Miranda McPherson, Craft Centre Supervisor at Monkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre explains, “We started a Knitting and Crochet Group here about a year ago and the knitters were knitting blankets for premature babies. When the hospital had enough, I had to find my knitters another project and by chance a customer brought in a knitting pattern for a hens jumper that she had seen on the Little Hen Rescue website. The knitters took up the challenge and it’s been a great success. We keep some of the jumpers here for people to buy locally and we donate the rest to the hens.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m much of a country person and certainly never held a hen before this project but after spending time with the rescued hens and fitting their jumpers my husband and I have agreed to adopt some when we retire and have them on the allotment.”
“In the short term, it has also ensured that we now buy free range eggs,” she adds. “It’s a small way in which a consumer can make a big difference. Whereas it’s wonderful that we can help the chickens by knitting jumpers, it would be better if their conditions changed so they didn’t need them.”
“The Knitting Club is a great way for people to socialise and swap other tips and too. You learn so much if you listen in, tips on everything from gardening to icing cakes.”
“It’s not only the hens that benefit; my knitters have to knit,” laughs Miranda, “it’s quite addictive and a current research project that shows knitting is effective as a therapy and even as a replacement for morphine as your attention is directed away issues like chronic pain and depression. It’s suitable for all ages too and our youngest knitter and Founding Member, Lucy, is only 10 years old. I think it’s becoming more trendy.” adds Miranda, “after all, it’s good for your health as well as the chickens.”
For the knitting pattern, pop into www.monktonelmgardencentre.co.uk or call 01823 412381. You can then either send your knitted jumpers to them or directly to the address on www.littlehenrescue.co.uk For information on adopting or sponsoring ex battery hens, contact the Battery Hen Welfare Trust at www.bhwt.com. To date the Charity has re-homed 192,156 hens.