feathered feet and snow, oh no......

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by eagrbeavr, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. eagrbeavr

    eagrbeavr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good morning all you chicken folk. I dont have and feathered footed breeds, but I am in need of a broody hen or two, and the couple breeds I'm interested in are feathered. Thats fine, but I live where theres snow in the winter. How much of a PIA dealing with feathered feet and snow or mud? I dont want a high maintenance bird. Also how difficult is it to check for mites and such? Are there any other considerations I should be aware of with a breed like this? Thanks for any direction.

  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I have/had a few feathered footers.....
    .....cochin mixes and I really love my light brahma's, looks, temperament and pinkish eggs.

    But I've come to dislike the feathered legs/feet.....
    ....and those with excessively fluffy butts too, my cochins had more butt and feet feathers.
    Mostly because they drag filthy muck into the nests on those feathered feet and dirty the eggs.
    Have had to snip a couple frozen turd balls off them.
    It is harder to treat for leg mites if needed or just inspect the legs for health/injury or band them.

    Not sure it's that big of a deal......but that's my take.
    You just may have to try a couple, see what you think.

    ETA: there are broodier breeds that aren't excessively feathered...game birds is one that comes to mind.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    My feather legged Silkies, Sizzles and Cochins keep themselves pretty clean. But, I do make sure to spread shavings or straw in the parts of their run that tend to get muddy to cut down on the amount the step and scratch in (they seem to inevitably find a way though). They take care of the mud and don't do too much tracking into the nests. Every now and then I do have to deal with a dirty bottom because of fluffy butts, as aart mentioned, but I just wash it really quick if its warm or crush the turd with some pliers if its cold. But, again, there are breeds that make great broodies that don't have feathered shanks. Orpingtons, Games, Easter Eggers and Silver Phoenix have been excellent brood hens for me. But, I love my Silkies, Sizzles and Cochins, feathered shanks, fluffy butts and all :)
  4. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Unless you're feeling very drawn to possessing a feather-footed fleet, I would avoid them if you really do not want high maintenance chickens.

    As has already been pointed out, the feathered feet are like floor mops, attracting all sorts of crap like mud and poop, as well as dragging bedding out of the coop. They can't help it.

    You mentioned snow and feathered feet. I imagine it does help keep their feet warmer, though. Beyond that, snow isn't a problem. But if enough wet snow and mud cake to the feathers around the toes, I get concerned about frost bite.

    Cochins and Brahmas are among my favorite breeds. They do require frequent tune-ups of butts and feet because of the "mop effect".

    If you want a really dynamite broody breed, Golden-laced Wyandottes can't be beat. Also some Speckled Sussex are very serious broodies.
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've always had a few bantam Cochins for broodies, and they've had a small enough enclosure apart from the main flock it hasn't been a big deal to keep them reasonably clean and dry.

    somehow this year I wound up with several feather footed large birds--Marans, Brahmas, Faverolles. They've been a pain! We have so much mud to deal with. I don't think the snow is so much of a big deal, but that snow melts eventually and becomes mud, which is a big challenge. So, I'd say plan on separate housing, or go with something like game hens. They're wonderful broody mommas, do well raising babies in a large fowl flock as they're scrappy birds, and about as low-maintenance as you can get.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    I made a dedicated decision early on to keep feathered feet and shanks out of my breeding pool. I think the feathers would be a serious detriment in our winter weather. It's a bit milder this year, but the 2 previous winters were brutal with weeks on end that did not get UP to 0*F AT ALL! My experience with animal feet and cold says (based on dogs/cats) that those fluffy feet will catch and hold snow clumps, which will freeze to the fluff. I had a terrier who would come in after being outside with 2" snow balls attached to her legs and belly, and she had to chew snow balls out from between her toes. I can only imagine how that must have felt! No feathered feet for me, thanks! As far as broody hens go: Try Dominique. They're heritage birds, awesome personalities, small combs (less prone to frost bite), excellent foragers, beautiful feather pattern, when paired with the right rooster (many options there) will produce black sex links, and they are nice broodies. Oh, did I tell you that I like Dominiques?!
  7. eagrbeavr

    eagrbeavr Chillin' With My Peeps

    I really appreciate all the responses. And thanks for the tips for other breeds. Some I was aware of, and some not. LazyGardner, I had the same thought with the snow clumping, like on my dogs. that I can al least take care of in the tub, but the gals, I'm have concern for frostbite. Aart and others who mentioned the dirty nest, didnt think of that. I dont want to do the shavings thing. I only have mud in my run now because I followed some advise I read to throw my grass clippings in there. Every evidence of grass is gone now. I wish I kept the grass! I'm hoping I can kill two birds with one stone with pulling up some sod I dont want in one part of the yard, and transplanting it into the run. One idea I have going. so anyhow, thank you again, all, very much I had a hunch it was more maintenance I wanted to deal with. I cant even get myself to brush the dogs enough, and one of those is a havanese, if anyones familiar with their full coat.
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Shazam Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I keep bantam cochins, they won't walk on snow, mine don't like mud, I don't have any problems with mine and I adore them. We get nasty cold here, was -38 wind chills yesterday, my bantam stay inside their coop on colder days and are fine with it. I don't heat them and I have some frizzles too. I think a wet climate is more a problem.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yeah, they'll like that!

    and have it turned to dirt and roots within hours.

    Go with a mix of mostly dry organic matter....various sizes, shapes, materials.
    Adding a bit at time so you don't end up with a mucky mess, but aim deep might need boards at run wall bottoms to hold it in.
    It will help break down the poops, absorb water, and [email protected] near eliminate odors.....
    .......and provide habitat for organisms to continue the ingestion of poops, the larger of which the chooks will enjoy digging for and eating.

    This is an excellent example of what I mean, this shows it in a coop, but works just as well in a run:
    Here's a great description of contents and how to manage organic 'bedding' in a run or coop...and there's a great video of what it looks like.
  10. eagrbeavr

    eagrbeavr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks, I'll check that link out. I thought about how theyd tear it up. I plan on putting some wire fencing or old bird netting down to anchor it and letting the grass grow over it. I'll figure something out. Also I dont want a litter in there so I can snow blow. Thanks for the suggestion :)

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