Have you heard about chicken saddles and hen saddles? This is something I wish I knew about so much sooner. Raise your hand if you:
- keep poultry (chickens, ducks, etc.)
- have hens missing feathers on their back due to roosters and drakes
- have hens missing feathers where their wings start
- feel badly for the birds in your flock who have to deal with those heavy roosters!
Yep, same. I have a pretty big rooster (his name is Pip, I'll be sure to upload a photo of him when I publish this article, I call him my show pony because he is huge and beautiful lol).
Naturally, he is quite a lot bigger than the girls, and he does have his favorites... But anyways, my little half naked chickens need a break, and I found it.
Meet, the chicken saddle.
What Is a Chicken Saddle?
Chicken saddles, also known as chicken aprons or "the hen saddle", are a wearable device you can put on your hens to protect them from feather loss and skin or feather damage that comes from excessive rooster mounting.
Roosters, who are naturally heavier and larger than the hens (unless you get a small Silkie rooster or another small breed) have to hang on to them with their rooster nails and beaks and this can take a toll on a hen.
Hen saddles are made to fit comfortably on the backs of the birds and have spaces for the hen's wings to come through so the hens should not even know they are wearing anything. It provides undetectable but maximum protection in the form of extra padding and back coverage. Plus, they are pretty cute.
What Happens To Chickens With Excessive Damage From Mating?
When hens are loved a bit too much from the rooster, it leads to bald spots, exposed, featherless skin patches and skin injuries.
When hens have bald spots with exposed skin, it can lead to:
- excessive pecking from the flock
- scratches from roosters nails (infection, more pecking)
- sore, vulnerable areas
- no protection from mites and other blood-thirst bugs such as mosquitoes
- the inhibition of new feather growth with continual mating
- possible frostbite in the winter if it is cold enough
- possible sunburn in the summer if it is sunny enough
There are enough problems that these poor hens face with exposed skin and scratches from the rooster. When they are protected by an undetectable, durable, weatherproof cotton fabric on their back, it can prevent this from happening, and it can help a vulnerable chicken with feather growth on already existing bald areas.
Where To Purchase Chicken Saddles
When looking to purchase chicken saddles, there are a number of factors to look for.
- Are they made from a durable material?
- Do they come with options for sizing? (ie: extra wide shoulder)
- How do they connect (ie: zipper, button or double snaps?)
- Do they have reinforced stitching?
- Do they fit other poultry? (such as ducks)
- Does it protect the base of the wings?
- Is it waterproof?
- Does the seller have great reviews?
We have done a lot of research into some amazing makers of saddles for hens and ducks and are sharing our top finds with you.
Best Chicken Saddles
1. Durable Hen Saddles by Down Under Designs on Amazon
Here is a shop on Amazon that is comprised of a husband and wife team (Geoff and Cath) who make and sell patented hen saddles.
With 4 basic color choices, these well-designed saddles are tough and rugged. Durability and sturdiness are all over this design. These hen saddles are made from 14oz. breathable cotton canvas which was double sewn for durability.
About this company:
"We are a husband and wife team that breed show quality Wyandottes and Orpingtons for sale in Australia. Our main business is selling a range of products online, but our chickens take up about half of our time, as we sell hundreds of young birds at about 6 months of age each year.
We have used our saddles without any problems in heavy rain falls, heavy frosts and even in the middle of summer when it regularly gets over 100 degrees in the shade. Their design has evolved over the last 8 years to the quality product we now have available".
Check out their demonstration video in the product listing below:
This husband and wife team have a very easy-to-put-on design:
"[The saddles] fit a large range of sizes because of their unique fastening system. We use quality non rusting copper snaps on the ends of each strap for durability, which gives maximum adjustment. There is no need to bend their wings through small loops, simply wrap the strap around their wing and fasten. When the cover flap is done up, there are no loose straps to get caught. The straps are soft and won’t cut into the birds wings, like elastic straps can.
Because of being able to lock each strap to the right length, the saddle does not slip from side to side, which happens if the straps just slide through a fold in the top. It is extremely rare for our saddles to come off if adjusted properly".
Here are some photos of a hen who has had a lot of damage and how a Down Under Designs saddle has helped her regrow her feathers:
"Protection, durability, comfort and a saddle that stays on, have been the driving forces behind our design. We breed from about 40 birds each season and have been using saddles for the last 8 years. We know what works and what doesn’t".
This is defiantly a good quality saddle worth checking out.
2. Cute Chicken Saddles by Shiitake Creek
This handmade shop on Etsy based in Aurora Wisconsin, has the most adorable, well-built chicken saddles. From cute dress designs, to hen aprons with an egg on them to our personal fave, the dinosaur or dragon designs.
