The important thing, is that chicken saddles are very cheap and easy to make! You can, of course, buy some from some wonderful websites, but I am too frugal (i.e.broke) to spend money on something that I can make myself.
First, gather your supplies. You need two kinds of fabric. I prefer a thicker, stiffer, fabric for the outer layer so that the boys' claws don't scratch through. Also, a thinner, more breathable fabric for the bottom layer so that it doesn't hold moisture against the hen and lets air circulate. Sometimes the fabrics don't match as well as I'd like, but the hens don't seem to mind. :) It takes less than a foot of each, so scraps are wonderful to use. To make the straps that go around the wings you can use elastic, found at a craft or fabric store, but I usually use hair bands, that I cut at the seam. I always have some laying around. Just make sure that they are long enough and not too thick. I usually make larger saddles because I have buff orphingtons, which are quite large and fluffy, but they can easily be made any size. I may need some for the turkey hens soon!
- Thick, stiff fabric
- Thin, breathable fabric
- Elastic, hair bands
- Sewing machine, or needle and thread
- measuring tape
- pencil/ chalk
- Chicken model :)
1. Measure the hen. First, the base of the neck, between the shoulder blades, to the base of the tail. Second, between the wings at the shoulder blades. Third, across the back (from the top of one leg to the top of the other). Add 1/2 inch to each measurement for seams.
2. Draw the pattern onto a piece of paper, using the measurements. I usually make half a pattern and fold the material over to ensure that both sides are even.
3. Pin the fabrics together, right sides together, wrong sides out with pattern attached.
4. Fold in half lengthwise, cut out pattern. (My paper pattern is not shown attached)
6. Turn right side out.
7. Stick the ends of the elastic into the holes that were cut.
8. Tuck the loose ends under, iron flat if necessary. Sew around the outer edge, closing the hole up, anchoring the elastic, and causing the saddle to be flatter and hold its shape better. Make sure to sew over the elastic several times to anchor it in really well.
9. Be proud :) You just made a hen saddle!
To put the hen saddle on the hen:
1. Hope that your hen is forgiving, and won't put up too much of a fight. They soon get used to it, and some don't mind it from the very beginning.
2. Simply place the saddle on the hen's back, hook the top of the wing with the elastic and pull the wing through. Be gentle and try not to go against the feathers. Do the other side the same way.
|This saddle is too short for this hen, but she was a willing model as|
she is broody at the moment. :) She is the next in line for a saddle,
4. Check regularly. I don't like using them for long periods. Usually just when I have a problem rooster that I need to deal with, or until the feathers grow back on a hen's back that has had some very unromantic suitors calling on her much too regularly.
They are so very easy, and are an important part of a chicken first aid kit. Nice to have handy, because they are usually needed when you don't have time to drag out the sewing machine and stitch one up. So, as it turns out, putting saddles on your chickens doesn't necessarily mean you are insane! Simply a prepared animal owner, and probably a chicken lover <3 Hope you find them as helpful as I have!