Friday 31 July 2015

Ingrown Feathers in Chickens

Dealing with Ingrown Feathers
Our Silkie hen Farrah has an ongoing problem with ingrown feathers immediately below her vent (her rear exit to be clear).  It's been going on for at least 2 years now. I checked in with our Vet as to the course of action I am taking and she felt that they would do more or less the same thing if I brought Farrah in to the surgery.

I'm not going to use any pictures of Farrah's rear end here. Basically what it presents as is a large pea sized lump of skin that looks knobbly.  I feel that it interferes with Farrah passing her droppings as she seems to struggle (wobbling about and pushing hard) when the ingrown feathers are at their peak and then there is much less drama once the feathers have been cleared out. I don't know whether the regular build up of droppings in her rear feathers is at least partly due to her ingrown feather problem too, as perhaps she does not get enough force behind her droppings to push them out and away from herself. 

So this is how I deal with this problem. 
  1. I get her over our laundry trough and wash the area around her vent with comfortably warm, soapy water whilst I wear disposable gloves to remove any dirt. 
  2. I gently squeeze and rub the feathers with an old, clean towel to remove excess water. 
  3. I bundle Farrah up in an old, clean towel so her head is poking out and her tail is readily accessible. The towel is firm to help keep her still, I'd say a 7 out of 10 for firmness.  
  4. I have a cheap pair of tweezers with rounded (i.e. not pointy and sharp) ends. I tuck Farrah's head under my non-dominant arm so her head is poking out the back of my armpit. I then use my dominant hand to squeeze the lump with the tweezers. I find that the ingrown feathers begin to pop up to the surface with a few good squeezes. I then use the tweezers to pull out the feather particles. I keep going until I feel there is no more to get. 5 - 10 minutes would do the trick in this case. 
  5. This usually leaves the lump looking a bit mushy and there is usually a little (drop or two) of blood. I then wipe the lump with a clean tissue and Betadine disinfectant (very mild, does not sting).
I find I need to remove this process every 3 months or so. It's not very comfortable for her but I think the end justifies the means. Usually within 2 to 3 days she is healed up and much more comfortable. 

And I need to pay tribute to my beautiful girl Jewel who passed away on Wednesday evening.  The most robust and healthiest hen I have ever known.  We miss you.  We have one hen left now, Farrah which is really upsetting - for her especially as she is still looking for Jewel. See my next post for our plans to get her a companion - despite the ILT virus.