If you’re a chicken enthusiast, then there’s a lot you need to learn about these creatures to understand them better. Apart from learning about the different breeds, learning about their different organs is very important. One of these organs, that plays a major role in the overall health of your chicken is the chicken comb.
Now, other than the plumage, one intriguing feature of most chickens, especially roosters is their combs. While some chickens boast of unique V-shaped combs, others are proud to have single combs while others have combs that stick straight upwards.
So, in this guide, we’re going to discuss the different variations of these bizarre-looking appendages as well as list the type of chickens that bear each type of comb style. We’ll also learn the different uses of chicken combs, health issues related to combs, and how to take care of your chickens’ combs. So, are you ready to learn about the chicken comb? Well, let’s get started.
What Is a Chicken Comb?
A chicken’s comb is a kind of an outgrowth on the top of a chicken’s head. It’s made up of collagen fibers that make it soft, smooth, and elastic like a rubber band. Now, the comb comprises several layers. The top or outer layer is the epidermis. Just under this layer are the sinus and deep capillaries. Since these capillaries are so close to the skin, the comb can easily bleed when injured.
There are nine types of chicken combs. They include single, strawberry, buttercup, carnation, pea, rose, walnut, cushion, and V-shaped combs.
Now, combs serve different purposes in chickens. Among them is cooling the chickens during hot climates. Another role is determining the health of your chicken while the last one is telling whether a chicken is mature or not.
Top 9 Types of Chicken Comb
Having defined the comb, let’s now jump into our main topic where we’ll discuss the different types of chicken combs. Here, we will categorize these combs into two parts. The first part will include chicken combs that are ideal for warm climates while the second part will have combs that are ideal for cold/cool climates.
Chicken Combs for Warm Climates
1. Single Comb
The single comb is exactly what comes to mind when you envision a chicken. It’s the most common type of comb and it consists of a thin piece of red flesh that’s attached to the top of the chicken. The single comb has five or six serrations or triangular points. These serrations are smaller in the front and rear but larger in the middle.
Among the chicken breeds that bear this type of comb include the Rhode Island Red, Faverolles, Ayam Cemani, Leghorn, and Barnevelder just to mention a few.
2. Buttercup Comb
The next comb in our list of chicken comb types is the buttercup. This type of comb resembles two single combs joined together to form a crown. In fact, this comb resembles a bowl with serrations on the sides. While this comb looks interesting, it’s sad to mention that only one type of chicken breed bears it, the Sicilian Buttercup. This leaves the buttercup comb in serious need of conservation.
3. Carnation Comb
Just like the buttercup comb, the carnation comb is very rare and also in need of conservation. This comb resembles the single comb at the front with minor differences being in the rear. While the single comb is uniform, the carnation comb forms protruding spikes at the rear. Only two chicken breeds bear this comb, which is the Empordanesa and the Penedesenca.
Chicken Combs for Cold Climates
4. Pea Comb
The pea comb is among those combs that sit too low on the chicken’s head. They’re easily identified by their three parallel ridges that run from the beak to the center of the skull. The center ridge is slightly higher than the other two with each ridge bearing small rounded serrations. Pea combs are ideal for chickens that live in cold regions, as they’re less likely to get frostbites. Chickens that bear this type of comb include the Brahmas, Ameraucanas, Sumatras, and the Buckeyes among others.
5. Rose Comb
Just like the pea comb, the rose comb is mostly owned by chickens that are hardy and able to survive in cold climates. This type of comb is small and hugs the head from the front to the back. However, the back has a spike-like shape that protrudes upwards or horizontally depending on the breed. The front part is covered with small rounded protuberances up to the middle section. Breeds that bear the chicken rose comb include the Wyandottes, Hamburg, and the Dominiques
The V-shaped comb doesn’t need any formal introduction. This type of comb resembles a V shape where two points separate from a single base just atop the beak. This type of comb is nicknamed the “Devil’s Horn” due to how it makes your chicken appear. Although the V-shaped comb is quite rare, some chicken breeds do bear it. Some of these breeds include the Sultan, Appenzeller, and the Crevecoeur.
7. Cushion Comb
Just like the pea comb, the cushion comb is very small and perfect for chickens that live in extremely cold regions. This type of comb starts from the beak and ends right at the middle of the skull. It’s smooth and solid and doesn’t have any spikes or depressions. One chicken breed that bears this type of comb is the Chantecler.
8. Strawberry Comb
The strawberry comb is another type of comb you need to know regardless of whether you’re an enthusiast or just curious about learning identification chicken comb type. The reason why it’s called the strawberry comb is how it resembles a strawberry. This comb sits low on the head of the chicken but protrudes towards the beak with the wider part slipping forward. Chickens that bear this type of comb are the Malay and the Yokohama.
9. Walnut Comb
Finally, yet importantly, we have the walnut comb. This type of comb resembles a walnut shell with grooves and a round surface. The comb rests on top of the beak and is common with Silkies and Orloff chicken breeds.
How Do Chickens Use Their Combs?
- Heat Control
Now, chickens are not like humans when it comes to relieving heat. Since they don’t sweat, they use their combs as a means of regulating body heat. So, a large rooster comb is an indication of how well your chicken can control body temperature during a hot summer climate.
When discussing the various chicken combs, we listed three combs, which we said are ideal for the hot summer climate. These combs are usually flamboyant as compared to their usually small winter counterparts.
- Indication of Status
Now, chickens are creatures that value social status. So, to indicate which chickens sit at the top of the pecking order, they usually look at the size of the comb. Chickens, especially roosters with large combs and wattles are considered the highest in the pecking order.
