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    Chicken Saddle DIY (Free Pattern)

    A chicken saddle is a protective guard for hens to cover their back during mating. Roosters aren’t gentle lovers. They grab the hen’s feathers with full force. Often, this results in the hen having a complete bald spot on her back.

    Let’s take a closer look at chicken saddles, why they work, and how you can make a hen saddle yourself.

    Just looking for the chicken saddle pattern? Find it in the download section.

    What is a Chicken Saddle?

    A chicken saddle is a protective fabric shield that safeguards a hen’s feathers from the claws of a rooster during mating. It’s attached with elastics around the chicken’s feathers. The rooster uses it as a saddle to ride on the hen’s back.

    It is by no means just a trenchcoat to keep the chicken warm. Nor is it a means to transform the chicken run into a fashion catwalk.

    Why do people use a Chicken Saddle?

    When a rooster mounts on a hen’s back, it grasps her feathers with his beak and claws. He pulls out the feathers of the back. The mating process can be pretty terrifying if you’ve never witnessed it. The hens are crawling on the ground. At least it doesn’t take long, but the damage is done.

    After a while, the chicken will end up with a complete bald spot on her back. Without the protection of the feather deck, the rooster will grasp the hen’s skin, which is very painful for the chicken. Bald skin is also exposed to direct sunlight, which can cause sunburns.

    That’s why people use a chicken saddle to provide an extra layer of protection.

    When to use a Chicken Saddle?

    Use a chicken saddle whenever you see some bald spots or feather loss on your hens. If this results from mating or pecking, a chicken apron can help. Feather loss usually starts on the tail.

    However, feather loss can also be the result of molting. During the molt, a hen is renewing its plumage, and it’s normal to have feather loss and bald spots here and there. Molting is usually around fall. A hen saddle will not help for molting. Check our molting care guide for appropriate care.

    Problems typically arise when:

    It’s best to install the chicken saddle before hens start to lose feathers. If you see some bald spots, give them some extra layer of protection.

    In nature, chickens don’t have protection. There is typically enough space and hens available for each rooster. But nature can be cruel.

    Are Hen Saddles necessary?

    No, a chicken saddle is not always necessary. It’s only needed to protect the hen from suffering. You probably don’t need a saddle if you don’t have a rooster. But if you have and you see bald spots on your hen, a chicken saddle is necessary to prevent suffering.

    How to Make a Chicken Saddle

    It’s pretty easy to sew your own chicken apron, even if you don’t have much sewing experience.

    You will need:

    • some fabric from old clothes, left-overs from a quilting-supply store, or fat quarters with a print you like
    • essential quilting tools like scissors, rulers, needles, and pins
    • elastic band
    • a sewing machine
    • our chicken saddle sewing pattern
    Chicken Saddle Prerequisites: pattern, old clothes for fabric and elastics

    A word of warning about the print: don’t go wild with red colors and striking patterns. This might pique the interest of other chickens, and they can start pecking the saddle. It’s better to use a neutral color or a design that blends with the chicken’s feathering pattern.

    We’ll go over the entire process step by step. Most of it is straightforward, but some details are interesting to know before starting.

    Cut the Fabric and the Chicken Saddle Pattern

    If you start from some old clothes, cut some proper parts to use for the saddle. We’re using some old shorts here.

    Cut the fabric

    Fold the pattern in half to create two symmetrical parts.

    Fold chicken saddle pattern in half

    There are two saddles printed on the chicken saddle template: medium (M) and large (L). In this case, we are cutting out the large one. Cut on the line.

    Cut the chicken saddle pattern in half so it's symmetrical

    Now, fold the fabric and place the template on the fold. Draw the seam allowance on the fabric with a marker or soap.

    Mark the seam allowance of the pattern

    Now cut out the fabric on the marker with the fabric still folded. This way, you have a completely symmetric hen saddle.

    Make sure to attach both sides first, so they stay together while cutting.

    Cut out the fabric for the first part of the saddle

    For the second piece of fabric, don’t repeat the entire process. Cut out the second part by using the first template as an example. That way, you are sure they are exactly the same size.

    Cut out the second part of the saddle

    The result of this step is two identical pieces of the saddle. Feel free to cut out some extra filling to make the harness more sturdy. If your fabric is light, it can sometimes curl up on the chicken’s back.

    Two parts of fabric that make up the chicken saddle

    Now let’s go to the sewing machine.

    Sewing the elastics

    We sew the elastics so they will end up inside the saddle. It looks prettier, and it prevents any damage from having the elastic ends on the outside, where the rooster’s claws are.

    First, mark the elastics using the chicken saddle pattern as a template.

    Mark the attachment points of the elastics on the saddle

    Cut an elastic at length and sew it on the backside of the fabric. Only sew the outer attachment points and leave the middle open. In the picture above, we will stitch only the lower marker. The elastic needs to move freely in the part of the neck. Make sure to sew on the backside.

    This might look a bit counterintuitive, but everything checks out when we will turn the project later on.

    It should look like this:

    Sew the elastic on the inside of the saddle so that it ends up on the outside when turning the project

    Sewing the outline and turning the project

    Now sew the outline using the backsides of the fabric, so the saddle is inside out. Use your sewing machine as a guide for the seam allowance you marked earlier. The pattern calls for 1/2″ or 3/4″, but this ain’t a personalized prom dress, so feel free to use whatever suits you the best.

    Sew the outline of the chicken saddle

    Leave the neck open as indicated on the pattern. Go back and forth on the ends to strengthen the stops of the sewing line.

    Open neck of the chicken saddle

    Turn around your whole project through the gap on the top. That way, the good sides of the fabric end up on the outside together with the elastic.

    Turning the entire chicken saddle project around

    Straighten out the seams of the fabric by pulling them out.

    Pull out the seams of the saddle

    Sewing the neck and finishing

    To finish the neck, seal the fabric by sewing both parts together.

    Sew the neck for a proper finish

    Fold the fabric around the elastic, so it can freely move around. This will help when you install the saddle and you need to put the chicken’s wings through.

    The elastic wil end up in the fold of the neck

    Sew right next to the elastic.

    Closing the fold of the neck

    We are using a catch-stitch to sew these parts together.

    Using a cross-stitch on the sewing machine

    The result looks like a cross-stitch on the back of the chicken.

    Result of the cross-stitch on the back of the saddle

    The result is a chicken saddle where you can freely move the elastic from left to right.

    Moving the elastic of the chicken saddle from lef to right

    The final result should look something like this.

    Home Made Chicken Saddle

    We gift-wrapped it as a gift for our hens.

    Gift wrapped chicken saddle

    Now it’s your turn. Good luck! We’d love to hear from you, tag us on Instagram!

    Free Printable Chicken Saddle Pattern

    Feel free to download, use and share our chicken saddle pattern template as much as you want.

    Chicken saddle and chicken saddle pattern

    This is what the chicken saddle looks like. Tag us on Instagram with your finished projects!

    Chicken Saddle Pattern (Printable PDF)

    • cut two parts
    • sew elastics on the inside
    • sew backside 1/2″ or 1/4″ seam allowance, leave top open
    • turn project
    • fold-sew neck around elastic
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