Why Are There Hairs on My Chicken Wings?

There is a common question that arises at the dinner table, especially when eating chicken. Why are there hairs on my chicken wings?

When I see this question come up, it usually means that someone is looking for a way to remove the hairs without harming the bird. It may be that they are grossed out by them or simply want to make sure they are a safe snack for their family.

The answer is that those little hairs aren’t actually hair at all, they’re a small filoplume feather or part of a very small down feather.

These are actually a fairly unique type of feather and they’re not quite what you would expect to see on a chicken. Filoplumes are a sort of modified feather that help contour feathers to stay in place, which is helpful for keeping the chicken warm and dry while they fly.

They can be found on the tips of each contour feather and are also found between contour feathers. They also help to fill the gap between the contour feathers, creating more insulation.

If you have a lot of them, you can use tweezers to pluck them off of the chicken wings before cooking them. It’s a very easy process and it doesn’t hurt the bird at all, as long as you clip in the right spot.

The other option for removing the hairs from fresh-cut or frozen wings is to singe them off before cooking them with a creme brulee torch, barbecue lighter, or larger propane torch. This can be done by passing the flame over the wings in wide swaths. It’s best to use grilling gloves for this job, as they’ll protect your hands from burns.

During molting, chickens shed their old flight feathers and grow new ones. While these are beautiful, it’s also a good idea to clip them off because they can get tangled and fly into your garden or even your neighbor’s yard.

You’ll notice that the newly emerging feathers on a chicken have blood vessels extending into their shafts to nourish them as they’re developing. Clipping these blood feathers can cause excess bleeding, so be careful when removing them from the chicken’s wing and don’t clip them too high.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t cut the primary wing feathers until they are fully formed and hardened. You’ll know they’re ready to clip when the molted feathers have grown in and have become hollow.

Once you’ve trimmed the primary wing feathers, you can move on to the covert feathers. You can use sharp scissors or shears to clip the covert feathers, but don’t cut them too high as this will cause bleeding.

As long as you’re cutting into the correct area of the wing, your chicken will be happy and will grow back over time. If you accidentally clip too high, you can add some corn starch to the bleeding wing to help it clot up and stop the bleeding.