Noticed a bleeding chicken comb on one of your hens or roosters?
A chicken's comb isn't just there to look cool, it plays a vital role in regulating their body temperature - and is also a good indication of their general health.
I'm going to explain the reasons why a chicken's comb might be bleeding, as well as what you should do to help your chicken:
Reasons Why a Chicken’s Comb Might Be Bleeding
There are a number of reasons why a chicken's comb might be bleeding, some of the most common causes include:
Usually caused by a bacteria or fungus, an infection will cause the comb to become swollen and red, and may ooze pus and bleed.
There are a number of infections, but Dry Fowl Pox is one that I've seen personally cause a chicken's comb to bleed.
If it's cold enough for your chickens' water to freeze, their combs can easily get frostbitten.
Look out for pale or blackened combs, especially at the extremities of their combs and spots of blood.
Marek's Disease is a highly contagious viral disease that results in lethargic behavior, loss of appetite, anemia, and shrunken combs that can rupture and bleed.
This isn't the only disease that can cause a comb to bleed, but it's one of the more notable and requires immediate action.
Chickens are curious creatures and can easily hurt their combs by getting them caught when sticking their heads somewhere they shouldn't.
There are capillaries close to the surface of the skin in a chicken's comb. It might feel tough and rubber-like, but even a small scrape can cause it to bleed.
Roosters will often peck at each other's combs as part of their dominance ritual (and because they're aggressive), and this can cause the comb to bleed.
Hens also peck each other's combs. This is due to the hierarchy that forms within a flock known as a pecking order.
Hens lower in the pecking order tend to get picked on, as do hens that are ill or weak.
What to Do if Your Chicken's Comb is Bleeding
If you spot that your chicken's comb is bleeding, the first thing you should do is try and determine the cause.
If it's an infection, frostbite, or Marek's Disease, then you'll need to take your chicken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If it's been injured, then clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide or Betadine and apply a bandage.
If it's due to fighting, then you'll need to separate the chickens until the wounds have healed.
Reasons Why Chickens Fight and Peck Each Other
Pecking injuries can be pretty common, if you know that your chickens are fighting and pecking at each other you have to step in and stop them asap.
Some of the most common reasons why chickens peck at each other are:
That's right, chickens actually get bored.
If they're not given enough things to do, chickens will often start picking on each other and usually in the form of pecking at each other's combs.
Fear or Aggression
Chickens can become fearful or aggressive if they're not given enough space, when a new bird is introduced to the flock, or if they're being harassed by a predator.
It's called a 'pecking' order for a reason. Hens form a hierarchy within a flock known as a pecking order and literally peck at the hens lower down in the order.
If you have a hen that is routinely being picked on by the others you'll need to separate her for a while, if not indefinitely.
Keeping an Eye on Your Chicken's Comb
A chicken's comb is a good indicator of their overall health, so keep an eye on it and look out for any changes.
If it's swollen, red, or has any discharge coming from it, then it's likely that your chicken is unwell and you should take them to a veterinarian.
If the comb is pale or blackened, this could be a sign of frostbite.
And if the comb is shrinking or bleeding excessively, then this could be a sign of Marek's Disease.
By being aware of the common causes of bleeding combs in chickens, you can help to keep your flock healthy and happy.
A chicken's comb is an important part of their anatomy and can provide a lot of valuable information about their health.
If you spot that your chicken's comb is bleeding, don't ignore it - try and determine the cause and take appropriate action.
When chickens see and smell blood, it only encourages them to peck at the hen with the bleeding comb more.