Beth G. : The dam of this chicken suffers from an immunospressed syndrome. The dam has had a chronic illness somewhere in its breeding line that has caused damage to the melanocytes in her genetic make up. Which means in layman's terms. Her offspring could pop up with irregluar shaped feathering due to her genetics. You can read up on this online I believe. I have a friend who went to Cornell for Poulrty Science and has taught me alot over the years on how to cull for breeding. This is one thing he showed me on a bird at a show in RI. I just called him to have him explain it again. He said he would not breed your cochin b/c her genetics will cause the same defects in feather. He's seen this alot in chickens who have contracted Mycoplasma gallisepticum. He said it's a delayed amelanatic (sp) line in the Galla. That's all he could elaborate on b/c he had to go. Hope this helps! Edited**** ps he said you could call your state tester and have them come out and do a blood test for M.G. That way you can know for sure if you really are curious and want to know. He said M.G. is spread from chicken to the egg. Elinor's chicks : I only have one cochin in my tiny mixed flock, a pullet that I got from a breeder here on BYC. I bought her as a pet and that's what I got. I don't have any illusions about her quality, I'm just curious. Compared to a lot of the photos I'm seeing here, her feathers are narrow. The feathers I see here - especally on the tail - are much wider. She is nice and round, with the usual cochin fluffy cushion, it's just the individual feathers that are narrow. Is that just a flaw? Are wide tail feathers something you all breed for? Or can I expect a change after her first molt? (yes, I'm sure she is a she - she started laying a couple of weeks ago) Oh for more room......for more cochins!! https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/41928_91011_004.jpg Oh my gosh!! This is scary! I did google some of the terms you mention, especially Mycoplasma gallisepticum, and I think I understand - my pullet is the product of a disease her dam had at one time? Also, half of her toenails turn up, like pixie toes, instead of curving down. Now I assume that is also a manafestation of the genetic defect? No, I had not planned to breed her, and now I really won't. But my girl is otherwise healthy herself, right? She is the picture of health - none of the swollen eyes or respiratory distress that I read about. - Is she safe to have, and handle? - Safe to have around the other birds? - Is it safe to eat her eggs? Those were the things I was not clear about as I read. Wow! And to think this came from a casual question about what I thought was a cosmetic problem!!!! Thank you for your information.