Have you ever heard of chicken saddles? About four years ago when I was a fairly new chicken keeper, I heard of them but had no clue what they would be used for. Surely nothing was going to be hitching a ride on my hen, right? Eventually I figured it all out and have found saddles to be very useful in my flock!
The saddle is made from is a piece of fabric that rests on the hen's back for protection with two elastic loops fitted over the wings to hold the fabric in place. We put this saddle on Lucy because our head rooster, Cam, is very fond of her and mates with her quite often. Roosters can be rough with hens during mating and actually pull out some back feathers while positioning or "treading" on the hen. Poor Lucy's back was getting pretty bare so we put a saddle on her to protect her skin from Cam's nails. With no feathers for protection, Lucy's skin could easily be cut open by Cam's nails resulting in a very serious wound - this has actually happened a couple times with our other hens and it is quite traumatic.
The saddle will keep Lucy's back safe while allowing for feather re-growth. The saddles are fairly easy to put on and my girls don't seem to mind them at all after they get used to them. For a few minutes they usually fidget around, but soon enough they seem to forget the saddle is even there.
Even if you don't have a rooster, saddles are great to have on hand. Back when I just had my first flock of pullets, someone developed a bad habit of feather picking and lots of the girls' backs were totally bare. Saddles would be great in this situation to prevent any injuries from pecking (and cannibalism - it happens in rare occasions - yikes!). Also, if a hen is broody and sitting in the favorite nesting box, other hens may peck at her to try to get her off the nest so they can lay their eggs in the box. A saddle would protect the hen's back if you are unable to move her to a separate enclosure with her clutch of eggs (which is recommended in the case of broody hens).
If you have chickens, have you ever used saddles on any of your hens?
Shared with Backyard Farming Connection