College students are trying their hand at knitting chicken sweaters.
While generally the rule of thumb is that you shouldn't put a sweater on a chicken, this situation is different. The twelve hens living at Reasheath College in Nantwich, England are bald and need the handmade sweaters to keep them warm.
The flock living at the college came from the British Hen Welfare Trust, who initially rescued the hens from a commercial egg-laying factory. The hens had never been outdoors and as a result, their feathers did not develop properly. While they are starting to grow new feathers, there are still patches of exposed chicken skin. The bald battery hens have trouble staying warm in cold weather so the students at the college decided to help.
So how does one help a bald rescue chicken stay warm? By knitting them a warm sweater.
The chickens seemed to like their new little chicken jumpers, and started showing off their true colors. The chicken's main keeper on the grounds, Lauren Lane, told Metro UK:
"The hens responded very quickly by showing natural behaviour such as perching and scratching the ground, and will hopefully go on to enjoy long and happy lives with us."
Communication officer for the British Hen Welfare Trust Francesca Taffs was thrilled to see the battery chickens in a better place than where they were found.
"We're delighted to see how well the hens have settled in at Reaseheath. It looks like they're being thoroughly spoilt which is the kind of life we want for all our ex-battery hens."
But the chicken experts agreed that even though they look cute, sweaters on chickens is normally a no-no. Taffs explained:
"We also think they look rather fetching in their jumpers! While the jumpers are not something we would generally recommend for re-homer use, it's clear these little ladies are being monitored and cared for closely. They've got a great free range life ahead of them!"
Sweaters on chickens can actually cause more harm than good. They can inhibit the chicken from taking dust baths, which is essential for their hygiene, while also providing breeding grounds for lice and mites by trapping moisture. Tiny sweaters also keep fully feathered chickens from monitoring their own body temperature. But these chickens seem to be closely monitored, and the cute sweaters provide more utility than just for fashion purposes.
It seems like the students at Reasheath College take animal care seriously. The college is nestled amongst more than 800 acres of farmland and supports rural businesses and communities.
Judging from their Facebook page, the students spend time with lots of different farm animals when they're not knitting cute little sweaters for bald chickens.
They give dogs baths,
and spend time with dairy cows.
Makes us want to go back to school!
What do you think about these students and their knit sweater initiative? Tell us in the comments below.
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