Here is what shop owner Margaret has to say about one of their dragon hen saddles:
Does your hen secretly wish they were a dinosaur or dragon? If so this is the perfect chicken saddle for them. It features a waterproof canvas fabric exterior, sturdy and strong to keep pain or feather loss from roosters at bay. It is lined with a super soft organic cotton sateen fabric, comfortable and wearable to help damage feathers to grow back.
This shop has had over 6000 sales with raving reviews that average 5 stars. The materials typically involve super soft lining made from organic cotton and waterproof canvas fabric exteriors, which is an important note. We don't want our healing hens to be wet all day if they find their way into watery grass, puddles and in rain or snow. Many of her designs also have tail protectors!
To put on a chicken saddle from this handmade seller, simply follow their instructions:
To put on the chicken saddle, simply hold your hen firmly and slide one end of the elastic strap on one side of the wing. Then do the same for the opposite wing with caution. It may take a bit for your hen to get used to it’s new costume, but give it some time.
Here is how to measure for hen saddle sizing for these specific aprons:
Keep one end of a tape measure even with the wing joint on their upper back, measure down the mid-line of their back to the base of their tail. You can use that measurement to choose what size your bird will need.
Small: 4 1/2 inches long, 4 inches wide
Standard: 7 inches long, 7 inches wide
Large: 8 1/2 inches long, 9 1/5 inches wide
3. Handmade Hen Saddles by Winding Brook Studio
Here is another seller who makes beautiful hen saddles. And these ones are reversable! This shop basically has one design with variants of it (some have super cute frills) but there are so many patterns of material to choose from.
From different chicken and farmhouse designs, to styles of eggs, farm animals and flowers. Most of the designs all fall into a similar color palette so if you were to buy several for different girls in your flock, they would all be coordinated (how cute!).
These are made with pre-washed and dried cotton fabric so you can go ahead and wash and dry them too. They are interfacing for an extra layer of protection and have a polyester elastic band.
To size for these saddles, check out the sizing guide, taken from this listing:
Chicken capes come in three sizes:
LARGE: 7.5’’ wide x 9’’ long .
Good for standard size breeds. I use this one for my Australorp.
SMALL: 6.5’’ wide x 8’’ long .
Good for bantam breeds. I use this size for my Brahma and NH Red
TINY: 5" wide x 7" long. Good for silkies or pullets
CUSTOM: Other sizes are available on special order. Just leave me a message.
***If you want to be sure of the size you can measure your chicken's width at the hips and length from base of neck to base of tail.
To fit these on your hens, here are handmade seller Nicole's instructions:
"To get your chicken cape on, just hold your hen in front of you and gently slip the elastic over her wing up to its base, then repeat on the other side. The elastic band is held in place by a loop of fabric that allows it to slide back and forth and makes it easier for you to put the cape on your hen. It fits loosely around her ‘shoulder’ and allows for full movement".
You can watch the hen saddle in action if you click on any apron in the product listing and watch the product video. These aprons are absolutely adorable on, and there are even packages you can buy.
This is another shop that gets rave reviews averaging 5 stars, and has sold more than 2300 products.
We highly recommend you check this little shop out!
4. Saddles by Hen Saver on Amazon
Here is a patented design you can get on Amazon. This is a USA-based design that features a durable and robust apron with a notch at the base to accommodate the hen's tail feathers and a layer of breathable batting between two layers of rip, tear and puncture-resistant material.
The company has this to say about their design:
Why does your hen need a Hen Saver?
- Made in the USA.
- Protects your hens’ backs from treading by amorous roosters.
- Provides coverage from pecking by your other chickens.
- Covers areas of existing injury to prevent further damage to your chicken.
- Enables prompt healing of wounds to promote feather re-growth.
- Inhibits the ability of hawks to grasp your chickens.
You can choose from 6 different colors and 4 different sizes, and there are some great guidelines on how to choose a size from this manufacturer (see below):
5. Handmade Saddles by Thimble Works STA on Etsy
Here is a handmade shop based in Jacksonville NC showcasing chicken saddles with or without shoulder protectors. Handmade seller Montanna says that chicken saddles "are an essential chicken accessory when raising safe and happy hens.
"These chicken aprons allow feather growth while also protecting them from the nails and spurs of their rooster during mating season. By adopting one of our butterfly chicken saddles you won’t have to trim your rooster and you can even use them during a molt in case of excessive pecking."
With reversable designs that resemble mermaids and popular flowers and stripes, each hen saddle is really cute to look at, and can even be personalized.
Montanna has this to say about her designs:
"Each of these chicken saddles are handmade using high quality cotton fabrics, quilted cotton materials, and quilt batting between the layers for additional padding and protection. This will keep your hens feathers safe and the hen herself warm during the cooler months."
We hope we helped you find some great, durable and cute designs for your hen saddles. Keeping our flock safe is part of our job as chicken keepers, and that includes protecting them from each other as well.
Here are some other chicken-related articles you may be interested in:
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