When it gets colder, the chickens start complaining. As warm weather creatures, they hate when it gets chilly.
It is especially hard on the birds previously used for egg production. They have been bred to lay 280-300 eggs a year, they should only lay 40-60. Laying eggs takes a toll on the bird's body, preventing them from laying down muscle and fat to keep them warm.
The barn here is large and spacious. This is wonderful for providing optimal space to a large number of chickens, but it makes keeping the barn warm difficult. Heaters would be ideal, but the risk of fire is too great. So we get creative - perch space is reduced so that birds have to use each other for warmth.
When we got an email from a knitting club in New Mexico, we were ecstatic. They offered to knit some sweaters for the birds. We said yes! When they arrived, we immediately headed to the barn.
First up, Big Red. She wears pink with style and class. An older hen, she appreciated the extra warmth this funky nylon blend offered.
Sunny is the only hen who really enjoyed the process and the sweater. She is from a small egg farm that used leg bands to identify the young flock.
The farm did not remove the leg bands, which embedded into the legs of the birds as they grew. Several birds lost one of their feet, including Sunny.
Sunny's breed is a high-producing brown layer. When she should be laying down healthy feathers, warm fat, and muscle, she is spending energy producing eggs. So she is skinny and has a hard time keeping warm.
After the sweater was put on, Sunny strutted around, very pleased.
When she started eating, we knew she loved the sweater.