- Sexual Attraction
A large comb and wattles on a rooster’s head are like a “de facto billboard” advertising the excellent health of the chicken. Not only is it eye-catching, but a large comb and wattles are a way of telling hens that a particular rooster is healthy enough to produce healthy offsprings that will have higher chances of survival. The same applies to hens where a red vibrant comb indicates a healthy chicken.
- Overall Health
Another way chickens use their combs is to indicate the status of their health. Now, different types of chicken combs have different colors depending on the breed. While some are red, others are purple, pink, and black.
So, in this case, you have to identify the normal color of your chicken’s comb before you can determine its health status. Otherwise, if your chicken has a pale and shrunken comb, then that’s a clear sign of a possible health problem.
- Tell Chickens Apart
Now, this point applies more to humans than to chickens. If you’re a chicken keeper, then the comb will help you distinguish roosters from hens and cockerels from pullets. For instance, roosters have larger combs than hens while cockerels develop their combs earlier than pullets.
What Are the Health Issues of Chicken Comb?
The appearance of the comb tells a lot about the chicken that bears it. For instance, a vibrant, firm, and waxy comb indicates a healthy chicken. However, if you notice alarming changes in the size, color, and shape of the comb, then that’s a clear sign that something is terribly wrong. So, in this section, we’re going to discuss various health issues depending on the color of the comb.
Pale Pink Color
If it’s during summer, the first reason for the pale pink color could be heat exhaustion. So, start by inspecting the ventilation inside the coop and if possible, provide your flock with cool water and water-laden treats such as cucumbers and cold watermelons.
Another reason for the pale pink color on your hen or rooster comb is signs of anemia which are mostly caused by lice and mites.
A pale comb can also be a sign of molting during winter or it can present a non-laying pullet that’s just about to begin laying eggs.
Lastly, a pale color can indicate the presence of internal worms especially if you notice watery droppings in the coop. To confirm your suspicion, a hen can even lower egg production due to stress.
Purple or Dark Red Color
A purplish or dark red color on the comb is a clear sign of breathing issues or lack of enough oxygen in the blood. If you notice this sign, then you should check whether something is blocking the nasal passage of your chicken.
Another reason for the purple color is the possibility of stroke or heart attack. The purple color can also be caused by the Avian flu which causes decreased appetite, lack of energy, low egg production, and diarrhea.
White or Black Spots
Is your chicken comb turning white? Well, that’s a clear sign of fungus or a dry comb. Here, you can apply some coconut oil or apple cider vinegar to nourish the dry comb.
If you notice one or just a few black spots, then that can signal accidental stabs from pecking incidents. However, if you notice multiple spots that start with white and then turn black, then that’s a sign of frostbites.
If the comb has black or brownish spots during a warm summer month, that can be a sign of fowl pox. The case might be severe if the fever is accompanied by lethargy, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
In the case of frostbites, you can consider applying coconut oil on the comb to lower its effects. As for fowl pox, you can quarantine the affected chickens and have them vaccinated right away. Since fowl pox is spread by mosquitos, you can consider planting insect-repellent plants around the coop such as mints and marigolds.
Tips and Tricks for Keeping Chicken’s Comb Healthy
After discussing the various health issues of chicken combs, we’ve realized that there are three factors you need to watch out for to guarantee the excellent health of your chickens’ combs.
- One of them is watching out for excessive pecking incidents. If you notice that some chickens are being pecked excessively, then you can consider removing the bully chickens from the flock. Also, consider treating the wounds of the affected chickens to avoid any infections.
- Another common problem with chicken combs is frostbites. If you notice it, apply ointment, creams, and other oral antibiotics to treat it. You can also consider warming the coop using heaters to keep your flock warm.
- Lastly, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as a chicken rose comb changing color or texture, then you should consult a vet immediately to have the chickens checked.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Do Female Chickens Have Combs?
Yes, they do. Just like roosters, hens have combs and wattles. However, their combs are less pronounced and not as large as those of the roosters. The same case applies to cockerels and pullets. One way to determine the gender of your chickens is by looking at the comb.
If you notice tiny combs on some chickens, then they’re generally cockerels as males develop combs faster than females during the early stages.
Q2. Why Is My Chickens Comb Pale?
Now, from what we’ve discussed, chicken combs are great indicators of a chicken’s health. When a comb is pale, there are various reasons behind it, some of which are normal and others alarming. Starting with normal reasons, a pale color can indicate molting, broodiness, egg laying, or signs of sexual maturity.
On the flip side, alarming or health-related causes can include internal/external parasites, high temperature, anemia, dehydration, or high levels of stress.
Q3. Do All Chickens Have Combs?
Yes, they do. However, these combs come in different shapes and sizes. While some are large, others are so tiny. In most cases, chickens that live in hot weather conditions have large combs to help in regulating heat. On the other hand, chickens that live in cold regions have extremely small combs to prevent frostbites.
Q4. Can a Chicken Comb Grow Back?
The simple answer is no. Chicken combs don’t grow back. Once it falls off due to injury, illness, or infection, it doesn’t grow back. Your chicken will live without a comb from that time on.
So, there you have it. Was the topic interesting? From the look of things, we can tell you really enjoyed reading this informative guide. As you can see, the comb is such a tiny organ that plays a major role in the life of a chicken.
First, this organ comes in nine unique chicken comb types. Second, chicken combs are categorized into two, one for warmer climates and the other for cold climates. Three, combs are crucial organs that tell the overall health of a chicken. Lastly, combs allow poultry farmers or chicken keepers to identify chickens according to their gender.
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Hello, I am John Reid. I have been raising chickens for the last 15 years. I have got my experience from my father. My father is the owner of a large chicken farm. This is our family business that has been continuing for over 35 years. I am very interested in backyard chickens and I know how to take care of them. You can learn more About Us here. Happy Reading!!