I just want to touch quickly on hen saddles. Or Hen aprons, or whatever you'd like to call them. I recently had to order a few for my girls. A hen saddle is a peice of cloth that covers the hens backs to protect them from the roosters claws during mating. Roosters stand on a hens back during mating and can damage the feathers and skin on the hens backs. Roosters generally have "favourite" hens, and you will eventually see more wear on them.
The saddle attaches to the hen by elastics that snap over the wings. They should be left on until the feathers have regrown.
They are usually made of a washable fabric, so if the get dirty you can just throw them in the wash. Also, you should get the correct measurements of your hens. If the saddle falls off, it was most likely too large.
I'm starting the process of integrating the mama hen and her chick into the flock. I want her to still want to be able to protect her chick from the rest of the flock. I've had the crate underneath the droppings board for a few days now. Tomorrow evening after all the birds go to bed, I'm going to move them into the crate. I plan on leaving them in the crate for a week or so before I open the door and see how things go.
Its been a few days. Yesterday I ran out of food, so I had to let the hens free range. Mama and chick were very upset by this, so I figured I'd let them out too. Everything went very well! The little fella got pecked in the head once or twice by one of the RIR girls, but settled in quite nicely with all the other birds. And when it was time for bed they went back inside their crate. So far, so good, I'd say!