This post could have been called a million things besides “Chickens have an oil gland…”: How about “You should learn everything you can from your grandparents before they leave this Earth…” or “Things I wish they had taught in Chicken School…” or “You know you are a helicopter chicken mother when…”
I was watching Faye (one of our favorite chickens) bathing yesterday when I noticed her scratching a bump on her back. When her feathers separated it looked like the ticks our cat used to get, but with dirt around it and little feathers growing out of it. It was on her back, close to the base of her body where her tail feathers began. Oh my, I was worried. Was this lice? A parasite? What could it be? Out came ‘A’, our resident chicken whisperer to pick Faye up and hold her while I conducted a thorough inspection. A closer look showed that it wasn’t lice or a parasite. It was growing out of her body.
What was it?
It turns out that chickens have an oil gland – it’s a little bump that sticks out of their skin on their back and they rub their beaks on it while they bathe. Oh, is that all! I was worried! As it turns out, they all have it – not just Faye. Now, why didn’t I learn this from any of my chicken books or chicken people I know? Why didn’t I take up chicken keeping while my grandfather, who knew everything there was to know about chickens, was still alive?
I know about the oil gland now and you do too. I don’t have any clear photos of it today. But if you have chickens and you happen to see it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
In the meantime, enjoy these views from around the homestead.