Home an ex-battery hen this Christmas … or knit them a jumper!

Last week whilst tweeting, I came across an appeal from the British Hen Welfare Trust, via Hen from heartandsoil.blogspot.com, my twitter bud, Shellybobbins and ACID, calling for homes across the UK to consider rescuing a battery hen.

From January 2012, the barren ‘battery’ cage will be abolished in the UK in line with the EU directive and as a result, hens will have to be removed from their barren cages by 31st December. Most British egg farmers have already made the switch to enriched cages, but a further 2-4 million hens currently in barren cages will still be heading for slaughter this Christmas.

To help highlight the BHWT’s appeal and to show people how they can rescue these hens, I’ve written a full article for At Home which you can see here. You can also get in touch with the BHWT via there website www.bhwt.org.uk.

I am very excited to announce that I have now registered with the BHWT and am planning to home a couple of hens very soon to join my spoilt ladies, Billy Bob and Scratchy. I’ll be keeping you updated on this as it happens.

But what if you can’t home a hen, how else can you help?

Here’s Hen from heartandsoil.blogspot.com to explain how else you can make a difference, including knitting hen jumpers*, yes, you read that right!

1) Spread the word about this UK WIDE MASS BATTERY HEN RESCUE! Tell everyone, tell your dentist, your mum, your Twitter and Facebook friends! There’s no time to lose!

2) Sponsor a hen! Visit the Battery Hen Welfare Trust and you’ll see you can sponsor a hen!

3) Make a jumper! These mass rescues are happening at the beginning of winter and it’s going to be a cold one, there are going to be plenty of cold, baldy hens. Lets get a jumper on ‘em!

Below are two patterns for Baldy Battery Hen Jumpers. If you can’t knit or don’t have much time, you could give the Easy Peasy Fleecy Jumpers a go!

When you’ve made your jumpers get in touch with the Battery Hen Welfare Trust to find out where to send them.

Easy Peasy Fleecy Battery Hen Jumpers:
Design from Little Hens Rescue

Dig out that old fleece jumper from the back of your cupboard or go to the charity shop & buy a couple of fleecy jumpers for a few quid. Then follow the Little Hens Rescue pattern below to make the Easy Peasy Fleecy Jumper for a Baldy Hen!

Baldy Battery Hen Jumper Knitting Patterns:
This’ is Nanny Norths’ Version and has an easier neck section
Taken from: www.hencam.co.uk/hencam_forum


Double knitting yarn (100g makes approximately 3 jumpers). 2 buttons each jumper
1 pair No 8 (4mm) knitting needles 4mm crochet hook
Jumper knitted in stocking stitch with garter stitch borders
Cast on 41 sts.
Knit 4 rows straight.
Tabs and button holes.

1/ cast on 10sts @ beginning of row. K14. P to last 4 sts. K4.
2/ cast on 10sts @ beginning of row. K to end
3/ (K2. yf. K2tog) 3 times. K2. P33. K14.
4/ (K2, yf. K2tog) 3 times. K to end.
5/ Cast off 10sts. K3. P33. K14.
6/ Cast off 10sts.K3. K2tog. K to last 6 sts K2tog. K4.

Dec. 1 st at each end on every following 6th row until 25 sts remain, keeping edges in garter stitch.
Divide for neck.
Work 11 sts. cast off 3 sts work to end and complete this half first.
1/ K to end
2/ P1. P2tog twice P2. K4.
3/ K to end
4/ P1. P2tog. P2. K4.
5/ K4. K2tog. K2.
Work next 4 rows straight.
10/ P2. Inc in next st. K4.
11/ K6. Inc in next st. K1.
12/ P1. Inc in next 2sts P2. K4.
13/ K to end.
14/ p7. K4.
Put these 11 sts onto holding pin.
Break yarn and rejoin to other side of neck.
Work to match, reversing shapings and ending at wing hole edge. Thats row 13.
Next row K4. P7. Cast on 3sts then from the sts on holding pin P7.K4.
Now K4. Inc into next st. K to last 5sts. Inc in next st. K4

Inc 1 st at each end of following 6th row until there are 41sts on needle.
Work 6 rows keeping to pattern
Knit 4 rows.
Cast off.
Sew on buttons. Work 1 row double crochet round neck edge if desired.

