Why Your Chicken Doesn’t Need a Stupid Sweater

Why’d the chicken cross the road?  Because its lunatic owner was trying to force it into a f&*$@ng cardigan. Before you force your chickens head through a mock turtleneck, learn why your chicken doesn’t need to wear a sweater.  

Three chickens in a row sitting on a dowel, each wearing a primary coloured sweater.

There’s a reason The Gap only has Gap Kids and not Gap Chickens.  There’s no need to put a sweater on a chicken and here’s why.

  1. Chickens aren’t people.
  2. Chickens aren’t dogs.
  3. Chickens aren’t toilet paper rolls.
  4. Chickens aren’t tea pots.
  5. Chickens are covered in that stuff your really expensive winter coat and duvet are made of.
  6. Chickens think you have bad taste.
  7. Chickens have dignity. Except when eating their own poop.
  8. Chickens are bullies. And cannibals.
  9. Re: #8, If a chicken bullies another chicken for wearing a sweater they won’t just laugh at them or trip them behind the chicken run.  They’ll eat their face off.
  10. Chickens need their faces.

As it stands, at this very moment, I’m down to two chickens. Mable and Josephine, a crotchety pair of half-sister spinsters who spend their days passing judgement on anyone who walks by them. I’m kind of waiting for these two to gently pass away in the night before I get a whole new batch of chickens.

They’re both turning 7 this year. Why are they living so long? Because I don’t humanize them. I mean other than when I kiss them and ask them if they had a good sleep.  Instead of treating them as if they’re humans I do something even BETTER.  I treat them like chickens. 

Yes they’re pet chickens, but they’re still chickens. 

For the past decade the only thing that’s been more popular than calligraphy or Instant Pot recipes on Pinterest …   are chicken sweaters.  Every week at this time of year I get at least one Tweet, Facebook post or email about a chicken sweater.  Mostly from people who don’t have chickens.  

These are the people who are fascinated by and love chicken sweaters, mainly because they don’t completely understand a few things about chickens.  Like the fact that if you gathered up 6 chickens  and sewed them together they’d be a duvet.

Chickens don’t need knit sweaters to stay warm. Do NOT.


Chickens romping in the snow wearing knit capes.

I understand a chicken in a knit cape is kindda pretty.  So let’s get that out of the way.


White silkie chicken wearing a brown and red knit vest.

A Silkie in a vest? Yeah, kindda cute in an Emo way.

Chicken in a multicoloured, knit sweater-vest.

This is not where I disagree with you. I think they look cute. Chickens seem to have an innate ability to appear distinguished even while wearing something that would look humiliating on any other bird.



A white chicken stands on a bale of straw wearing a yellow knit jumper with a matching floppy hat.

Matching hats on the other hand? Not even a chicken can give that look any dignity. Seriously. If this gal had opposable thumbs she would use them to pop her owner’s eyes out.

A grey knit chicken sweater with lace embellishment.

(note: I didn’t link to any photo sources because my point isn’t to call out anyone who makes or sells chicken sweaters … it’s to let the world know a chicken doesn’t need a sweater)

Should chickens wear sweaters?

NO!  So what’s the number one, actual reason you shouldn’t put a sweater on a chicken?  

A sweater will make a chicken colder.

Chickens are kind of geniuses at regulating their own body temperature.  Their temperatures can go from 105 F to 109 F depending on what they need any given day.  When it’s cold out they instinctively eat more which, through digestion, raises their temperature.  They shiver, huddle and most importantly fluff out their feathers when they’re cold.

Fluffing their feathers is the most effective thing a chicken can do to keep itself warm.  They puff up all their feathers and down to create a big duvet of insulation around them.


Blue Copper Marans with her feathers fluffed up on her body and head to keep her warm at night.

She wasn’t terribly cold, but you can see Mabel’s feathers fluffed up a bit as she gets ready to hunker down for bed tonight.  You can especially see it in the feathers on her head.

Putting a sweater on them stops them from being able to do that.  So no matter how cold they are or how hard they try, they can’t puff their feathers out which are restricted by the stupid sweater.

Chickens also produce more moisture through their skin when they’re trying to raise their body temperature.  If you add a sweater to that chicken, the moisture gets stuck between the sweater and the chicken and yet again, makes the chicken colder.

As far as battery chickens, which seems to be where this rage started, they have no need for sweaters either. Battery chickens are the ones that come from battery cages and have often lost their feathers.  

They’re miserable, sad, little creatures that sometimes have their feathers plucked out by themselves and other birds.  This results in a naked little chicken.  Once they’re adopted into a hen rescue, the owner of the naked chicken wants to give this little abused hen the absolute best life they possibly can from now on. So they shove the already indignant hen into a knit sweater. 

Which the chicken hates.

Once a chicken loses its feathers due to a moult or trauma it will almost immediately start feathering out again, which can be a painful process.  

  • Having a knit or even hand crocheted sweater on it during this time will only irritate and hurt the chicken’s little pin feathers.  If you happen to come across a completely bald chicken in the middle of a winter snow storm you’d be better off bringing it into a mudroom or something similar.  Nowhere that’s actually hot, just less cold than the winter storm.
  • Chickens also have a surprisingly difficult time taking their sweaters off when they want to have a bath.
  • Even in the winter chickens keep themselves clean from mites and other pests with dust baths. If you provide them with a dust bath in their coop they’ll use that, if not, they’ll scratch and burrow into their bedding.  They can’t effectively do either of those things while wearing a turtleneck.

Neither could you.

And THAT is why chickens don’t need a sweater.

If you want to keep your chickens warm in winter read my guide on How to Winterize a Chicken Coop.

If you want to read about why I’m one of the few people NOT looking for Instant Pot recipes on Pinterest, read this. 

If you’re still not convinced that you shouldn’t put your chicken in a sweater do me a favour – get a notepad, go outside and start tallying how many frozen blocks of sparrows you see dropping from the sky.  And how many of them out and about are wearing an argyle jumper.

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Why Your Chicken Doesn\'t Need a Stupid Sweater


  1. Jenny W says:

    I get easily sidetracked:
    Don’t put chickens in sweaters
    Put them in your mudroom
    Karen has a mudroom
    What does Karen’s mudroom look like?
    Are there sweaters in there?
    Can we see your mudroom?
    New post idea, for mudroom decor/organization/renovation or a chilly chicken photo shoot :)

    • Karen says:

      Wow! LOL. ~ karen!

      • Dale says:

        So this is when we “Show me your mudroom and I’ll show you mine” ?!?
        What if we don’t have a mudroom?
        Are we left out of the world of the elitism of mudroom snobs?
        Where can I find plans to make my own mudroom?

  2. Sherry in Alaska says:

    Since I saw my first chicken sweater, I’ve thought they were incredibly stupid. I’ve thought of all the reasons you list AND: Have they ever considered how nasty, filthy, gross that cute little sweater will be by the end of one day of being sported by a chicken who lives any kind of chicken life?! Are they going to provide the hens with laundry facilities? Maybe a laundry service? Good Grief!
    I cannot imagine anyone cruel enough to actually think a chicken should dress like a human.

    Thank you for enumerating the real reasons these stupid things are actually harmful! I hope you’ve rocked their world.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Why do I get the impression that chicken sweaters / chickens wearing sweaters really ticks you off?
    I have just had such a good laugh – at your post and the comments too! You have made my day! Thank you. (Again!)

  4. Marna says:

    I think the whole thing is so funny! I know that people do have exotic parrots that do where the sweaters because they pulled out their feathers, but I don’t think the feathers always grow back on them. I could see it for that, but for chickens? I saw the post about the shop, it does say nothing found. I clicked several things and all said not found.

  5. Sande says:

    Just an FYI, I think something might be going on with the SHOP section – could be it’s unique to me or just temporary or not a concern but thought I’d mention it.
    When I hit the SHOP tab, this is what I saw and it showed ” no product found” for all the categories.


    No products were found matching your selection.

    • Karen says:

      HI Sande! No, it’s not just you, lol. When I had my site redesigned I wanted to make sure there was a shop section for a few of my favourite things and the workshops I give and live online courses. I just haven’t had time to get it all organized yet. ~ karen!

  6. LuAnn says:

    I personally would NEVER put any animals into sweaters that they haven’t picked out for themselves.
    Having said that… I do believe the first two ladies looked quite fetching in their lovely, autumn-toned shawls!

  7. Melissa says:

    If that chicken in the yellow sweater and hat had opposable thumbs, she’d probably have fingers as well, and she’d flip her owner the bird.

