Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chicken saddles

In February, I wrote of the issues I've been having with my rooster's nails. Roopert the rooster loves his girl chickens just a little too much. Their feathers were starting to come off their backs and I was seriously concerned that he was going to break the skin.

A very kind commenter, Amy, over at Crazy for the Country, recommended that I check out the handiwork of a person advertising her chicken saddles on the Backyard Chicken Forum. I did, liked what I saw and, a short time later, these pretty little things arrived in the mail:

I got to pick out the fabric:

Anxious to try one out, I went outside and grabbed the chicken closest to me with feather loss. In this case, it was Spongebob:

I put it on her. She freaked. She ran about the chicken run like mad:

All the other chickens tried to stay out of her way:

And, silly me, I hadn't realized that you need to cross the little elastic straps across their chests before securing, otherwise the saddle pretty much just slides right off:

So, after clarifying this with my new saddle seamstress, I went back to the coop and tried again. This time I put four of them on - one on each of the hens with the greatest feather loss. My thought here was that if other hens have them on, too, then one won't freak out any worse than another.

Now, in my defense, let me just say - before I show you the video - that I never, EVER anticipated that the chickens would react the way they did. I had never heard from anyone, or read on any site, about chickens being fearful of fabric garments.

Here. Watch. I normally have pretty quiet chickens.
In this video, you will see:
1) Wynonna (Silver-Laced Wyandotte) on the far right-hand side of the perch trying to figure out what in the WORLD is on her back.
2) You will see her jump down and move through the chicken run like I've put the video on fast forward. I have not.
3) You will hear Roopert the rooster screeching like a girl, and
4) At approximately the 00:32 second mark you will, for a split second, see Princess (the Black Star) doing a very good impression of Michael Jackson's backward moonwalk:

Dang! All of this over a few pieces of cotton.

The wiser (saddle-less) girls got the heck out of the way and jumped to higher ground to observe the ruckus:

Wynonna sought comfort at the back of my head, which seemed to calm her a bit:

After things quieted a bit, she tested the rooster waters by jumping up next to Roopert to gauge his reaction. He no longer felt the need to screech:

Now as awful as this all seems, you will be relieved to know that everybody finally got a grip and calmed the hell down.
Wynonna excused herself and took a rest in the coop:

Bippity perched to admire the view:

Others gathered around the fresh hay to chat quietly about all that had happened:

Roopert and Princess started to make eyes at each other:

My lap beckoned to Boppity and Cowgirl:

Once everyone clearly saw that the cozy pieces of fabric on their backs were not going to eat them or their friends, all was peaceful again in the Critter Farm Chicken Coop:


  1. omg that is so funny!Thanks for the laugh ;)

  2. I believe I will have to revisit several times a day just to watch this and laugh! Who knew you had a moonwalking chicken?

    This reminds me of when we put doggie clothes on our yorkie. She does not like it, at. all.

  3. Oh. My. LORD!!!

    Danni, you made me laugh so hard. When Wynonna ran into the coop, it sounded like she hit the wall! I feel bad that I laughed at the imagery the sound created - she just ran in there so fast! lol

    I'm glad they've all calmed down and I hope that the saddles do the trick.

  4. Yes, mayhem alright! I never thought of putting protective clothing on my hens. When my rooster actually fatally injured one of my hens with his spurs during mating, we built him separate living quarters and he lived the celebate life from then on. The rooster and hen runs were separated by wire fencing so they could see and talk to each other, but no hanky panky was possible after that.

    I hope your fabric saddles work! Chickens can get spooked by the funniest things. Mine were afraid of my wheelbarrow.

  5. Whew!! that was something! glad they got used to that quick!

  6. They did seem to go a little crazy! I'm glad to hear that they calmed down. I am so happy you posted this! I have one poor girl who is almost naked! Is there anything I an do for her poor head where the roos grab her?

  7. I am still laughing. Thank you so much. We haven't had this problem so far. We have to get a couple more roosters. Samson has 37 hens. I don't think he has the energy to pull out feathers.

  8. Who would have thought? I have some of that fabric in your first picture. We love it!

  9. Oh my lol. Glad they all came to terms with their new attire, they look so cute now :)

  10. That was very funny. They look just like little aprons.

  11. Oh those poor dears. I wonder what that will do to their egg production tomorrow. I'm glad to see that they settled down and got on with business.

  12. That was very funny Danni. You would think that they had seen a mountain lion or something. Poor hens didn't know you were trying to help them.

  13. Hilarious. Loved the moonwalk, though I had to rewind and watch carefully. Glad everyone's settled down.

  14. Now that you've got them all desensitized to their saddles, I think you're qualified to hang out your shingle as a Chicken Whisperer. Think of the possibilities...your own line of instructional DVDs, a show on RFD-TV. I'll be proud to say I knew you when you got your start.

  15. That was so much fun! I never heard of such a thing! By the end of it, I think the hens look really grand in their saddles. Maybe I should send you some Africa fabrics so that you can make very exquisite ones? :-)

  16. At first I wasn't sure if I should cry or laugh. After all, I've known these ladies since early infancy. But when I heard Rupert,(notice my sp.), I lost it. I started my morning laughing so hard! I think the girls will not only get used to their new attire, but actually flaunt it. They might even try to talk you into new frocks for every day of the week... No, I won't sew for them, but how about a cute little knit version???

