Sunday, March 8, 2015

Chicken Saddle

There exists in the world an item called a "Chicken Saddle".  It consists of some fabric that rides on a chicken's back like a saddle, and is held in place by elastic bands under the wings.  Probably slightly uncomfortable, but hens tolerate them I've read.  The purpose is to protect a hen's back and let the feathers regrow if a rooster has mucked up her back while mounting her.  No roosters here, but for the past month, the other hens have plucked the feathers off a certain hen's back, despite my efforts to give them alternative entertainment, like cabbages hung from the roof of the henhouse.  This hen in question is at the bottom of the pecking order, a sweet Easter Egger who lays pretty pale pink eggs and just gets bossed around all the time.  Enough is enough, so I ordered a chicken saddle from the internet after attempting to make one myself that she promptly ripped off.  

The saddle came and I put it on her.  She was not pleased, and spent about 10 minutes trying to rip the thing off.  The other hens tried to peck her back and seemed puzzled that they couldn't get at any feathers.  So, the thing works, but I removed it, as the tighter she pulled on one elastic strap, the tighter the other one got round her wing.  I'll try again right before I give them some delicious treats that will take them awhile to eat and maybe distract her and hope she accepts the saddle until her feathers regrow.  Acceptance seems unlikely and I would prefer a naked back to her cutting off the circulation to a wing by ripping at the elastic straps.  If she refuses, I guess I'll have it on hand if anyone else wants to saddle up.  

"WTF is on my back?"
"I will rip this thing off me if it's the last thing I do"
"What's up girl?  I just tried to pluck a feather off your back and draw blood but all I got was a mouthful of fabric!"
"I don't care; get this thing off me!"
With only a few years of observing chicken behavior under my belt, I don't think the flock is going to maul her to death.  They are tired of winter, and their slightly smaller run, and their lack of fresh veggies and they are taking it out on her.  The pecking I have observed is very half-hearted.  But still, I'm sure it hurts, and it has been cold, and her back is naked!  So, come on spring!  If the chicken saddle won't help, I need the allure of daily fresh vegetables, interesting ground to scratch on, and an end to winter boredom to help her feathers regrow, which I am pretty confident they will with the changing of the seasons.

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