LONDON — While many of us are hunkering down for the winter and investing in some heavy knits to see us through the chilly climes, spare a thought for our poor feathered friends.
Battery hens, which have spent most if not all of their lives in cages to maximize laying eggs, have trouble acclimatising to normal outdoor conditions once they are released. (Their name comes from the rows and rows of connected cages that share dividing walls, just like the cells in a battery.) The hens' lack of feathers might not be a problem during the warmer summer months, but when temperatures begin to plummet, the chill sets in.
Nicola Congdon, a 25-year-old from Falmouth in Cornwall, England, came up with an adorably genius substitute about six months ago: knitting woolly jumpers to help keep her chickens warm this winter. She has about 60 chickens, but 30 of them are former battery hens. (The others are free-range and have been all their lives.)
"It's important to make people aware of the poor conditions the hens live in and the fact that they have no feathers when they are retired," Congdon told Mashable. "The tank tops are also something really different that provide some fun for the chickens. They keep them warm and makes the chickens easy to identify."
Nicola and her mum, Ann, are now receiving special requests for jumpers from hen-keepers near and far. Instead of selling the tank tops for profit, she said the money goes to an AIDS orphanage in South Africa.
Here's hoping they knit some matching human-sized jumpers, too.
Related: Baby goats get cozy in their adorable sweaters: