Is it cannibalism if you’re eating yourself?

The good news is that Buffy is getting better. The bad news is that Buffy is getting better.

Since I released her back into the world of the naked, she has been much happier. She has also been much busier…picking at herself. Yes, the bandage covers the worst of the damage, but this hasn’t stopped her from feather picking herself on the good side of her tail. Her artful comb-over hid this fact until yesterday afternoon, when I realised her butt was BARE on the left side. Which would explain the feathers I’ve been finding in the crate. Sigh.

So, she needed something to keep her honest, but the dresses were irritating her. I first though to modify a chicken diaper (yes, an actual real thing), thinking it would look something like a diaper for human babies, and I could, paradoxically, cut out a hole for her to poop through. Easy peasy, right?

Except that it turns out chicken diapers bear less resemblance to a human baby diaper than they do to a horse’s feed bag, just strapped onto the other end, to manage the opposite end of the digestive cycle:

(Please remember, gentle reader, that I am not anywhere near creative enough to make this shit up.)

Okay. Not chicken diapers. What about a chicken saddle? Yes, also a real thing, used for bareback hens with overenthusiastic roosters:

Or for chickens going through a bad molt:


Okay, he/she needs to be stopped. That’s just WRONG.

My need was immediate and my budget low, so I turned to a great DIY page, dug up an old shirt that had belonged to The Man, the waistband of a pair of fuzzy pants outgrown by Stepdaughter the Younger, and set to work.

Yes, gentle reader, I sewed a garment for a chicken. By hand. I think this puts me in a whole new place. (I can hear you, Gail, and yes, you still need to be collecting turkey feathers; this changes nothing.) It was GORGEOUS. Why “was”? Read on, MacDuff…

Buffy went to bed naked, sleeping on her egg. When I uncovered the crate this morning, I found feathers inside. Sigh. Upon closer inspection, I found that the feathers were still attached to skin, about two inches of it, which Buffy had peeled off herself. Now, I’m going to show it to you, so please prepare yourself for the fact that you may never eat chicken skin again:

Clearly, Buffy can not be allowed to be naked any longer. I got out her new saddle, crisp white cotton with plus fuchsia straps, looking so much like a cape that I found myself longing for an iron-on decal of Superman’s symbol. Buffy took one look at it and gave me the sideways stink eye.

Here’s the thing. When I cut up the waistband last night, the pieces were  5″ long, and the pattern calls for them to be 5.5″, with snaps on the ends. So, I thought to myself: I know! I’ll just sew both ends of the straps to the cape, and slip her wings through the loops! It’ll be long enough that way, and I don’t have snap, in any event.

Yeah. No.

See, feathers are definitely uni-directional, and I was going the wrong way. On top of that, the loops were too tight. I wasn’t pretty. After Buffy spent some time in the courtyard with her sisters pecking at it, I decided cut the straps to get it of her, and go back to the drawing board.

In the meantime, she’s in a new dress, donated by Wendy last weekend. She is unhappy.


4 thoughts on “Is it cannibalism if you’re eating yourself?

  1. Just curious about your overall experience with the chicken saddles. (Sorry to read about your loss of Buffy in another post.)
    I’ve got a girl who started pulling her own feathers out. I think. I’ve never seen her do it, and I’ve never seen the other girls pick on her… she’s the the leader of the flock.
    Anyway, I’ve got a pattern, will probably make it a little longer in the tail end to cover her bald spot just above the tail feathers like in your picture. (She hasn’t torn any skin off, at least!). I used to be quite a seamstress and have plenty of fabric, elastic, snaps, etc. — it’ll probably take me longer to clean all the crap off the top of my sewing machine than it will to actually sew it.

    • I only ever used it on Buffy after the dog attack. Her wound was of a size and location that she could still get at it, even with the saddle. I had the greatest luck, in her case, with the cut up doll dresses. The saddles are meant to protect hens from rosters, to protect their backs.

      Is your girl pulling out belly feathers? I saw that behaviour when Buffy and Abby went broody last year. They do it to increase skin contact with the eggs.

      • She’s plucked the feathers at the base of her back, right above her tail. Looks like she’s pulling them out on either side of her butt, too, as they are a little thin there. No roosters here, but I was thinking a saddle might keep her from pulling them out. Otherwise she’s in perfect health.

        Keeping chickens has certainly been an adventure!

      • That’s a new one on me…if there’s redness, you might want to consider a spray of Blu-Kote to discourage the other girls from joining in. If you do make a saddle, it will have to be longer than the pattern. I’d recommend the doll’s dress.

        Keep me posted.

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