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Broken Blood Feathers – Chicken First Aid

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.

pulled blood feathers broken wing 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.

juvenile chicken with pin feathers

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.

removing broken blood feather

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.

removing broken blood feather

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.

broken blood feather removal

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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Denarius Mcquimberton

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.

Alecia

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

Sara Evoy

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.

Alecia

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.

Robynne Catheron

Sunday 4th of March 2018

Doesn't pulling out a feather hurt like hell? Any idea if Quick-stop (styptic powder for dogs) would work to stop the bleeding?

Alecia

Sunday 4th of March 2018

I'm sure it's not comfortable but they don't scream or fight. They go right back to very important chicken business once it's over.

Applying a powder will take longer and probably stress the animal more. You are also risking the feather bleeding again if they injure it again.