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Red ear lobes turning white

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have several slightly more than one year-old Buff Orpington hens.  I noticed some weeks ago that a couple of them have earlobes that are turning from red to white.  I tried "cleaning" them but it wasn't a case of them being dirty or coated with dead skin cells. 

I don't see any evidence of bugs.  I keep the coop clean.  The girls free range 14 hours a day and have access to organic layer pellets.  They do sneak into the turkey pen and eat their non-organic, non-medicated feed, but I notice the earlobes changing before they had access to the turkeys.

Not all the hens have this problem, some of them have bright fire-engine red earlobes, wattles, and combs.

They have been laying regularly since they began, last October.  (We're getting 4 or 5 eggs a day from seven hens, even with temps hitting 100+ all week.

So far no sign of molting.

The two that went broody and raised chicks still have nice red lobes.

Any explanation?  Is this "bleaching" due to egg laying?

post #2 of 11

Is it white spots, or the whole earlobe turning white? Maybe you could post a picture.

Last fall, the first signs of fowl pox in my flock were whitish raised areas on their combs and wattles...basically anywhere unfeathered can be sites for fowl pox. After a while they spots turn black as the disease progresses. If that's what it is with your birds, don't worry...fowl pox is usually not serious and birds recover from it on their own with simple supportive care.

post #3 of 11

Some of my marans I thought were doing that, but it was when they were laying eggs, and they would go back to red later

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Here's one of them.  No spots, and just the lobe.  I hope you can see it, the one with the really big ear lobes was in the high grass.  smile
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/26349_img_0941.jpg

post #5 of 11

That's how my marans looked. It is "pale" not white. White has actual whitish opaque pigment when they are colored wrong. The pic you are showing just shows less circulation to a correct colored area. (don't know the technical name for it, sorry)

post #6 of 11

I had/have this exact same problem and I looked EVERYWHERE for an explanation. I for sure thought my birds had come down with some kind of disease. But, they're all alive and thriving so I don't think they're sick. Some of my hens have it, while others don't. I do think it has something to do with egglaying. I have a friend who had 2 Production Reds and their earlobs were almost completely "white" with just bit of red around the edges. They laid a jumbo egg everyday, so maybe that's why it's much more prevelent in their case.

Could it be a sign of some sort of nutrient difficiency that we could help supplement our birds with?

post #7 of 11

I thought that bleaching of the earlobes was one stage in the progression of a laying cycle? (i.e. the lighter the earlobe the more eggs the hen has laid). I am not certain and may be misremembering -- I know this is discussed in Gail Damerow's book which I do not own but probably a bunch of y'all do smile, under the subject of how to tell good layers from poor layers when culling; and the info is available a lot of other places, none of which I can currently get Google to show me unfortunately. You might check into the possibility though. Of course I could be wrong tongue

Good luck, have fun,

Pat

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

I couldn't find mention in The Chicken Health Handbook, But Storey's Guide says that Mediterranean breeds do bleach.  They say red-lobed breeds don't, but I'm thinking it may been incorrect.

I wondered about a nutritional deficiency, but they get plenty of food (a couple of them too much!) and have access to two acres of very diverse foraging.  Also, the two who raised chicks are still somewhat thin from the ordeal, they fed on very small amounts of feed during incubation (had to take them off the nest so they'd eat at all) and they have very red ears.  And of course they didn't lay for 8 weeks, during incubation and raising the chicks full-time, so maybe it is related to laying.

They should molt  this fall, so we'll see if the color comes back then.

Thanks everyone for your input.  I appreciate you!

post #9 of 11

when chickens are stressed the red on their faces, such as wattles combs and earlobes will turn a lighter color, they could be molting or under extreme heat or cold

It should be illegal for people with desk jobs to say, "Hard day at work."--  A Ford magazine
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It should be illegal for people with desk jobs to say, "Hard day at work."--  A Ford magazine
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post #10 of 11

Mine have done this from time to time, but their health has never seemed in danger.  I have not noticed any signs of illness, and they have been laying well, and have been eating and drinking normally.  They also have energy, as no-one gets left behind in the rush for treats.  The best that I can figure is that it is a temporary, benign change.

Married to DH for 21 years, DS 18,  mom of golden retrievers--Harley and Mia, and my 17 girls--Barred Rocks, a Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Reds, Easter Eggers, a Gold Laced Wyandotte, a Silver Laced Wyandotte, Delawares, Cuckoo Marans, a Black Australorp, and Twiggy---our Welsummer, who laid the prettiest eggs ever, but left for chickie heaven today, where they never, ever run out of raisins.
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Married to DH for 21 years, DS 18,  mom of golden retrievers--Harley and Mia, and my 17 girls--Barred Rocks, a Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Reds, Easter Eggers, a Gold Laced Wyandotte, a Silver Laced Wyandotte, Delawares, Cuckoo Marans, a Black Australorp, and Twiggy---our Welsummer, who laid the prettiest eggs ever, but left for chickie heaven today, where they never, ever run out of raisins.
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