Friday, October 1, 2010

Bleeding Feather Shaft on Molting Rooster

I've been back home again less than a day and sure enough, a chicken incident occurs.  I mentioned yesterday the chickens are going through their first molt and Leggy, my white Leghorn cockerel, is down to 2 long tail feathers.  I posted a picture of him on the blog yesterday that I took that morning and he looked fine in that picture.  Then, yesterday afternoon, I went out to check on the chickens, give them treats, and collect eggs.  And I couldn't help but notice Leggy's back was all bloody, especially right where his tail feathers come in.  I immediately thought maybe he was attacked by a hawk, but as a watched, he turned his head around and pecked at HIMSELF.  He pecked his back several times while I watched.  Ugh, what a cannibal.  I know chickens will peck at things they don't understand. I'm glad I found him when I did.

So I went through the painful process of catching him and got a better look at him.  He had large clots of blood all over his back.  It was coming from a large blood feather that was missing and the feather shaft was opened where blood was flowing out. It wasn't clotting in the least bit, and he was a bloody mess.  His beak was all bloody from him pecking himself. 

I calmed Leggy down, because at this point he was hysterical from being chased and caught.  I put him in the house in a covered fish tank and covered it with dark towels.  He eventaully calmed down and went to sleep for about an hour.  When Randy got home we inspected him again.  The feather stopped bleeding since he wasn't pecking it anymore.  We bathed his rear end in the kitchen sink and cleaned off all the old blood, but this caused the blood feather to start bleeding again. 

Leggy right after his bath

We put some liquid band-aid on the bleeding feather shaft to stop the bleeding.  It was all that we had in the house.  And we put Leg in the coop with the other chickens, as it was dark and everyone else was sleeping by then.

This morning poor Leg is confined to his own chicken coop away from everyone else.  I am keeping a close eye on him to ensure the feather doesn't start bleeding badly again.  Hopefully he doesn't start pecking himself again.  From what I read, it can take a few weeks for a new blood feather to grow in.  I guess we are somehow going to have to keep a close eye on Leg for the next few weeks.  Once I'm sure it wont bleed anymore I'll release him to be with the flock.  Today I'll look for something to control bleeding better than liquid band aid. 

Has anyone else ever had molting issues like this?  Any recommendations? 


Verde Farm said...

I am still just learning about chickens and we haven't seen this yet in our flock but I honestly didn't know there was a blood I am so sorry for poor Leggy. Did the liguid bandage work? Pretty good idea if you ask me. You are a good chicken momma!
Amy ~:>-

Razzberry Corner said...

Hi Amy - The liquid bandage worked last night. Online I read that you can use super glue to close the feather shaft, but I couldn't find any in the house. I only could find liquid band aid, and if it didn't work last night I was going to have to make a drug-store run. Luckily it worked!

The blood feather shaft is an open blood vessel that provides blood to the large growing feathers. Once the feather comes in and matures the blood in the shaft recedes and the feather becomes a normal feather which is hollow inside. Somehow one of Leg's blood feather shafts was broken, causing it to bleed. I read that's a problem with those big feathers, they won't stop bleeding. And once a chicken starts bleeding, other chickens will peck at the blood, making the wound worse. I learned that firsthand when a chick lost half it's wing last year!

Hey, at least I had 3 weeks with no chicken problems when I was away from home!


CeeCee said...

Birds do not have clotting factors like humans.
Call your vet and swing by to pick up some Quick Stop. It's the same thing our daddies used to use when them cut themselves shaving.

I hope he's better today. They don't like baths, do they? :)

AJ-OAKS said...

My first thought to protect him from pecking himself was to put one of those hen aprons on him. Who says it is just for girls! :)
Years ago one of our dogs sliced open is paw ( which of course was at night) and I put Liquid Bandage on it). That stuff works great.
Also if you don't have Qwik Stop, you can use flour or cornstarch in emergencies.
Very happy you are back.

Razzberry Corner said...

CeeCee - It was almost impossible to catch Leggy - he goes into a maximum panic mode. Once I caught him he was calm, although he was shaking from being so scared during the catching session. He is very calm when he's in our arms - I used to hold him alot when he was a chick. He was limp during the bath. But I've bathed Raspberry before, and she didn't like it one bit! There was nothing calm about her when she was in the sink!

Thanks for the info about the Quick Stop! I will get some!

Cindy - Lol, I thought about the aprons, too. I checked, we don't have any large enough for Leg, otherwise he'd be wearing one! And I'd have to get a picture of that!! :)

Thanks for the info about flour or cornstarch, I have both of them in the kitchen!


Knatolee said...

Styptic powder to stop the bleeding? That's what I use when I cut a dog claw too close. You can usually get it at a pet store. I find it's great for making blood clot.

I knew nothing about blood feathers! I will have to read up on that.

Terry said...

Poor Leggy! I've been out of town and am catching up on blogs, so his problem might be resolved by now, but if not, John Grey at is a real expert on fowls.

Robin said...

How interesting. I would have never thought about using liquid bandaid. I'm glad that it worked.