15, 2013:

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 on October 15, 2013:

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

KathyZ1 on October 15, 2013:

Congs on your LOTD, it is nice lens.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on October 15, 2013:

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 on October 15, 2013:

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!

Stanley Green from Czech Republic on October 15, 2013:

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 :)

milky-way-35977 on October 15, 2013:

Great Idea cool

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on October 15, 2013:

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 Geertman from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on October 15, 2013:

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.

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on October 15, 2013:

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 on October 15, 2013:

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

WriteMe3 on October 15, 2013:

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

DebMartin on October 15, 2013:

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

LaidBackGuy on October 15, 2013:

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

shauna1934 on October 15, 2013:

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

DreyaB on October 15, 2013:

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.

soaringsis on October 15, 2013:

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

changrcoacher on October 15, 2013:

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 from Vermont on October 15, 2013:

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

anonymous on October 15, 2013:

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.

anonymous on October 15, 2013:

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.

anonymous on October 15, 2013:

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

anonymous on October 15, 2013:

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

anonymous on October 15, 2013:

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

Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on October 15, 2013:

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

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on October 15, 2013:

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

Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on October 15, 2013:

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!

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on October 15, 2013:

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!

tobydavis on October 15, 2013:

Lovely idea!

rainmaker2013 on October 15, 2013:

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 on October 15, 2013:

Very fashionable chicken sweaters. Very interesting and thoughtful lens!

KathyZ1 on October 15, 2013:

Great lens, enjoy it.

Erin Mellor from Europe on October 15, 2013:

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.

Angela F from Seattle, WA on October 15, 2013:

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

petepr lm on October 14, 2013:

More pics please.

Need fashion show.

NatureFan LM on October 14, 2013:

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

Ben Reed from Redcar on May 19, 2013:

This made me smile - what a wonderful idea.

JeffGilbert on March 23, 2013:

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

Jenn Dixon (author) from PA on March 21, 2013:

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

Loulie LM on January 02, 2013:

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!!! ;)

anonymous on September 12, 2012:

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

anonymous on April 20, 2012:

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

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on March 19, 2012:

Hand-crafted sweaters for chickens - very clever.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on March 11, 2012:

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

Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on December 16, 2011:

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

SydneyH LM on November 03, 2011:

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