Chickens with Feathered Feet

The development of feathers on chickens’ feet is scientifically termed “ptilopody,” which has also been colloquially referred to as “feathered shank,” a genetic trait that evolved parallel to pigeons of all birds. Not all birds have the same type of fuzz on their feet – some have feathers covering much of their feet so that their toes are not visible (Cochin). In contrast, some have plumage extending from their toes to the leg joints (Brahma). Regardless, there are several chickens with feathered feet to choose from.

Chickens with Feathered Feet

List of Chickens with Feathers on Feet

  • Barbu d’Uccle
  • Booted Bantam
  • Brahma
  • Cochin
  • Croad Langshan
  • Faverolle
  • Frizzle
  • Malaysian Serama
  • Marans
  • Pekin
  • Silkie
  • Sultan

How Do Chickens Benefit from Having Feathered Feet

The main benefit provided by having feathers on their feet is insulation. Typically, birds, including chickens, isolate the blood flow to their feet to prevent freezing. Feathered feet add extra protection during winter.

Problems of Chickens with Fluffy Feet

Unfortunately, the problems of having feathers on chicken’s feet far outweigh the benefits. Notable issues faced by feather-footed chickens include:

  • An increased vulnerability to leg mites – While all chicken breeds are susceptible to mites that burrow underneath the scales of their feet, these mites are especially problematic for birds with feathered feet. The mites are more easily able to infect the birds in the places where the feathers emerge, while the feathers make detection of an infection complicated until much later.
  • Mud becomes challenging to manage – Free-ranging chickens will come into contact throughout the year. Chickens with scaly feet track less mud than those with plumage on their toes, as the feathers will retain more dirt. This leads to an unhygienic environment as the mud will be present in the coop, the nests, and, most importantly, the eggs.
  • Ingrown feathers, i.e., when scales grow over the feet feathers – This one is pretty self-explanatory. Sometimes, scales develop on top of feathers that are about to or have emerged. This can lead to the development of infections.
  • Frostbite (despite the insulation) – If you read the section before this, this may be a surprise. How could the feathers that provide extra heat to the feet not stop them from freezing over? The issue is related to slush and mud, which can get trapped in the plumage. The water will then freeze over the feet, leading to the birds developing frostbite.

Also, while not directly related to having feathers on their feet, these chickens are more susceptible to “picking,” i.e., a behavior where chickens pluck their own or each other’s feathers. This can lead to a high susceptibility to bloody legs and infections.

Caring for a Chicken with Feathered Feet

They must be carefully managed if you want chickens like the Brahma and the Cochin. Their feet need to be regularly checked and cleaned with warm water and magnesium sulfate to remove mud, trapped water, and scale casings.

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