Ever wanted to dress up your chicken? Well, if you have a rooster, then you have the perfect excuse! This chicken saddle tutorial is simple, stylish and useful!
Why Chicken Saddles are Useful
Roosters will sometimes pick favorite hens and then lavish all their attention on that hen. This will often cause the hen to have broken or missing feathers on her back, maybe even bare skin or bloody spots! Chicken saddles are a great way to help protect the hen’s back and not disrupt any natural chicken behaviors.
My black Copper Maran hen, Myrtle, is an obvious favorite of one of my roosters. You can see the missing feathers on her head. That is where the rooster would grab her feathers to keep himself on top of her. Her wings show spots where the rooster’s claws (or spurs) pulled out some of the feathers. The light brown chicken saddle that she is wearing is protecting her back feathers from getting pulled out as well!
Chicken Saddle Tutorial
- 1/4 yard of fleece
- 13 inches of 1/8 of an inch wide elastic
- sewing machine
- fabric scissors
- free printable chicken saddle pattern
Instructions: Print off the chicken saddle pattern. Cut it out and pin it onto the fleece. Cut it out of the fleece with your fabric scissors and take the pattern off. Sew around the entire saddle using 1/4 inch seam allowance. Cut your elastic into 6 1/2 inch pieces. Sew one end of each of your elastic pieces on to the top of the chicken saddle as indicated on the pattern. Sew the other end of each elastic piece to the sides of the chicken saddle as indicated on the pattern. Make sure you backstitch several times across both ends of the elastic pieces. This will keep the elastic securely fastened to the chicken saddle.
This chicken saddle pattern is designed to fit large chicken breeds like black Copper Marans, Black Sex Links, and Amaraucanas. To make chicken saddles that fit smaller breeds, you may need to shorten the elastic pieces and the length of the chicken saddle.
Using the Chicken Saddle
To put the chicken saddle on a hen, first hold the bird still (either on the ground or by holding the hen in one hand and supporting her against your body). Then slide one elastic strap over one wing, keeping the wing in the natural folded position. Make sure the elastic sits properly around the wing shoulder and does not bend or fold any feathers. Do the same with the other strap and other wing. The hen may not like the chicken saddle at first and may try to preen it off. Most hens will get over it though and pretty soon they won’t even bother with it on their back. The nice thing about these fleece saddles is that, if they get really dirty, you can just throw them in your washer and have a nice clean saddle again!
If your hen(s) look like my hen Myrtle, it may be a good idea to separate the rooster and give the ladies a break. How long it takes the feathers to grow back in depends on the bird’s molt cycle. After each molt, blood flow will slowly be cut off from the feather follicles since they no longer need to grow. If the feathers were pulled after the blood supply has stopped, then the feathers will not grow back in until the bird’s next molt. If the feathers were pulled while there was still blood supply, then you may need to stop some bleeding (I had to do this for my hen Myrtle). After the bleeding is stopped, hopefully the feathers will begin to re-grow.
Your hens will thank you for the protection and you will have a happy and nice looking flock once again!