Tag / hen saddle

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

Chickens Giveaways

Giveaway Duo: Hen Saddle and Keychain

As many of you might remember, during one of Dolly’s numerous times being broody this past Spring, she was bullied by the other hens higher up in the pecking order.  Bullied to get out of the nesting box, bullied to share the eggs she sat upon and just plain jealously from the others ended Dolly with a bloody bare back picked clean of feathers.  It happened within a matter of a couple of hours.

Early that morning she was fine and when I returned with late morning treats I discovered her in one of the nesting boxes badly injured.  It was at this point that I realized I need to keep her protected during her broody periods, especially because she seems to always be broody.  I started searching as to what I could do-enter Louise’s Country Closet.  They immediately sent one out to me in Dolly’s size and I immediately put it on her.  Her back was covered, safe from harm.  Over the next few weeks, the scab healed and new little quills, pin feathers, began to emerge.  She wore the hen saddle for months.  Finally, the feathers returned to normal and I was able to remove the saddle.  She has been saddle free for 2 months now.

Advantages to using Hen Saddles
1.  Cost effective.  You don’t need to have a hospital for your chicken to recover.
2.  Speeds up recovery.  Out of sight, out of mind. The chickens stop picking.
3.  Keeps your girls comfortable with overzealous roosters.
4.  Ensures that your hen keeps her place in the pecking order.
5.  Helps decrease your anxiety about your poor hen’s injuries.
6.  Keeps them warm during the Winter months when their backs are bare.

Tips for using Hen Saddles
Having used the saddles now for almost six months I thought I’d share some words of advice from our personal experiences.
1. Check daily for proper placement.  Be sure that the affected area is still covered and the straps are lying flat and untwisted.
2. Be sure to check weekly for mites and lice hiding under the saddle.  With a saddle on, these insects are protected during dust bathing.  A gentle weekly dusting under the saddle with food grade DE should keep those little buggers in check.
3.  Launder the hen saddle once a week.
4.  Measure your hens before you order to ensure a proper fit.
5.  Order an extra one for your henny girl to wear when the other is in the laundry.
6.  Order one in each size of your hens for your first aid kits.
7.  Do not be tempted to remove your saddle too early.  New beautiful feathers still wrapped in their quills are very tempting for other chickens to peck at.  Better to leave the saddle on until the new feathers completely match the existing ones.
8. In days with extreme heat, consider removing the hen saddle during the hottest times of the day if you notice your hens panting and/or showing signs of overheating.  You might need to separate your hen from the bunch when you do this.

The Giveaway



One Hen Saddle & One Custom Keychain

Hen saddles come in a variety of sizes and patterns.  You will have your choice of one in any combination that you choose.  Want help choosing and getting a perfect fit?  Click here.  So hard to choose, there are over four pages of keychains.  My favorite is the crazy chicken lady! Customizable, durable and lightweight, I’ve had mine for months now and it still looks brand new.


Here’s How to Enter:

Visit Louise’s Country Closet and pick a favorite item.  Come back here and leave a comment with your name, email address and tell me about that item!  One more thing, an added bonus!  If you can’t wait until the giveaway winner is drawn, take advantage of 15% off your order. Just enter Tilly at the check-out.


This giveaway ends on July 22, 2012 at midnight EST.  One entry per person. 
Items ship to one US address only.
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest, Louise’s Country Closet