Monday, March 14, 2011

Saddle Up Your Chicken!

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!

eggs1

Thank you, Linda at Prairie Flower Farm, for alerting me that Tractor Supply has these red wire egg baskets for 4.99. So cute… and useful too!

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.

template-pattern

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…

nightyNite_saddles

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.

Lucy examines her new saddle.
lucy_examines

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!

sig3

38 comments:

Blondee said...

Great job!

texwisgirl said...

I hope your chickens get some relief. That was sweet of you to give Mandy and her mom a shout out! :)

Linda Stubbs said...

Cute!!!!!!!!!!! don't you love it? I think they are the cutest! Now look at your girls. They are a hoot with their saddles.

Thank you so for coming over and saying hi today. I have been having so much fun.......just doing my own thing. I went outside and was walking around..........praising the Lord.........my heart was so full of joy! HOME is a wonderful place to be.

Love you sweet pea,
Linda

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

Oh, ,my that is so cute :) :) It is kind of funny for me...because I dno't have chicken..but hey, if it keeps your girl chickens safe and happy, it's good :) :) I love that red wire basket that's holding the eggs. That is really cute. The price you quoted is also really good. Oh, I was reading the April/May issue of Mary Jane's Farm magazine. It's all about vintage things. however, there is a pattern in there for a chicken nappy :) :) I guess that's good if the chickens are roaming around in your house. They won't diry up stuff :) :) Have a great week. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

Missouri Gal said...

OMG! That is too funny! I mean I feel sorry for the hens but they look so cute with their jackets on.

Rural Revival said...

A rooster cave...that's the ticket!

: )

~Andrea~

Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Before the handsome Mr. Clyde was sent off to terrorize (I mean be with)his new family, I used these on my girls as well and they worked with great success! I highly recommend them!!
Staci

Gone Country said...

What a great idea! Our old chickens suffered from bare backs because of 'the boys'! We have a new flock coming in and will have to keep the jackets in mind if we accidentally end up with a rooster!

Sue said...

This is so funny Tammy, but can relate to your problem,as one chicken keeper to another.
You did a great job, and one thing for sure they are making a great fashion statement.
Sue

Rachel said...

I know they are practical BUT I just think those hennys are adorable with those things on!

Mandy said...

Aww, thank you hun! Your girls look SO cute with those saddles! I imagine that feels much much better with those when that roo jumps on them.

mountain mama said...

hee hee, i've never seen such a thing! what a great idea! and cute too :)

Kilauea Poetry said...

(lol) That is down right cute and creative..very colorful too. I saw a cute hen house on the link which looks like a playhouse my neighbor (with the hens I get to babysit) built- unreal! Hey, if it does the trick! Your eggs look delicious and header is lovely too.
Wishing you a wonderful week~

Catherine said...

I have never seen that before! but such a good idea! Hugs Catherine

Walking on Sunshine... said...

Being born and raised in NYC I had no clue what you were talking about! But after reading this, good job! I'm sure your chickens would thank you if they could!

Osage Bluff Quilter said...

Silly me, I thought saddles were for horses. Sort of like silly rabbit, Trix's are for kids!
Have a great warm up week, after snow yesterday. 5 inches or more here.

Cheryl said...

Your girls are stylin, so cute, you did a really good job! Love the egg basket!

Carrie of Farming On Faith said...

Oh so cute!

Rural Rambler said...

Tammy I think I am speechless. I admit to not knowing what the heck you were talking about at first. Now I see and I see the purpose. I think the saddles are very fashionable and purposeful! You did a great job :) I see some new things here, I need to come back and browse when I am done with comments. Wow, guess I wasn't so speechless. It is going to be a beautiful day and week! Spring is here!

Leslie @ Farm Fresh Fun said...

Thank you so much for this great idea! Romeo Rooster is workin' on my girls back feathers already and I'd rather not get out the sewing machine. Love your sweet pics!
hugs,
Leslie

Nezzy said...

Glory to goodness girl. I thought I'd done went and heard of anything that could possible be used in 'farm livin' but I have never ever hear of a Chicken Saddle!!! Heeheeheh!!! I can't tell ya how hard I laughed at your title.

Ya'll have a terrifically blessed Tuesday!!!

Country Dreaming said...

I'm with Nezzy. Never heard of such a thing--but I am a city girl.
Makes sense though and they do amke the Hens look quite fashionable. Hope they help!!!

Melinda

Nancy M. said...

Those are so cute! I have some I bought from someone on BYC. My boys are rowdy too, lol!

Cheryl said...

Your girls are stylin', I do like your idea of a bachelor pad....you are such a kind thoughtful critter mom!

Rural Revival said...

These are definitely at the top of the list of things I would never have learned without blogging!

: )

Cheryl @ The Farmer's Daughter said...

Hi Tammy, oh the things you learn in blogland! I saw your blog title and wondered aloud what could a chicken saddle be? I'd never heard of them. Great story! And the photos of the gals with their saddles on...cute! Cute red wire basket, too. Great price. Have a good week, spring is on the way!

Kathleen From Eggs In My Pocket said...

Love the saddle idea! The photo with the chicken looking at hers is just too funny! But having a handful of roosters as well as hens, I know how important these saddles are! Just wonderful. blessings,Kathleen

Barbara said...

Too funny, and real, the two reds I just got have the back that there was a rooster in that group where they came from, I do not have any roosters, and my hens are all well feathered, that is a good idea, protects them. Hugs

Deanna said...

Hi Tammy. I had no idea it was even possible to put clothes on a chicken! Those saddles are a great idea.

I love your header. Can't wait until the trees start bloominig again.

Jenny said...

Gosh, I would have never thought of the need for these, but it looks like they turned out great. I had a lot of smiles reading about the 'fitting' adventures.

Megan @ Restoring the Roost said...

Hi Tammy! I have been needing to make a chicken saddle for one of my girls who has a few bald spots near her rear end. Glad to hear your girls are adjusting to wearing them :)

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

I bet your girls are very grateful. I happened to see Mandy's saddles and they are cute as well.

Savories of Life said...

Thanks for postin. i love chickens so will read your blog very often. When I ahve 100 followers I will do a blog giveaway.

Mz-Cellaneous said...

Ugh.. I totally need to do this for several of my hens, I just hate the time commitment to adjust every day, and chasing chickens. They don't "love" me. lol. However, the biggest PITA rooster went to crock pot heaven this weekend so maybe some of the feather loss will get better.

Elisabeth said...

What a colorful flock you have. It gave me a smile but it really is a good idea. No sewing. That's exactly what I would want.

Elle Bee said...

I didn't even know that was an issue with roosters--we only have hens. Your saddles are too cute!!

Charlotte said...

Thank you so much for showing the saddles. Though I do sew, I decided to buy a couple from Mandy since it's her business. My little Americana hen will be so much better off with it. I didn't know what was happening to her. Rude Mr. Big Foot.

www.charlottemenagerie.blogspot.com

Jodi R. said...

Hello, thank you so much for this. Needed a cover that was easy to make and fast. My girl has a huge bald spot because of the roos. I was hoping you could help with another one of her problems. She is missing some wing feathers and her wings look so sore. Do you know of a method of covering the wings to protect them? We won't be able to separate them from each other until better weather hopefully in a couple of weeks. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you again!!!

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