It is our first winter with chickens, and already I've learned a lot. We insulated the coop with thick plastic sheeting, and built a water heater that would make MacGyver proud. (According to my research, dehydration is the leading cause of backyard chicken mortality.)
Mingo, our smallest chicken, has already been through some rough winters; she lost several toes to frostbite in up-state New York, where she was a homeless beggar-bird. A few weeks ago, she started molting, and watching her go bald in the blustery cold was more than I could bear. On the advice of several chicken-health blogs, I busted out the ol' knitting needles and made a her tiny chicken sweater. The result was adorable.
I am a "jazz knitter" so I make up my pattern as I go. Mingo's sweater was based on this idea >>
In case you ever get a mad hair to make a chicken sweater of your own, I will share some tips:
1. Don't use super-bulky yarn. If your chicken is as minuscule as Ms. Mingo, she will not be able to walk too well under the weight of "so much" yarn. She also couldn't fold her wings down flat, which is why I decided that she should not actually wear the sweater outside after all.
2. Use safety pins instead of velcro or button-closures. Who has velcro lying around? And buttons are more likely to fall off/get eaten up by the birds.
3. Have a good camera ready. You're gonna wanna document this.
I am happy to report that Mingo the tiny chicken is over the hump. She has really perked up since her feathers have been coming back in.