Tag Archives: learning from mistakes

Feather Cysts

One of the issues that we’ve been dealing with this past month or so has been feather cysts. Jovi, our white crested black Polish, is our first crested chicken that we’ve ever had. Back in the fall he was attacked by another rooster that we had tried to keep. (Needless to say we found the other rooster a new home.) After the attack, I didn’t dare pull out all of the broken feathers in Jovi’s crest as I didn’t want him completely bald for the winter. I took a gamble and left them in there.

The problem with gambling is that there’s always the possibility of a bad outcome. In this case, it was feather cysts. A feather cyst is like an ingrown hair on a bird, only it’s a feather not a hair.


Feather cysts normally form when a broken feather shaft is left in and blocks the new feather from emerging. Sometimes the broken feather will fall out and let the new ones work through, but it’s a rare occurrence.

There are a few different ways to treat feather cysts. The first step that we had to take was to remove all the broken feathers that were left in hopes of avoiding another cyst.

The next three days we used a carbon paste to pull at much of the puss from the wound as possible. We also pricked it open with a pin to drain the puss. On the fourth day there was a scab that we were able to peel off to reveal the feather underneath. I didn’t take any photos of it, but after I pulled out everything from the cyst, and full feather measured about an inch long.

He’s had two more cysts since then, but both we’ve been able to pop and let come out on their own. This one was by far the worse. While I feel awful that he had to go through that, it was a great learning experience for us and now we know how to stop them before they start.

Spring Prep Mistake #1: The Chicken Feeder

Last fall we didn’t do such a good job winterizing the chicken tractors that the girls had spent the summer in before becoming free rangers. (Since we were both working days at the time, we wanted to girls to not be locked in the coop all day, thus the chicken tractors.) With spring around the corner and broiler birds on the horizon, I decided I would start checking out the tractors and working on them little by little to prep them.

One of them is still frozen in the ground. I cleaned what shavings were left from last year, gave it a quick once over, and called it good. The larger of the two will need a bit of love. The door’s falling off and one of the boards is popping off the back, but it’s definitely fixable. I was able to prop it up on bricks to get it up off the ground as it wasn’t frozen in. Where things were wrong came next…

Apparently we left a feeder with a cup or two of food in it. As the tractor was closed up, squirrels weren’t able to take the food and empty the feeder for us. The food in the feeder had been there since about August of last year…

It was disgusting and rancid. I dunked the feeder in the stream to wash out as much as I could. Then I had what I thought would be a bright idea.

Finishing washing the rotting chicken feed out in the bathtub. Which is in our bathroom. Which is in our house. Which we still can’t open all the windows in yet because it’s not warm enough out.

Needless to say, but bathroom reeked afterwards. It smelled as though someone had decided to dump an entire pile of rotting chicken manure in the room. (By the way, I now understand why non-free-ranging chicken poo reeks.)

Thanks to the all natural shower cleaner we use, out home now smells like a giant thyme bush is growing in the bathroom.

It’s a much better smell.