  8. Nancy Wilder says:

    thanks for the crack up…and the heads up as to why exactly chickens don’t need sweaters! Those photos, oh my I’ll be giggling all night!

  9. Fiona says:

    They’re doing it to bloody penguins too!


    • Ruth says:

      Penguins? Penguins? Sigh.

      • Dale says:

        With all this global warming going on, why will penguins need sweaters? Maybe a portable A/C unit!!

    • mooninfog says:

      Well, no. As the article explains, these little sweaters are short-term emergency protection for penguins damaged by oil spills, until they can be cleaned. So many people wanted to help out, they ended up with way too many.

  10. MidsChris SA says:

    That yellow one with the hat – nogal (Afrikaans for “as well”) nearly killed me!!

    Nooooooo man, how can you embarrass the poor thing like that (whomever it’s owner is).

  11. Alisa says:

    I seriously doubt if people make their chickens wear sweaters to keep warm. More like, just long enough for a photo. That’s how long mine wore her knitted hat.

    • Karen says:

      That’s what they *should* be used for but people are definitely putting them on their chickens (especially ones without feathers) thinking it’s helping them. ~ karen!

  12. Karen Too says:

    Another case of being dumb to kind animals… but I am smiling here…

  13. Christy says:

    Why did the chicken commit suicide?
    To get to the other side.

  14. Something else for me to worry about just before I go to bed. Even mild discomfort being caused to animals from well-meaning, but stupid, people drives me insane.

    • Kim says:

      Ha! I thought I was the only one now suddenly up concerned and feeling terrible for all those poor sweater wearing chickens!

      Well. We can hope their humans read this!

  15. Anna-Karin Hallström says:

    THANK YOU!! This been driving me bonkers for quite some time. As I have chickens, people loooove to post links on my FB page of chickens in sweaters. And I try to tell them in the nicest possible way, that my chickens don’t need sweaters. They already have a down jacket on for crying out loud. Sheeesh….

  16. Annie1946 says:

    Boggles the mind, seeing a bunch of chickens running around in sweaters. We’re getting sillier all the time.

  17. Laura Bee says:

    Prime example of entertaining & interesting!
    But have you ever seen a hamster in a sweater? http://cuteoverload.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/tumblr_mzx4g2pd9g1roq7h8o1_500.jpg?w=560&h=500
    hope I did that right…

  18. Becky says:

    I think the insanity started by people make chicken “saddles” which is to protect a hen from the spurs of an amorous rooster, and it progressed from there.
    As a chicken Mama myself, I have been sent a picture of a chicken in a sweater no less than once a week for the last three years, so I totally understand why you feel the need to post this. Its silly and quite frankly ridiculous—- AND if you do have a rooster, and put a sweater on your hen it can be dangerous for both of them because his spurs can get stuck in the sweater. Its a horrible idea perpetuated by people with a definite lack of common sense.

  19. whitequeen96 says:

    I can’t believe this is really a thing, but I looked it up on ebay and they actually exist! And most of them are for sale for $20 each! Wow – the world is just full of opportunity for those who know where to look. Think of all those chickens out there without sweaters!

    • whitequeen96 says:

      And a lot of them have actually been purchased! Out of 75 completed listings since 12/02/15, approximately 70 of them were sold! There’s a 3 pack that sold last week for $46 US + $3.25 shipping! Amazing!

  20. catt says:

    How about denim jackets? Kidding.

  21. Melanie says:

    I just want you to know that if I had chickens (which I don’t) I would never knit them sweaters. And not just because I don’t know how to knit.

    I am so, so sorry about Cuddles. I know you loved her very much.

  22. Abby's Mom says:

    I kept thinking the next picture would a chicken wearing a KFC sweater…

  23. Pam says:

    Clearly I don’t spend enough time on Pinterest as I’d never heard of chicken sweaters. What is wrong with people that they think this is a good idea?

    • christine waslh says:

      people are stupid,,,that’s the problem. they think that animals have the same physical needs. they dont think and they don’t understand how feathers work

  24. Jan in Waterdown says:

    The gals in those pics look either completely embarrassed or completely pissed off . . . it’s hard to tell with a chicken.
    And on a completely different note, YAY I’m the first post o’ the day! Yippee. Night night.

  25. Paula says:

    I started laughing as soon as I read the title! haha

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