All About Preening

June 18, 2014

Preening. It usually starts on the chest…


then systematically moves down the body. Sometimes the entire head disappears inside all that fluff!
Feathers can appear ruffled from preening.


A quick chicken shake and the feathers return to their position.
Preening is a natural way chickens clean themselves in addition to a good dust bath. In fact, these habits begin as baby chicks. Chickens preen themselves to help release new feathers from their sheaths, remove bugs and pest, and add oil to their feathers to keep them in good condition. Doing this with the oil also helps to keep their feathers somewhat water resistant in rain.Watch closely. Every so often, you will see your chicken tuck their beak in by their tail. They are getting a drop of oil for their feather from the uropygial gland that sits on top of their tail.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest



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9 thoughts on “All About Preening”

  1. Oh wow I knew what is was called but not about that gland. Cool. I have a chicken who has all her feathers missing on her underside. I just checked her out today and noticed. I wonder if she is getting ready to go broody. I did not see any signs of mites or bugs. Hmm.

  2. I remember the first time I saw my chicken nibbling on her preen gland. I thought it was an ingrown feather. I was convinced. I really almost hauled her into the vet to have it looked at. Could you imagine how embarrassing that would have been? Thank goodness for blogs like this and images on the web.

  3. Hello!
    I am new in chickens, and I was wondering what was all preening about. Bugs? Lack of protein? I checked my baby chicks several times and could not find nothing, so stressing, until I found your blog, I feel relieved. Thank you.

    • Preening is simply a way that chickens keep clean. They will keep their feathers in top shape this way. You will see preening mostly following a good dust bath. No need to worry. So happy that I was able to help.

  4. I have a polish rooster who I help with preening his head full of thin feathers. Is there a special comb I can but to help me with this process?


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.