If you have chickens with earlobes that are turning white it can be quite a shock at first. More often than not, however, it’s just pigmentation that happens due to age, the breed, or for some reasons unknown.
It’s always a possibility there is some kind of underlying health issue, so you do need to explore that - especially if your hens are showing other signs of being unwell.
In my experience, however, and from researching this and discussing it with dozens of other chicken owners, it’s never been directly related to a health issue.
Why Is My Chicken’s Earlobe Turning White?
If you’ve noticed your chicken’s lobes turning white, I bet you had a similar reaction to what I did.
I went over, took a closer look, then rubbed their lobe with my fingers to see if the white would come off or if it felt any different.
So, I called a friend of mine who works at the local city farm to ask if he had any experience with earlobes turning white. He said he’d seen it a few times over the years, and it’s never been related to a health issue.
He suggested it’s more common with mixed breeds than heritage breeds. Although, I’ve searched the net wide and far and I can’t find any scientific evidence to either confirm and deny this.
It does make perfect sense though. From crossbreeding chickens for many years, we do know that all kinds of strange and wonderful things can happen from mixing genes.
So, the likelihood is that your chicken’s earlobe is turning white due to its genes. It’s pigmentation, not an external parasite or diseases like avian flu, fowl pox, or any of the other common poultry diseases.
Could It Be Due to a Nutrient Deficiency?
I’ve heard some people suggest it’s due to a nutrient deficiency. I think this comes to mind because a chicken’s comb will often turn a pale, almost whitish color sometimes if they’re lacking certain nutrients.
I haven’t been able to confirm that lacking certain vitamins or minerals in a chicken’s diet can cause their earlobes to change color though.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to get some advice from a local poultry vet on what you should be feeding your chickens to double-check you’re providing everything they need.
Do White Spots on a Chicken's Earlobes Mean They're Sick?
I’ve spoken about this a number of times with other chicken owners, and I’ve never found someone that was able to say they’ve connected white spots on their chicken’s lobes to being sick.
This doesn’t mean it’s not possible though. It also doesn’t mean that your chickens are not sick for some unrelated reason.
So, now is a good of a time as any to give your flock a health check.
Obviously, I can’t see your chickens and you should always consult an avian vet if you have any concerns at all.
That said, 4 of the most common signs that a chicken is sick are:
Pale of Off-Color Comb and/or Wattle
This is often what raises suspicion and concern when a chickens’ earlobe changes color. A chicken’s comb is one of the best visual indications of their general health.
If their comb, and sometimes their wattle, is pale, dull, or anything less than the bright red it should be, you need to investigate if they’re unwell.
Not Eating or Drinking Enough
Not eating or drinking enough is always a red flag for any animal. If you suspect your chickens are off their food or water, then something is definitely wrong - white lobes or not.
Not Laying Eggs
There are some plausible reasons why chickens stop laying, such as being out of season, molting, etc.
However, if you know your chickens well and you notice they stop laying eggs when all their necessary conditions are being met, it may be a sign they are unwell.
Are your chickens squatting, laying down, and generally not being as active as normal? We all know what it’s like to feel poorly, right? Being lethargic is always a sign something is up.
Does White Earlobes on a Chicken Mean White Eggs?
You may have heard it said that the color of a chicken’s earlobes is a good indication of what color eggs they will lay...
..and it is, although it’s not always 100% accurate.
There are quite a few breeds of chickens that have white earlobes that do indeed lay white eggs. Lakenvelders, Polish, and Sultans are three that come to mind.
Likewise, most chicken breeds with red earlobes will lay brown eggs. Just keep in mind that there are some exceptions. There are even some breeds that have blue earlobes, like Silkies, and they lay white eggs.
If your chickens started out with red lobes and they lay brown eggs, one thing I can tell you for sure is that they will not suddenly start to lay white eggs!
The bottom line about chicken earlobes turning white is that it’s often perfectly normal, usually nothing to worry about, and is probably more common than you’re aware.
The most important thing to be aware of is that it doesn’t automatically mean there is some kind of disease affecting your flock - so try not to panic.
It’s certainly not the kind of warning that a pale comb indicates. Or, any of the other signs I covered above that your chickens might be unwell.
Still, I can’t speak for your chickens and the exact reason why their lobes are changing to white. If you have any concerns at all, at the very least you should pick up the phone and speak with an avian vet.
Image credits - Photo by Georg Bommeli on Unsplash