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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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