Feathers are often discarded when your chickens, ducks, or geese are slaughtered, and that’s a shame because they can be used for so many things. From filling pillows to creating works of art, feathers are versatile and interesting.
If you’ve ever had chickens, you know that there are a lot of new feathers left over when you slaughter them. And if you don’t have chickens, but have been given a bag of feathers, what do you do with them all? These are some ideas of what you can do with them.
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How to Clean Chicken Feathers?
Before you use the feathers for anything, you should give them good cleaning. Some people like to freeze them before or after cleaning to kill any potential bugs. Others will not clean them at all unless they are visibly dirty or will be used for something where a high level of hygiene is essential.
This is how I clean my poultry feathers:
- Start by removing any chunks of dirt or debris.
- Next, fill a sink or bucket with cool water and add a mild soap.
- Soak the feathers in the soapy water for a few minutes, then agitate them gently to loosen any remaining dirt. Be careful not to damage them.
- Rinse in clean water to remove the soap.
- Finally, lay the feathers on a towel to air dry. Fluff up any matted or deformed feathers by hand when they are dry.
Now that your feathers are clean, you can use them for any project you like!
What You Can Make with Chicken Feathers
Feathers can be used for many different purposes. In industrial settings, feather fibers can be used in paper and plastic manufacturing. They can also be used to make clothing, hats, and other accessories on an industrial scale.
At home, you can use the feathers to make a variety of items for yourself or as gifts for others. Here are some ideas:
Filling for Pillows and Cushions
Poultry feathers are great for pillow making. In fact, one of the most popular uses for feathers is to fill pillows and cushions. Chicken feathers are not the same as goose down, though. They are somewhat stiffer, so they won’t give you the same level of soft, fluffy feel. However, they will still provide comfortable padding and support.
If you want to use chicken feathers for your pillows, you can purchase a pillow form or make your own. Sewing a pillow form is not difficult, and there are many tutorials online that can show you how (like this one). Once you have your form, simply stuff it with the feathers until it is as plump as you like. Then sew the opening shut.
Use only the smaller and softer plumage on the chicken’s back and breast for this project. The larger, longer feathers from the wings are much too stiff and will make your pillow uncomfortable to use.
The sky is the limit when it comes to crafting with chicken feathers! Just use your imagination and let your creativity run wild. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Jewelry – Use feathers to make earrings, necklaces, or other jewelry.
Wall art – Glue or sew feathers onto a canvas to create a beautiful piece of feather art.
Ornaments – Make Christmas ornaments or other seasonal decorations.
Gift tags and cards – Cut feathers into shapes and use them to decorate gift tags or create unique greeting cards or invitations.
Bunting – Cut feathers into small pieces and string them together to make a festive decoration.
Art – Use feathers as part of a mixed media painting or sculpture.
A feather wreath – Glue or tie them onto a wire wreath form to create a one-of-a-kind decoration.
Dream catcher – Weave feathers into the web of a dream catcher.
There are so many possibilities when it comes to crafting! Just use your imagination and let your creativity run wild.
A feather pen or quill
While pens were originally made from goose feathers, you can use a duck or chicken feather to make your own small quill or feather pen. Just follow these simple instructions:
- Start by cutting a sharp point on the end of a wing feather.
- Next, cut a slit in the quill about 1 inch from the point.
- Finally, dip the quill in ink and start writing!
Make your own feathery jewelry! Earrings, necklaces, and even bracelets are all easy to make with feathers. Just string the feathers onto some wire or thread and add a clasp. It’s that simple!
If you want something a little more elaborate, you can get creative with your designs. Glue a feather onto earring posts or braid them into bracelets. The possibilities are virtually endless.
Fishing Lures and Flies
You can use poultry feathers to make fishing lures. This is a rather complicated process, but there are tutorials available online (like this one) that can walk you through it step-by-step. Making your own lures is a rewarding experience and will add a unique touch to your tackle box.
