Frozen chicken feathers....ummm, hair?

This is one of those things that you never even fathom happening till it happens in your coop! Frozen chicken 'hair'. Or topknots. Or just call them feathers....either way when temps hit zero or below, suddenly a little wet hair is a big deal! Frozen head feathers are especially a problem on birds with big hairdos like Silkies and Polish. 

frozen chicken feathers, ice

Yes, those are ice drops frozen to the ends of her feathers! I noticed the problem last week when temps were in the negatives here in Western Pennsylvania. It mainly happened in the Silkie coop. The birds would lean down to drink water and their head feathers would dip into the water. 

This happens year round, however it's only a hazard in the winter. In the winter the wet feathers freeze. Frozen feathers are never a good thing! The solution was simple though...just trim the feathers!

frozen silkie chicken hair

Frozen chicken feathers


Youngest son held the birds while I gave their hairdos a quick trimming. Since feathers have no nerves or blood supply past the quill, it's safe to trim the ends. Just be careful not to trim the quills! It's kind of like when you trim a chickens nails, just stay away from the blood supply and you'll be in the right place!

A few of the roosters needed beard trims also. Feathers tend to wick the water toward the body and the last thing we need is for our birds to get wetter and colder then the should be....especially in this polar vortex weather! A simple trim won't hurt and they might even be thrilled to find that they can suddenly see better.

Of course they look a little silly, but it will grow back in spring!

Clipping feathers on a chickens head

I've noticed less of a problem with the red and white plastic drinkers than with bowls of water. However, the water trough in those will freeze at very low temperatures, so the big heated dog bowls are often the best bet in winter. Of course, then the chickens hairdos and beards can get in the water! It's sort of a 'try it and see what works for your flock' situation. 

Related reading: How to keep your chickens water from freezing in winter.

Keep warm!

~Lisa

Want information on raising chickens sent right to your email weekly? Click right here to join my list and get new posts sent directly to you the day they're published ... plus, you'll also get the free download '25 Ways to save money raising chickens'.

6 comments:

  1. Poor baby! Do you have to cut those feathers off or just wait for the thaw?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just cut them off icicles and all! I don't show my birds so I don't have to worry about keeping their crests in perfect shape. They seemed much happier without those little ice cubes hanging from their heads!

      ~L

      Delete
  2. Poor sweeties! This winter has been so brutal. I'm glad your chickens are making do. Visiting from Tilly's Nest blog-hop.
    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it has! They're doing much better now!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~L

      Delete
  3. Hey, thanks for this post! We've got one fluffy-headed Sultan, who, in the past 48 hours, became a pathetic tinkling mess. The clacking attracted the other hens, who started pecking at her head until she was bald on top, with icicles hanging in front of her eyes, making her blind. I was debating if I needed to thaw her out in order to cut the feathers, but was worried that going from warm to cold to warm again would just add to her stress. Your post gave me confidence that I could just cut the ice right out. Now she's all trimmed up, and looks totally ridiculous, but much happier! She bolted for the water dish, delighted to see it, and the others seem to be leaving her alone now. Yay! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no, poor girl! I bet she feels much better now! It'll grow back in by spring and she'll be back to her normal fluffy headed cuteness. Glad I could help!

      ~L

      Delete