FYI: A Hen Saddle or Hen Apron protects the hens’ backs from overly zealous roosters.
It’s not like I don’t have other things to do, but making some hen saddles had been a priority on my list for quite some time. I love my two rooster boys just as much as my hens, but let’s face it… roosters will be roosters. My poor hens have bare spots on their backs. This can lead to wounds as well. So, this whole hen saddle thing is not just a fashion statement – it’s a matter of comfort, health, and protection for my little flock. And, after all…. look at what those girls do for me!
I’ve had a pattern and some supplies on my sewing table for quite some time, but the thought of sewing 15 little ‘jackets’ for my hens seemed like a big time commitment.
I’m so not into the whole big time commitment thing.
Enter Backyard Chickens and some pure genius creative minds who came up with an idea to do no-sew polar fleece hen saddles. There seemed to be several folks who were trying this out, so I thought.. what the hay? I’ll give it a try too.
Polar fleece is stretchy and does not have to be finished. How perfect. I also had some on hand. Even better!
Supplies: Grab a tape measure (measure the space from wing to wing on the back & from “shoulder” of wing to the start of the tail – this will give you an idea of the size), polar fleece fabric, scissors and that’s all you really need. If you have several to make, grab some scrap cardboard too and make up a template (once you’ve perfected your design).
It took four trial runs before I finally came up with a design that seemed to work for my Ameraucana/Easter Eggers (I consider them to be standard or average size hens).
Here is my “prototype saddle” with the cardboard template underneath.
It does look somewhat like a mask, don’t you think? The “eyes” at the top are where the wings are pulled through. The “mouth” at the bottom is for the tail. I just started out with a very ‘guestimated’ measurement, and cut the basic shape and some holes. Then I proceeded to modify (and modify…). It will take a little practice to get it just right for your birds. In fact, I know mine still are not just right.
Fitting day was a fussy day in the chicken coop. Nobody wanted to take their turn at being fitted for their “jacket”. Squawks could be heard far and wide. There was also lots of flying across the chicken coop – a rather dangerous place to be, I might add. But we survived, and nobody really seems to mind them now – after a couple weeks of use.
Here’s the line-up for bedtime…
They have remained in place fairly well. However, morning and night I may find 2 or 3 out of the 15 who need ‘adjustments’.. i.e. a wing slipped out, or a tail. And yes… once or twice a day, one girl (usually Opal) manages to completely pull and wiggle their way out of the saddle… leaving their garment in the nest box or in the muddy chicken pen. But still, it certainly buys them a little time to grow some feathers back.
Maybe when Summer arrives I’ll get more ambitious and try to make some of the cotton/interfacing/elastic saddles that my pattern is for.
Or, perhaps I’ll just build a Bachelor Pad and keep the boys separate. Best.idea.yet!
I do see the need to make about 4 smaller saddles as Opal, Miss Cluck, Loretta and Bella are a little smaller than the other girls and have trouble keeping their garments on :)
If you’re not into DIY, but a hen saddle sounds like something your chicken girls could use, check out Mandy’s Rabbit Ranch blog. Mandy and her mom make and sell some really cute ones here. Quite reasonably too, I will add!