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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