A chicken saddle, also known as a cape or apron is a valuable item in a chicken keeper’s toolbox. It can protect your hen from loss of feathers and pecking. If you are thinking that putting a saddle on a chicken is a ridiculous notion, I completely understand. I chuckled the first time I saw chickens wearing them. Then we ended up with roosters in the flock and I soon learned just how valuable these saddles can be.
The saddle provides two main functions, neither fashion related.
Preventative: When roosters mate with hens, they tend to grab onto her feathers and mount her. Depending on the rooster, this can be rather aggressive and cause bald patches, redness and bleeding. Compounding the problem, hens will pick at one another’s weaknesses. A bald patch is open invitation to pecking. A little wound will soon turn into a problem for that poor hen. If you keep roosters you might want to have some saddles handy.
Emergency: Should you have a chicken that has a wound on her back, a saddle can be helpful in protecting her while she heals. This is particularly beneficial if you are unable to segregate the wounded chicken. You will need to be watchful as this does not always work, but most often it can get a difficult situation under control .
How to make a quick n’ easy chicken saddle
My sewing machine was lost during one of our long cross country moves and I needed a saddle, quickly. I came up with a really sturdy saddle made from the pant leg of an old pair of jeans. It takes about fifteen minutes to make start to finish. There is very little sewing involved.
- Jeans with a leg width of 9″
- two pieces of 7″ long x 1/2 wide elastic
- needle/thread or sewing machine
Note: You can use any heavy fabric for this project. You want something quite durable.
Chicken Saddle Pattern
- Measure and cut off the bottom nine inches of the leg from an old pair of jeans.
- Take a marker, measure and mark off the shape as illustrated above.
- Cut out the pattern.
- Tuck one end of each piece of elastic in-between the top two pieces of denim, one at each corner, and secure tightly using a needle and thread.
- Take the other end of each elastic and position it on the lower part of the fabric. Measure 1″ from the edge and affix the elastic on both sides. If your fabric is narrower than 9″ you will want to move the elastic closer towards the edge to compensate.
Note: I have tried using strong Velcro and also snaps to make the straps adjustable but they don’t stay on quite as well.
Putting the chicken saddle on
The easiest time to adorn your chicken with the saddle is at dusk , when she is perched on the roost for the night. If you move quickly you can have her in your arms before she has realized what is happening. Once you have the hen securely held in your arms take a moment to sooth her before continuing.
Although it can be done with one, this task is easier with two people. While one of you holds the chicken the other can carefully slide the elastic strap through the wing and pull it over the body. You then take the chicken from the person holding it, and they can slide the other wing through the strap.
The chicken might peck at the straps for a few hours but they will become accustomed to wearing it.
If you would like to learn more about raising chickens you might be interested in our NEW e-book; The Homesteader’s Handbook: Raising Chickens.