This spring chicken is ready for her close-up.

Credit: Cristina Quinn/WGBH News

Hot Chicks: Keeping Chickens Warm With A Favorite Winter Garment

March 2, 2017

What happens when the chicken across the road is cold? You ask your neighbors in Milton to knit him a sweater. That's exactly what Erica Max, program director of the Wakefield Estate, did, when she noticed that Prince Peep, a Malaysian Serama rooster, started shivering when the temperature dropped.

I discovered that Serama roosters, you know, normally would live very close to the equator, and they are not well suited to this climate, in New England.” Max said.

So Max called up Nancy Kearns, who lives at Fuller Village, a retirement community across the street, and asked her if she and her knitting group could help Prince Peep.

I said, let's give it a try,” Kearns said. “So I went online. There's a very wonderful site called Pinterest. I just typed in the words "chicken sweater," and I found a pattern from England.”

Click on the audio player to hear the radio version of this story.

 

These ladies do a lot of knitting for charities like Project Linus, a nationwide organization that donates homemade blankets to sick children, so knitting for chickens was a departure for them — and it came with a lot of trial and error.

Because the pattern really was for big chickens,” said Kearns. “And Prince Peep, in particular, is a miniature.”

Weighing in at roughly one pound, he’s certainly diminutive. But what didn’t fit Prince Peep looked tailor-made for the larger hens. And it worked out perfectly since many of them were molting, making them more vulnerable to the elements.

On this particular day, Erica Max couldn’t find Prince Peep’s sweater — it’s so tiny that it’s easy to misplace — so we found another easygoing chicken to try one on. As it turns out, putting a sweater on a chicken is a two-person job. Fortunately, the lovely white hen worked with us as we pulled a rainbow-colored sweater vest over her head and fastened it under her wings.

After we laid her down onto the ground, she moseyed on over to the other chickens hanging outside the coop. No one batted an eye. As the saying goes, birds of a sweater…


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