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Do recovering ex-bats need to wear hen coats?

Our Rehoming Team often receive calls from pet hen owners asking if their newly rehomed ex-bats need to wear hen coats. 

While it’s wonderful to care so much for your hens that you want to protect them from the cold, the truth is hen coats are not only unnecessary, but they can also be dangerous too. 

You’d be surprised at how resilient these little birds are and, even if they have very few feathers in the midst of winter, they’ll cope just fine. 

Why aren’t hen coats a great idea? 

Here are some reasons why ex-battery hens don’t need to wear hen coats: 

  1. Hens are really clever little birds and can regulate their own temperature. In the colder winter months they eat more to increase their temperature and stay warm. Hen coats upset this natural process. 
  1. If your hens get caught out in the rain, their knitted coats can become wet and heavy and very uncomfortable if not removed immediately. 
  1. Hen coats can interfere with the natural re-growth process, causing damage to new feathers. These new emerging feathers are called pin feathers, and are very sensitive and will bleed if cut or injured. 
  1. Your new hens will soon start to explore their new surroundings, pecking around for bugs and creating new dust baths. If wearing a coat, your hen could get caught up on a tree or hedge branch during these adventures causing a great deal of discomfort and possible damage if they aren’t found quickly. 
  1. Dust bathing and preening are vital activities that keep parasites at bay, feathers in good working order and help your hens to stay healthy. If your hens cannot toss dirt into their feathers due to the restriction of the hen coat, they are in turn unable to maintain their own hygiene and health. 

How to encourage feather growth 

Most hens will soon feather up if given a cosy coop and a high-quality feed during the winter months – you’ll be amazed at how quickly they blossom. They usually start to re-feather within a few weeks and look amazing within a couple of months – they’ll be strutting their stuff before you know it! 

Here at Hen Central we regularly receive knitted jumpers to sell on our shop, lovingly knitted by kind supporters, but sadly as we do not promote the use of hen coats we are unable to use them.  

So, for those of our kind supporters with knitting talents, could we ask that you think about knitting egg cosies or small knitted toys instead, as these we can sell and they always go down very well. 

To find out more about caring for ex-battery hens, visit our caring for Newly Re-homed Hens page. 

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