If making lures from scratch is not your cup of tea, you can also attach chicken feathers to a jig or spinner by tying them on with fishing line. This is much simpler than making a lure from scratch and still allows you to personalize your tackle and perhaps improve your catch rate.
You can also use your feathers to make artificial flies for fly fishing. The basic principle of making flies is to attach down to a hook in such a way that they will look like a fly or other small insect when they are in the water.
Making flies is not difficult, but it does require some patience and practice. There are many tutorials available online that can show you how to make your own lures. You can experiment with different techniques to see what works best for you.
Here is a quick and simple tutorial on how to make a chicken feather artificial fly:
- Start by tying a small piece of feather to the hook.
- Next, tie another piece of chicken feather to the first one. Make sure that the second feather is pointing in the opposite direction.
- Repeat this process until you have a small bunch of feathers tied to the hook.
- Finally, trim the feathers so that they are all the same length. Your fly is now ready to use!
Any feather can be used to make all sorts of decorations. They make beautiful and unique bunting, ornaments, and gift tags. You can even use them to decorate your Christmas tree!
If you want to get really creative, you can use your feathers to make wall art. Glue or sew the feathers onto a canvas to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
The sky is the limit when it comes to decorating your home with feathers. Just use your imagination and let your creativity run wild!
Making Feather Dusters
Instead of those plastic and synthetic dusters you find in the shops, you can make your own using poultry feathers! This is a great way to upcycle chicken feathers and cut down on your use of plastic. Plus, these feather dusters work just as well (if not better) than the store-bought ones.
To make your own duster, you will need:
- A branch or dowel rod
- Some string or twine
- A glue gun
- A bundle of chicken, duck, or goose feathers
Start by tying the feathers to the end of the branch or dowel rod by wrapping the string around. Make sure they are of similar length and are pointing in the same direction. Then, use the glue gun to glue them in place. Start at the base of the feathers and work your way up.
Once the feathers are glued in place, add another layer slightly offset from the first layer. Wrap the string around these feathers and glue them in place. Continue adding layers until you have a nice, full duster.
While feathers are not typically thought of as compost material, they can be very beneficial for your garden and make great fertilizer. Feathers are very rich in nitrogen and will add valuable nutrients to the compost bin.
To add your feathers to your compost bin, simply throw them in and mix them with your other compost materials and chicken manure. Over time, they will break down and add important nutrients to your compost.
Feathers may seem tough and uncompostable, but they are quickly broken down by bacteria and worms living in healthy compost. Yes, your garden worms love chicken feathers.
Just be sure not to add too many at once, as this can throw off the balance of your compost bin. A good rule of thumb is to add no more than 1 pound of feathers for every 5 pounds of other compost material.
Where to Find More Feathers
If you don’t have your own chickens, don’t worry! You can still find feathers for all of these projects. Check with your local farmer’s market or butcher to see if they have any. You can also find them online from many different sources.
If you have friends or neighbors who keep broiler (meat) chickens or other poultry, ask if you can have their feathers. Most backyard chicken farmers make no use of them and will be more than happy to give them to you.
How to Store Chicken Feathers
Feathers can be stored in a number of ways. The easiest way is to simply put them in a bag or box and store them in a dry place out of direct sunlight. I recommend you use a sealed container to keep pests out.
Another option is to freeze them for 48 hours. This will kill any parasites that may be living in the feathers and prevent them from spreading. To freeze the feathers, simply place them in a freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible. Then, store the bag in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
No matter how you choose to store your feathers, make sure they are clean and dry before you put them away. Also, be sure to keep them away from moisture. Wet or dirty feathers can quickly start to grow mold and will be unusable for any of these projects.
As you can see, there are many uses for chicken feathers beyond simply throwing them away. With a little creativity, you can find all sorts of ways to use them. So the next time you butcher a chicken or are given a lot of feathers, don’t discard them – put them to good use.