Have you noticed a chicken comb turning purple within your flock?
When a hen's comb is anything other than bright red, it typically means they are suffering from some kind of health issue.
Here's what it means if a chicken's comb turns purple, and what you can do to help:
Reasons a Chicken’s Comb Will Turn Purple
When a chicken's comb is turning purple, it typically means there is an issue with the blood flow in the comb.
There are several reasons why this may be happening, including:
One of the most common reasons for a chicken's comb turning purple is an infection.
The infection can be bacterial or viral and will cause the red blood cells to burst, which then leads to discoloration.
Infections can be caused by a variety of things, including poor nutrition, unclean living conditions, or exposure to parasites.
When chickens don't have enough water to drink, their comb can start to turn purple as a result of dehydration.
Blood Vessel Damage
If the blood vessels in a chicken's comb are damaged, it can cause the comb to turn purple.
This might be the result of an injury, or from frostbite. If this is the case, if you look closely, you might notice their comb is a dark purple, almost black.
Chickens can also develop allergies to things like pollen, dust, or feathers. If a chicken is allergic to something, its comb will often change color as a result.
I've heard of a chicken's comb turning purple as a result, but I've known of several incidents where their comb went from a bright red color to a pale shade.
Related - What to do when a chicken's comb is bleeding.
How Do You Take Care of a Chicken With a Purple Comb?
If you have a chicken with a purple comb, the best thing you can do is take it to a veterinarian.
The vet will be able to determine what is causing the problem and will prescribe the appropriate treatment.
In some cases, the problem may be resolved with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs.
However, in other cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the issue.
If you can't take your chicken to a vet, there are a few things you can do at home to try and help.
First, make sure your chicken has plenty of fresh water to drink and is eating a balanced diet.
If the problem is due to dehydration, you can try giving your chicken a Pedialyte or Gatorade to drink.
If the problem is caused by an infection, you can try giving your chicken a warm bath to help loosen the crust on the comb.
You can also use a topical ointment like Neosporin to help treat the infection.
However, it's important to note that most of these treatments should only be used as a last resort, and you should always consult a veterinarian before trying them.
Why Do Chickens Have Combs?
The comb is a fleshy growth on the top of a chicken's head that has become pretty iconic.
Combs come in all shapes and sizes. Some look like huge mohawks, some are called 'walnuts' because they look like.. well walnuts, and for some breeds, their comb is barely visible.
Looks aside, a chicken's comb plays a vital role in their wellbeing. The main purpose is that it helps to regulate their body temperature.
The comb contains a large number of blood vessels, which helps the hen transfer heat from her body to her head.
This is important, because chickens are not able to perspire like we do, and they need to be able to regulate their body temperature in order to stay healthy.
The comb is also used to help the hen cool down her head, by transferring heat from the head to the comb.
This is why you'll often see chickens fanning their feathers with their wings – they are trying to cool down.
What Does an Unhealthy Chicken Comb Look Like?
You can tell a lot about a chicken's general health by looking at its comb.
A healthy comb is a vibrant red color (some breeds have different color combs) and is firm to touch.
If you're not sure what an unhealthy chicken comb looks like, here are a few things to look for:
- The comb is bright red and swollen
- The comb is discolored, typically purple, black, or yellow
- The comb is crusty and dry
- The comb is flaky or scaly
If you notice any of these symptoms in your chicken, it's important to take action and get them the help they need.
Otherwise, the problem could worsen and lead to further health complications.
A chicken's comb can turn purple for a variety of reasons, most of which are indicative of an unhealthy bird.
If you have a chicken with a purple comb, the best thing you can do is isolate t from your other chickens and take it to a veterinarian for treatment.
If you can't get to a vet, the advice in this post should help you narrow down what the issue is - if not help you address it and get your chicken back to 100%!