Every winter, this image or one similar to it shows up on my Facebook feed. Inevitably, someone will tag me in it because they know I have chickens and that I love my chickens.
Now, I will tell you that because I love my chickens, I will never, never, never ever put a sweater on them.
They look cute, yes, but in reality, they are very bad for chickens.
First of all, chickens do not need sweaters to keep warm. They have their own downy fluff and feathers to hep regulate their body temperature and keep them warm in the winter.
(Which by the way, is also why they don’t need a heated coop, either. )
Secondly, sweaters trap moisture and dirt inside, and provide an excellent home for parasites such as lice and mites. Lice and mites are very bad for our chickens.
Third, sweaters can break pin feathers. Pin feathers are the delicate, vein filled feathers on your chickens. If broken, they will bleed. If you don’t catch it and stop the bleeding, your chicken can actually die(worst case).
In the winter, when most well-meaning, but ill-informed people think chickens need sweaters, chickens are molting, and those pin feathers are very prominent with the growth of new sweaters.
Which leads to the Fourth… sweaters on chickens will actually impede the growth of new feathers.
Fifth… sweaters leaves chickens vulnerable to predator attacks (because a hawk or bigger bird can grab up a sweater and carry off your favorite bird) and accidental mating injuries (think talons caught in the knitting). Not to mention getting caught on chicken wire and branches and stuff around your coop and foraging areas.
Lastly, sweaters prevent your chickens from dust bathing and preening, which is how they keep clean.