This is the first year we’ve had heritage buckeye chickens, more than one rooster, and a new phenomenon – hens with bare backs. We have nineteen hens, and one rooster per every ten hens is recommended, so two roosters aren’t too many. Still, some of the buckeye hens are literally getting the feathers worn off their backs.
There are four of them with bare spots (it looks awful doesn’t it?); and although it doesn’t seem to bother them much, I’d like them to grow back their feathers – preferably before winter returns. And since their popularity doesn’t seem to be diminishing, that won’t happen unless we change something.
“Hen Saddles” are advertised in numerous places as protection for this condition, so we ordered one black and one brown standard size hen saddle;, and received some nicely constructed “garments”.
It’s difficult to tell in the picture, but these saddles are about 6 1/2″ wide x 8″ long. The way the elastic is constructed, it goes over the head and under the wing – to securely hold the saddle on the chicken. The idea is that the “saddle” will protect the hens from the roosters claws, and allow the feathers to regrow under the saddle.
It’s pretty easy getting the saddle on the hens, but they take awhile to get used to them. They try to back out of them, and end up backing around in circles – it’s pretty funny to watch. Once they’ve adjusted though, we’ve seen no negative impacts on the chickens we aring them.
Our friend Doris contructed some additional saddles for us based on the original “models”; and embroidered them too. When the roosters first saw these, they pecked at the “eyes” until they decided they were “safe”.
The hen with the black saddle has been wearing it the longest and upon first inspection; she does appear to be regrowing her feathers. So far, the hen saddles are a success for curing bare-back hens.