Owning backyard chickens will make you wonder about a lot of things about them. One of the things you may wonder is if your chickens have tails.
In this short guide, we’ll go further in details about their tails and what purposes it serves the chickens.
Do Chickens Have Tails?
Yes, chickens do have tails. They have tailbones that are part of their skeleton.
To see their tails, you’ll need to remove the feathers at the tip of their body. The tail is covered in feathers that match the feathers on their body.
Roosters have an additional feather in the form of sickle feathers. These feathers are found only on the roosters. They are long, curvy, and showy feathers.
Why Do Chickens Have Tails?
The tails of the birds serve many purposes. One of them is flying. While the bird is flying, they use their tail to make maneuvers. Also, their tails provide support and balance while they’re taking off and landing.
But you may wonder why your chickens don’t fly. As for farm-raised chickens, they do fly but not very well. They are able to lift off the ground for a couple of feet before coming back down.
However, this hasn’t always been the case. All backyard chickens come from the jungle fowl. Chickens in the wild are capable of flight.
Another reason chickens have tails is to help them balance themselves while they are perching on the branch of a tree.
What Is Wry Tail in Chickens?
When raising backyard chickens, sooner or later you will hear the term “wry” tail. You may wonder what that is and what it means.
A wry tail is a condition that causes the chicken’s tail to bend to one side. This is usually caused by a genetic condition.
Having a chicken with a crooked, bent, or wry tail, it will make the chicken stand out from the crowd. The good news is that it doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort to the chicken.
What Does It Mean When a Hen Has It Tail Down?
In a normal position, the hen’s tail will point slightly upward. You will see the tail in this position throughout the day, whether they are foraging for food or laying down.
On the other hand, if their tail is pointing downward, this is a sign that something is wrong with them.
It’s usually one of the reasons below:
Your hen is egg-bound. Egg binding or being egg bound means the chicken has an egg that is stuck inside. When this happens, it will cause pain and discomfort for them. In some cases, it can be more serious and lead to killing the chicken.
When a chicken is egg bound, look for the tail pointing down, along with staying in one place for a long period of time.
If you’re sure your chicken is egg-bound, a good way to help them is to give them a salt bath using Epsom salt. The salt bath helps the chicken relax, and the egg will eventually come out.
Your hen is low in the pecking order. A tail that is pointing downward could mean the hen is being submissive as they are at the lowest end of the pecking order.
If the hen is not being bullied or picked on, there’s nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, if other chickens are bullying them, it’s best to remove them from the flock.
It will usually happen to younger chickens when this happens.
Your hen is not feeling well. When a hen is sick or has a disease that’s plaguing them, its tail will point downward. This is just one indication which you should look more into.
Do Humans Eat Chicken Tails?
It depends on where you live. In some parts of the world, people will eat the tail of the chicken. In other parts, the tail is discarded.
In the U.S., the tail isn’t usually packaged up on supermarket shelves. However, you may find the tail if the chicken is sold as a whole cooked or uncooked.
Whether you eat it or not, the tail is deemed safe to eat. It’s higher in fat and more calorie-dense than other parts of the chicken.
Chickens do have tails that are used to help them balance on branches when they are perching. Roosters have very large, colorful tail feathers that they display, while hens have shorter tail feathers.