Blood feathers are new feathers that aren’t done growing in that have a direct blood supply. It’s the beginning of the feathers life, when new feathers come in they look like porcupine quills. They’re called pin feathers or blood feathers.
Growing new feathers is necessary for the chickens but not a comfortable venture so I try to leave them alone while it’s going on. You’ll notice it in older birds during the fall when they molt.
Young birds go through an almost constant cycle of new feathers. Aside from looking very strange it’s completely normal and nothing to worry about.
Unless those feathers break. In my experience it’s the large wing and tail feathers that are most likely to get damaged and break.
When they break they’ll bleed all over. You chicken probably isn’t going to bleed to death but a broken blood feather can have fatal consequences.
Chickens are assholes. They will eagerly pick a flock mate to death. They’re basically sharks when it comes to blood.
If you notice a bleeding feather it’s worth catching the bird and taking car of it. These are all pictures of a Muscovy duck with a few broken blood feathers in her wing.
Luckily it’s a very easy fix. All you need to do is pull out the feather. Once the tube holding the pore (follicle?) open is removed the bird will stop bleeding.
It’s easy to do with a pair of pliers but I’ve pulled them out with my fingernails in a pinch.
Hold the bird securely, press down around the feather with one hand and use the other to remove the feather. Grip the bleeding feather with the pliers by the base and pull straight out.
I recommend following up with a spray or two of Blu-kote to cover any remaining blood. Especially if you have a light colored bird.
Blu-kote is a purple antiseptic spray. It will turn you and anything it touches purple so take care when using it. It won’t hurt you but you’ll look like you high-fived a smurf for a week or so.
The duck was more upset by the snuggles than the feather removal.
Broken feathers can happen while fighting or if the birds get caught in something. I used to have my turkeys in a pen with a wire side and they had lots of broken feathers.
It turned out they were rubbing their wings against the wire and breaking the feathers.
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Wednesday 2nd of November 2022
I have a 7 year old hen that molted and then the “casing” never sloughed off the new blood feathers on her tail (so they look like really long porcupine quills with a tiny feather poking out of the top of each one). Should I be worried? Should I try to manually take the outside of it off (the quill part)? It’s been 3 weeks.
Friday 11th of November 2022
Is she having any trouble with the feathers? It's odd that they haven't opened up yet, does she have access to a dust bath?
I have helped my parrot with his pins in hard to reach areas by gently rubbing them between my fingers, you could try that with your chicken if she'll let you
Saturday 27th of August 2022
Hello, I was wondering if it is normal for there to be puss at the end of the “blood feathers” I guess you call it? My silkie rooster has a dried puss spot on his skin in the middle of his tail feathers. I was trying to get a better look and accidentally pulled a blood feathers out, and there was puss and black stuff at the end. I noticed that there were a bunch more like that and just started plucking! He didn’t budge while I did all of this, and all of the ones I plucked had puss in the follicle or “tube”! I also should mention that he recently was attacked by my other silkie rooster( which is now gone) and is now almost fully recovered! I have applied vetericyn to the area, and now have no clue what to do.
Tuesday 30th of August 2022
The ends of the feathers usually look gooey, especially if they're very early in their growth cycle. When I've had to pull broken feathers in the past I've found that the birds are more bothered by being handled/restrained than they are from the plucking
Once the damaged feathers are gone there shouldn't be any more bleeding and they will be replaced the next time the bird molts
Friday 15th of July 2022
My problem is where the rooster hurt her pecking and mating feathers are covered in dry blood could someone help
Sunday 17th of July 2022
I would separate her from the rest of the birds, give her a bath to remove the dried blood and figure out where it is coming from. If it's a cut on the skin spray with blukote (the color hides any redness that will attract pecking) or vetericyn (you'd need to keep her alone until it heals if you go this route)
Sunday 25th of July 2021
My silkie cross broke a small blood feather on her foot, the side of it. I removed it with no problem, and I used a wet paper towel to clean up the blood that came out as a result. I’m not too worried about the other chickens pecking the wound, since it’s pretty well hidden by the other feathers surrounding it. I’m mostly worried about it getting infected somehow. Should I put something like cornstarch on it, or a powder to help clotting, or just leave it be? I don’t have any Blu-Kote, so I don’t really have any other idea on what to do. This is my first time encountering a broken blood feather, and I’m kind of put off by how much blood my chicken bled, knowing how little birds have blood.
Monday 26th of July 2021
If you pulled out the feather and it stopped bleeding it should be ok and heal up on its own. They do bleed a lot but I've never had any issues with broken feathers that weren't caused by other birds. If you're worried you can keep her separated for the day and make sure she has access to lots of good food and water
Sunday 16th of May 2021
I have a question. I have some Pekin ducklings and they are beginning to grow their primary feathers. One of the ducklings seems to preen them a little bit aggressive and sometimes they bleed a bit, just on her wings where the blood feathers are coming in. Is this normal? It isn’t all of the time just sometimes when she really gets going with cleaning herself. I took a close look and nothing is broken just bleeds a bit.
Wednesday 19th of May 2021
@Sara Evoy, I've never had that happen, or at least I've never noticed it because I usually have dark-colored ducks. If the other birds aren't attacking the blood and she's not having any issues I'd leave her alone. The feathers only bleed when they're growing in, when they're fully in they stop having a blood supply.