Each afternoon as your chickens get ready for bed, they will congregate and start picking through their feathers with their beaks. They are preening.
Preening is a way chickens clean themselves. They pick out old feathers and release new ones, clean bugs off their skin, and oil their feathers.
You didn’t know chickens oil their feathers? Yep, they have a small oil gland at the tip of their tail.
Watch as your chickens preen – when their heads disappear into their feathers and poke around by their tail, they are getting a drop of oil on their beak to spread through their feathers!
The oil helps keep their feathers healthy and also acts as a water repellent. This lets them scratch around in the rain without getting wet and cold.
Here’s what preening looks like:
Preening, along with dust bathing, is a natural way for your birds to stay clean and healthy. So make sure they have space to gather, roll around in the dirt, and pick themselves clean.
You’ll have a lower maintenance and happier flock. And it’s fun to watch. 🙂