  17. OMG, I just laughed so loud that my assistant started staring at me! I was pounding on my desk and tearing up! That's what I get for doing this at

    Glad they all got settled down and are flaunting their new duds.

    Can you let us know if it seems to help?

  18. HAHA the video is HILARIOUS! Princess has some mean moonwalking skills, haha! I've never heard of chicken saddles, and I'm not sure if I'll ever need them because we only have hens, but they are really cool! I didn't know they existed!

    Love your hens, all so pretty...

  19. I just know my girls would freak out too. Haven't really had the feather loss problem but maybe a difference in breeds. I have two roosters and they have approx 20 girls apiece.

  20. Oh thats entertainment!!!
    Crazy hens,eh?
    What breed is your Gorgeous Overly lovin Rooster??

  21. You and your chickens are TOO much! Ha ha! I forwarded a link to my mom for some entertainment. Well..I hope it helps with the "riding" so to speak! Ha!

  22. Oy. As the goatmother's old grandfather used to say, 'Fits like a saddle on a pig.'

  23. That video made my day Danni! Thanks! The noises were hysterical!
    I wish I'd been able to take a video when our kitten Poppy had to wear a cone to stop her biting her stitches out. Soooo funny!

  24. Well thanks a lot! Now my mascara is running!!
    Your description had me in stitches and then I ran the video.
    I hope all is well in the coop tonight. :)

  25. That is too funny!! Our chickens had chicken saddles on them too, but they didn't react like that!

    I love the 'moonwalkin' black star!!

  26. Oh my! Our chicks just arrived. I have never had chickens before so is this what I have to look forward to?

  27. He, he...personally I find the first photo of the post the most funny... Looks like you've shaved her back only to find that she's tattooed all over. :D

  28. I am mainly going to stay away from this one and just say congratulations for starting the chicken "novelty" business!

  29. Well, I never.... I thought that it was the lovin' Stew was handing out.... so Stew was stew.... very good stew indeed. But that did not solve the feather loss.... did I miss the url for the site with chicken saddles.... my ladies need some!

  30. I am laughing so hard I'm choking on my own spit. Even showed Maine Man. Hysterical video!

  31. That's just hilarious. Thanks for a good laugh. I hope they've all calmed down and are used to their new wardrobe by now. Does it work?

  32. OK, I know I'm late on this, but I was just poking around and ran across that video. That is the funniest thing ever! My girls did not react like that to their saddles - at least I don't think they did. I put them on their backs at night, after they go to roost. So they very well may moon walk and run around like ninnies after I closed the coop door. Hmmmm, I may have to hang out a bit the next time I put a saddle on one of them.

    I make saddles for others, and one woman wrote to tell me her hen fell on the ground and acted paralyzed after she put the saddle on her. I think she eventually got used to it though.

    Poor, poor Roopert. I really hope you didn't tell him you put a video of him screaming like a girl on the internet for the world to see.......

  33. Hi, I just got my saddles about a week ago and have been hesitant to try them. The first time I did, I got the same reaction as you, but I thought my hen would have a heart-attack, so I took it off. How have they adjusted over time? Have the feathers underneath grown back? I bought the Hen Savers, which come with a shoulder guard, have you tried those? If so, did they work? You are the only one who mentioned the same problems as me with the hens freaking out. I wonder if we just have really spoiled chickens...?

  34. Hi cottonwood inn, bed & breakfast! Thanks for your comment. To answer your questions:
    1) Every hen of mine that has a saddle on has, indeed, adjusted to it. Princess, my hen in the video who was doing the backward moonwalk, has remained "barebacked" because she still FREAKS out horribly when I put one on - to the point where I fear she will hurt herself if I leave it on.
    2) The feathers underneath have not grown back. I had expected them to, but nope ...just bare skin under there. Maybe when the significant feathers only grow once a year, like after molting? I'll find out, I guess - their first molting should be happening in the next couple months.
    3) I had not heard of "hen savers" until you mentioned it and I looked them up. I didn't know they had anything called a shoulder guard! I can see where something like that might be helpful (I have hens with bare shoulders now, too), but in the heat we've been having (100+ degrees), I would worry about them overheating. Good luck with those and keep *me* posted, pls!
    4) Oh, and YES...we (you & I) definitely have spoiled chickens. :-) :-)

  35. I am worried about the re-growth issue. I need to look at BYC and see if anyone has mentioned that. Everybody says, "get rid of your roosters!" And they ARE little toad-bags, as well as being hard on the hens. But hey, they're my boys and I raised them. I just tied some old towel scraps around my head roo's spurs. We'll see if that slows down the carnage.
    We must be getting your weather-- in the high 80s here in Taos for the next few days. My parents own a fishery on the Nehalem Bay, 30 miles north of Tillamook-- The Jetty Fishery. They said the exodus from Portland to the coast was amazing last week. I heard 108 in Portland...I just can't believe it.
    Anyhow, thanks for your kind reply. This issue keeps me up nights. I'm considering a second "rooster coop and run," but I think my husband will go ballistic if I pursue that too closely.

    Keep on clucking....

  36. LOL!

    My blog got a hit from someone searching "chicken saddles" and when I clicked on it, guess what? This old post of yours came up on the same list!

    Hilarious video! My girls just sort of stand there confused, and pick at them for a a few minutes... and then it's back to life as usual. The saddles really do make all the difference. I just cut plain stretchy fleece into a square shape with slits for the wings and tail. Costs pennies and works like a charm!


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