Different Version
(can be found on Lucky Hens Rescue Wigan & Little Hens Rescue sites):

Pattern for Knitted Jumpers/Jackets.
Double knitting yarn (100g makes approximately 3 jumpers)
2 buttons or 10cm Velcro
1 pair of number 8 (4mm) knitting needles
4mm crochet hook

Knitted in stocking stitch with garter stitch borders

Cast on 41 sts,
Work 4 rows K
Increase for tabs;
Cast on 10 sts at beginning of next row, k14, p to last 4 sts, k4.
Cast on 10 sts at beginning of next row, k14, p to last 14sts, k14.
Work buttonholes; (work these 2 rows straight if using Velcro).

(K2, yf k2tog) 3 times, work to end keeping edges in garter st.
Repeat this row for buttonholes on the other tab.
Cast off 10 sts at beginning of next row.
Next row – cast off 10 sts, k4, p2 tog, p to last 6 sts, p2tog, k4.
Dec 1 st at each end on every fol 6th row until 25 sts remain.

Divide for neck;
Work 11 sts, cast off 3, work to end – complete this half first.
1) k4, p to end
2) cast off 2, k to end
3) k4, p to end
4) k2tog, k to end
5) k4, p2tog, p to end
Work 4 rows straight
10) K to last 5 sts, inc in next st, k4.
11) K4, p to last st, inc in next st.
12) Cast on 2 sts, k to end, (11sts)
13) K4, p to end
14) K

Break yarn and rejoin to the other side of neck.
Work to match, reversing shaping’s and ending at winghole edge.
Next row – k, cast on 3, k across sts from other side of neck.
Next row , k4 inc in next st, p to last 5 sts, inc in next st, k4.
Inc 1 st at each end of every fol 6th row until there are 41 sts on the needle.
Work 6 rows straight.
Change to gst and knit 4 rows.
Cast off.

Sew on buttons or Velcro as desired.
Work double crochet around neck.

Here’s a list of just some of the rescue charities:
Battery Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT)
Little Hens Rescue
Lucky Hens Rescue Wigan

photos courtesy of:



*PLEASE NOTE, since publishing this article, it has been brought to my attention that BHWT warn against putting rescue chickens in knitted jumpers as they can make them more nervous. As any rescuer of these lovely ex-battery hens will tell you, they are nervous enough, so it’s important not to add to their distress.

Related posts:


Add your Biographical Info and they will appear here.


Hello lovely

What a great way of keeping these gorgeous little hens warm !! A huge thank you for the mention !! Really appreciate it very much, keep sending me the link for retweeting it’s a fabulous cause !

Love Shellybobbins xxxx


Thank you Shelly, it’s down to you and Acid that I saw the appeal and I’m so glad I did. I can’t wait to get my ex-batteries to their new home. :)


Hi there

Thanks for this blog. I found it by searching for knitting patterns for battery hens as one of mine is seriously moulting and we have 3 inches of snow and ice here. I followed the link to the BHWT and registered for some ex batts which I am collecting on Saturday. However the lady there told me that they do NOT recommend these knitted jackets. Apparently they can make the hen quite nervy, particularly f they get their feet etc caught in them and even ex batts do not need them. As long as they have plenty of bedding to keep them warm. Feeding corn in the afternoon helps to increase their body temperature too.


Hi Jo, Thanks you for your feedback. Firstly, it’s great to hear that you are getting more ex-batteries, an early Christmas present for all concerned! Secondly, thank you for passing on BHWT’s advice, it would seem there’s a difference of opinion out there on knitted jackets, but as they are the experts in ex-batteries, it’s important we pass on their advice. Finally, it’d be great to see some photos of your newcomers, please feel free to post them on my Facebook page here. http://www.facebook.com/QueenofEasyGreen Thanks again.

susie parks

Hi, congratulations on all your hard work. You have a big heart. Do you still need knitted vests for hens? I am rather behind – like 2 years! – but am keen to knit vests if it will help.



Hi Susie – thanks for you lovely comments. With regards to knitted vests, since publishing the article the BHWT have warned against putting chickens in knitted jumpers, as it can make them more nervous. I’ve put this update note at the end of my post. With regard to rescuing battery hens, this is an ongoing process and lots of info can be found on the fabulous BHWT site – here’s a link. As an ex-battery chicken owner myself, I couldn’t recommend homing these hens highly enough. :)


Hi Jean, thank you for getting in touch. In answer to your question, since I wrote the original article the British Hen Welfare Trust has warned against putting rescue chickens in knitted jumpers as they can make them more nervous. However, if you are a keen knitter and would like to knit for charity, take a look at this page from the UK Hand Knitting Association, here they list lots of charities who are looking for knitters like you. Let me know how you get on


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *