Chickens Health Issues Stories from Our Nest

Back in the Saddle Again

Sunshine eyeing up Dolly as she heads out into the run.

A couple of weeks ago, like clockwork Dolly went broody again.  So as the routine goes, Sunshine pecks the feathers off Dolly’s head and I retrieve a hen saddle because she refuses to vacate the flock’s favorite nesting box. Dolly has been wearing the same saddle off and on for the past year. A couple weeks ago when I was out with the girls, I noticed the saddle laying out in the run.  I scooped it up to find that the snaps were still in place.  Somehow
she had removed the saddle. I just figured that perhaps the elastic bands were stretched out from the year of use and reordered another one.

Two new adorable saddles arrived just in time. I pulled Dolly’s warm body from the vacant nesting box and plopped her on my lap. It is as if she knew what I was about to do. I gently unsnapped the saddle’s elastic, wrapped the elastic around her wing, and snapped it securely in place.  She’s such a good girl and sits patiently knowing that she has no choice. I did the other side too, gave her a kiss on the head and returned her to the run. The saddle fit her beautifully. It was nice to see a new one on her that was not faded from the sun.  I felt good that she was once again protected.

Two days later, I was out visiting the girls in the afternoon. It was snack time. All the girls came running including Dolly.  Yet, when I saw Dolly, I mistook her for Autumn for a moment.  No, it was Dolly, happy as a clam, she was just missing her saddle. As the girls were enjoying their treats, I began to look for the saddle.  It was not in the nesting boxes. Nor was it in the coop.  Then I saw it in the run soiled with dirt.  The snaps were still buttoned.  Somehow Dolly must have slipped out of the saddle on her own despite it fitting securely.  I am not entirely sure how she did it.  Was there an accomplice? Did it take a matter of minutes or only hours?  The only thing that I do know is that she does not want to wear the saddle.

Sometimes, even though we like to think we know what is best for others, we can’t always be the judge. I like to think that Dolly was protected by the saddle but this behavior is new. I don’t understand why she did this and perhaps never will.  I decided to not replace the saddle despite knowing the possible consequences. It is not possible to have control over all things- trying to keep everyone out of harms way all the time. I’m learning as a parent and a chicken keeper that sometimes it is best to let them things lie and be there to pick up the pieces as only a mother knows how.

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

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  • HI there!
    Where do you order your saddles from? I have one that seems so heavy for my hen. She looks very uncomfortable when she wears it and I am afraid she will break a wing trying to remove it on her own when I'm not around. She is super special to me and would hate for her to get hurt. Any input is appreciated :) Enjoy the day!
    Deb Rosengard

    • I order them from Louise's Country Closet. Personally, I do believe they are the best.

  • Try tightening up the straps once, that might help too! :)

    • Thanks. I think I need to get a hen cam out there! Wouldn't that be fun.

  • I have a saddle on one of my girls because the rooster really likes her, so her back is bare. He can be kind of rough, so sometimes he pulls the saddle off her! I need to get another one with snaps so it'll hopefully stay put.

    It's so hard to know that we can't control everything!

  • I've actually never heard of a saddle for hen lol. Makes sense though if hens are going to have a go like that.
    Maybe you should make a prototype yourself, an unflappable, unremoveable, hen proof, cockerel proof saddle?
    I'll certainly be watching out for signs of that pecking with my own hens.

  • Sure would! And if you need any adjustments to the saddle, let me know! I'm here for ya :)

    • Actually it fits beautifully as always, not to tight or loose in fact it is just as if you made it custom for her. I have no idea how she did it at all. I'm sure at some point the saddle will go back on. Sunshine is relentless :( Thank you Mandy!!

  • And so what's up with her taking her saddle off?? My little Flossie girl has removed hers twice in the past two weeks…. Is this anything like burning bras??

    • Lol! I love the analogy…burning bras. I think you might be on to something!

  • Kp

    A chicken coop cam would be hilarious to watch. :)

  • Anonymous

    I have two saddles from Louise's Country Closet and they work like a charm. The snaps make them very each to get on and off. I have another brand that does not have snaps and neither the chickens nor I like putting it on or off. Plus, they look so cute in their little sunflower prints:) Linda

  • Thank you so much for your informative posts. Being a newbie chicken mama, I had never heard of chicken saddles and this post prompted me to do some fun, interesting research. I love learning new things especially when it comes to chickens, so thanks again. I love your blog!