When two of your FB friends (who don’t know each other and live thousands of miles apart) post pictures on your wall of chicken sweaters; you know you might be a ‘crazy chicken lady.’ Before, I could say that those are “very cool and a little silly but that I’m not that far gone yet,” then I remember this time last year, I was.
Last year with four roosters and fifteen hens in a confined winter coop things got interesting for the ladies. Four roosters in one coop is too much for many reasons but mostly the fighting and the fu… the mating. The poor hens get what is called bareback, when all the feathers have been broken off due being mounted too much.
If the a feather is plucked out that root will grow a new one. If a feather is cut off leaving the quill inside, it will not. As far as the chicken’s body is concerned there is a feather there. This means that they will not grow back till they molt and they only molt once or twice a year.
This is a common problem, so common you can actually buy ‘chicken saddles’ that protect the hens. They are almost twenty bucks a pop and since I am not crazy enough to spend hundreds of dollars on chicken attire I decide I could make some of my own.
I kept the pattern simple but I did line them with a fuzzy blanket one of our dogs ate holes in. For the topsides I recycled the tie dye banners we made for our wedding.
I copied the basic shape of the products I saw online. I folded the top skinny part over to make a channel to string the elastic through and I decided to cross the elastics from one side to the other for more staying power.
This is one of my first, and after what felt like a thousand chicken fittings later and a couple minor adjustments to the general shape I had over a dozen fleece lined tie dye chicken saddles.
The elastic straps go over the chicken’s wings and the fabric sits high on their backs and under the wing feathers. I was pleasantly surprised how well they stayed put. Looking around at my flock of hippy chickens I had to admit this was a bit much even for me.
To my greater shock even my first attempt made it through the winter.
Into the springtime and through many dirt baths.
This winter our rooster ratio is much better and so far we have not encountered the same issue.
In my defense, I want to point out that I HAD to tie dye my hens for their own good. When temperatures are -20F˚exposed skin is no joke. However, I know that it is not really a mark in my favor if I am trying to prove that I am not a crazy chicken lady but I’m ok with that.
The trick to never taking yourself too seriously is to always have something like a flock of tie dye/fleece lined chickens around to explain. It will keep you grounded, believe me.