Those new to chicken-keeping may never have heard of a chicken saddle or chicken diaper, but if you keep chickens, chances are, you’re likely to need one sooner or later. Why would you ever need a saddle or diaper for a chicken? Good question.
A hen saddle is a piece of material that protects a chicken’s skin and feathers from damage due to rooster over-mating. During mating, a rooster stands on a hen’s back, holding her neck feathers with his beak and steadying himself with his feet. This activity, known as treading, can cause feather loss and skin injuries. An aggressive rooster, or one with a preference for a particular hen, may cause bald spots on a hen’s back and wings; these vulnerable areas can be protected with the use of a hen saddle.
When a chicken is injured in any way, the instinct of other chickens is to investigate the injury by pecking at the area, which can result in further injury and possibly, death. The general rule is that injured chickens should be removed from the flock until healed, but sometimes, the temporary use of a saddle to cover the area may be warranted.
Chicken diapers are used not only for house chickens, but for times when a chicken becomes house-bound due to a serious injury or illness and needs close supervision. The diapers provide the chicken-keeper with the option not to keep their pet penned-up in a crate or cage for the duration of their recovery. They are easy to put on, adjustable and have a waterproof liner in the pouch. The ‘V’ shape allows it to cup around the chicken’s tail to provide a good fit.
Some chickens take a little time to get used to the feel of the diapers and saddles, but they settle into them soon enough. Stella was funny to watch in the first few minutes of her test-drive though! Some keep a hen saddle and chicken diaper in their first aid kits.