How Many Feathers Does a Chicken Have? More Than A Turkey!

down feather How Many Feathers Does a Chicken Have?

This is a good question since not all birds have the same number of feathers. The average chicken has between 8,000 and 10,000 feathers that cover its body from head to toe. Turkeys have only 5,000 to 6,000 even though they are larger birds,

Depending on breed and age, a single chicken can have up to 18 different feather types.

The six main feather types are contour, flight, down, semiplume, filoplume, and bristle. These feathers provide various functions, such as insulation and enabling chickens to fly short distances when necessary.


What Kind of Feathers Do Chickens Have?

To break it down a little further, chickens have a variety of different feather types which serve different purposes.

The most common six types are:

  1. contour feathers which cover the majority of the body and provide some protection from the elements
  2. flight feathers which grow on wings and help them take off
  3. down feathers, which provide insulation
  4. semiplumes which contain both contour-like barbs and down-like filaments
  5. filoplumes which allow for greater flexibility
  6. …and bristles which aid in protection from predators.

The 6 types of feathers can be further subdivided into 18. Who knew there were so many classifications?!

How Are Chickens Plucked in Factories?

Unless you are a vegetarian, this is part of the process of getting the birds from farm to plate. Eating a feathered chicken is not a pleasant prospect! Though, of course, it has been done (see video)>

In large poultry factories, chickens are plucked by either hand or machine methods. Hand plucking usually involves workers pulling out each feather individually with their hands or using tweezers. This is more common in homes and small businesses — especially in poorer areas and countries.

Machine plucking is faster as it can remove entire patches of feathers with pneumatic vacuums or rubber fingers that grab hold of multiple layers of feathers at once. Machine plucking is more common in big operations.

Both methods result in the same number of feathers being removed from the birds’ bodies.

Do Chicken Feathers Grow Back?

Yes! A chicken’s feathers will grow back.

They can lose or damage their feathers due to various factors, such as:

  • molting
  • injury caused by predators
  • fighting amongst themselves

Molting is a natural process where old feathers are shed to make way for new growth. It takes about three months for a chicken’s new set of feathers to fully develop after molting begins.

This varies depending on breed, age, nutrition levels, and other factors affecting growth rate.

Part of the reason some birds have long tail feathers is so that predators will get a mouthful of feathers rather than flesh when they grab a bird from behind. Tail feathers can also be decorative and for attracting a mate, such as with peacocks. In either case, it is important for birds to be able to grow back for survival’s sake.

What Are Chicken Feathers Used For?

Chicken feathers have many uses outside of providing protection and insulation for chickens themselves! They are used as

  • components within quilts for warmth (down feathers)
  • decorative pieces within crafts (flight feathers)
  • cushioning material inside pillows (down feathers)
  • dusters (bristle feathers)
  • and even recycled into bioplastics for use as packaging material (filoplumes).

Which Chicken Breed Has The Softest Feathers?

Choosing a chicken with the softest feathers comes down to two breeds, but many agree that the Silkie or Brahma chickens are the best options when it comes to feather softness.

Silkie chickens have extra-soft pinfeathers, and their plumage is noticeably silky to the touch.

Brahma chickens also have very soft feathers that are both dense and plush, making them great for tucking under for warmth.

Although both chickens offer beautiful soft feathers, many find that the silkie chickens are the ultimate and the most desirable due to their unique fluffy appearance.

In Summary

So, there you have it… everything you could possibly want to know about the number of chicken feathers, and more. We hope this article has been helpful in expanding your knowledge on the subject.

Chickens are fascinating birds with a large variety of breeds, each having a distinct plumage. Whether you are interested in chickens as pets, for breeding, or for egg production, it is good to know about feathers as they are one of the most important parts of their anatomy.

Photo by Linus Mimietz on Unsplash