Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Polymers and the Environment 15 (2007), pp. 81–87; doi: 10.1007/s10924-007-0054-7 Copyright © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Used by permission.


The structure and properties of chicken feather barbs makes them unique fibers preferable for several applications. The presence of hollow honeycomb structures, their low density, high flexibility and possible structural interaction with other fibers when made into products such as textiles provides them unique properties unlike any other natural or synthetic fibers. No literature is available on the physical structure and tensile properties of chicken feather barbs. In this study, we report the physical and morphological structure and the properties of chicken feather barbs for potential use as natural protein fibers. The morphological structure of chicken feather barbs is similar to that of the rachis but the physical structure of the protein crystals in chicken feather barbs is different than that reported for feather rachis keratin. The tensile properties of barbs in terms of their strength and modulus are similar but the elongation is lower than that of wool. Using the cheap and abundant feathers as protein fibers will conserve the energy, benefit the environment and also make the fiber industry more sustainable.