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Chicken Saddles - Worth it just for the pictures!

 
gardener
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Hey everyone!

It's spring here in B.C. and I have couple ladies that are looking rather ragged. It's not moulting season? They are missing feathers on their lower back, between their shoulders, and on the tops to prevent pecking of their wings. I've been pulling out all the stops but that didn't seem to be the issue.

Oh Dear! What is the issue?

Over mating!

Apparently this can be an issue if you don't have a good hen to rooster ratio; however, mine is 39:1 so I'm assume favouritism is the issue.

So what is the solution? The internet tells me Chicken Saddles / Hen Aprons

I've provided images for your amusement, I hope they make your day like they did mine!:








It appears that my rooster has a couple favourites. He's pretty gentle for a rooster, but he is a big animal! Looks like he's enjoying himself a little too much.

Here is the unfortunate Lass and the Prime Suspect:



Looks like there are some patterns floating around the Web:




I'm going to give this crochet one a try tonight: Life Alaska Style : DIY Corchet Hen Saddle
I'll also attempt a fleece one with elastics if I have enough time tonight.

Questions for Permies:

- Have you had this issue before? What did you do?
- Does anyone have a Chicken Saddle pattern they would like to share?
- What do you think of hen saddles in relation to Permaculture philosophy?

Thank you for sharing any thought or experiences! I will update you with my progress and hopefully a much happier hen!


 
pollinator
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I'd like to add to the list of questions: How do you convince the hen to accept the saddle?

I have one that tends to get picked on a little too much. I bought a chicken saddle just for her, and I got it on her and made sure it was fitting right. But as soon as I let her go she freaked out completely! And the rest of the flock freaked out too, flying into the sides of the run so hard they hurt themselves! I had to catch her and get it back off before they hurt themselves even worse. How do you make that not happen?
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Okay, so I attempted to crochet a saddle.

Attempt #1





And.... it went poorly. Ellendra I had the same issue as you. She freaked out and bolted. My rooster freaked out and they all ran away from her. I thought it was because of the color so I made attempt #2.

Attempt #2 - New colour and I modified the pattern. Fits more snuggly. I modified it twice more after trying it on to get the tension right around the wing.



Poor photo but it was getting late:



The second one fits way better. I think also putting it on at night she was more calm. She just went back on he perch no problem.

I will update you tomorrow morning! If it's a success I will make more and perfect the pattern a bit more! Maybe flaps to cover her damaged wings.
 
pollinator
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What this thread needs is a video, good thing Patara at "Appalachia's Homestead with Patara" did a video about this recently

 
Ashley Cottonwood
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Update:

I started off this morning by filing down Romeo's talons. I didn't take much off I just rounded them. His outside ones where super sharp. He tried to attack me this morning; my response is to snuggle him usually so I thought I might as well bring him in for a pedicure. He has his spurs still but they are naturally blunt not razor sharp. He just bruises you with them.



This morning I crocheted 2 more saddles in black. I made the wing whole two different sizes for the two different chickens.









Blackie from last night seems to not mind the saddle at all. She doesn't seem to care about it. Little red seems a bit fussed about it and Romeo is suspicious of how she seemed to turn half black over night. They young Goldilocks ... does not like hers. She's been running around and has it flipped up. I'm going to check if she's calmed down, if not, I'll remove it and try putting it on at night. She's not too bad, but I would like her little bald patch to recover. She's one of my best layers and super smart and dam near impossible to catch!

Again, I'll update you for how it goes. At least Blackie, who by far was the worst off, seems happy.



 
pollinator
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Basically you can tell how high a hen's sex drive is by how barren her back and scalp are  There are always a couple hens in the flock that stay with their favorite rooster and pester him for favors all day long.  Then there are the hens who stay FFFAAAAARRRR away because, well, they're just not that into it.  I'd blame the hens before you blame the rooster in the case of your 39:1 flock  It's a different story with "too many roosters", of course, but that's not the case here!

Now those happy hens have some lovely chicken lingerie... xD
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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So update on the chicken saddle pursuits...

I learned that a crochet saddle is not the best solution. Blackie got her's caught on a nail and ripped it off, but I'm worried what might of happened to her if she got stuck. Red hated hers and would try and rip it off resulting in the getting herself stuck on her saddle:


So after this incident I removed the saddles...

So I made new saddles using flannel and stretchy bands.

My Materials:


Measuring out the saddles:



After a sewed on the wing bands I wanted to figure out how to weigh it down to keep it from flipping up, which was an issue with the crochet ones. They would dust or fluff up and have their saddle stick straight up.


Solution? Beans!

Making a bean pouch.

More super awesome sewing skills... clearly...


Finished product!
#1

#2


I put them on tonight while it was dark. No freak outs yet. I'll let you know if all chaos breaks out in the morning or not! The stretchy band made them way easier to put on, so hopefully they aren't too easy to get off.
 
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