black and bleeding combs?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by colorado cowgirl, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. colorado cowgirl

    colorado cowgirl In the Brooder

    Jan 9, 2011
    this is a question in regards to my 3 white leghorn roosters.
    I have 2 large white leghorns, and one smaller.

    I have noticed since winter has set in, that just the edges of my roosters combs and sometimes their waddles have begun to turn black around the just the tips, and then they bleed.

    their combs do not always bleed when they are black.
    usually right after the black has gone away.

    before winter set in, I covered the exposed vents by tacking up some boards and old burlap feed bags.
    I figured this would help keep out the snow, keep in the heat, and still allow ventilation.

    I have 2 white light heat lamps hanging in there,
    I have been insulating the dirt floor with a mix of straw and pine shavings.

    the only behavior changes I have noticed lately, is that they are really picking on the hens lately,
    my poor ladies are running and hiding whenever they see one of the boys coming round.

    so I was wondering, is it because the 2 biggest males are challanging each other? or because the ladies are trying to defend themselves?
    or is it kinda like frost bite?

    is there anything i can do to help discourage it?

    is there anything I need to look out for?

    should I worry about this?

    sorry, I know I have a lot of questions, this is just the first time I have ever dealt with this.
    I will try and take a picture of it, and then figure out how to post it.

    thank you advance.

  2. emys

    emys Songster

    Nov 19, 2008
    It is definitely frost bite on the roosters combs. The black is dead flesh and when it falls off or is picked off by another chicken it bleeds. This is probably happening because you have them sleeping in a moist warm environment at night and going out into a cold dry environment during the day. Too much moisture is your enemy #1. You may have blocked off too much ventilation. You need to let the moisture escape out the top of your coop. (Don't beat yourself up over this - it is an all too common beginner mistake.)

    As for the roosters chasing females too much, how many hours per day do you leave the white lights on? You are making them think it is spring and if left on for 24hrs, you are depriving them of a sleep cycle, which can make them kind of crazy.

    What is your rooster to hen ratio? With 3 roosters, you need at least 25 to 30 hens to keep the hens from being over-mated.

    There are many threads on heating/ventilation here is a recent one you may find helpful.

    I personally do not heat my co-ops at all in the winter and we do get bitter cold here. I chose instead to insulate well. I close down various vents according to temperature. Anything warmer that single digits, the vents stay open. If we are dipping into negatives for any length of time, then I close all but the smallest vents at the top of the coop.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011
  3. colorado cowgirl

    colorado cowgirl In the Brooder

    Jan 9, 2011
    thank you Emys.

    I was told I needed to leave the lights on 24/7, because the temps do drop in the negative double digit range nightly.
    would a red light be better? or is that just for chicks?

    as for the rooster/hen ratio, I did have about 57.
    unfortunatly this seems to have been the summer for predators.
    I have lost all but about 15, including the roosters [​IMG]

    some of this stuff is still new to me.
    when I moved out here to care for my grandfather, I was just told " the stuff is out in the tack shed, take care of my animals"
    so, it has been a bit of a learning curve for me.

    I do know however that I enjoy it immensly.
    so I am still learning on how to make my feathered friends more comfortable.
    looks like i have a lot more to learn.
  4. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Songster

    Aug 21, 2009
    Emys has given you great information that should help. I would switch also to one red lamp and wean them off it over a few weeks and then shut it off as they are used to heat and need to get used to it but still open more ventilation ASAP! Red lamps don't keep them awake as white lights do. I would also put (gently) some Vaseline on the birds combs and wattles to prevent further frost bite.

    You can let them outside if you have screens to block some of the drafts. They can handle cold--just not drafts as they blow their feathers apart which removes the heat against their bodies. You can add an extra perch outdoors in a draft free area if they wish to be off frozen ground. The key is to offer lots of opportunity to relieve boredom and for the girls to get away from the roosters--at least until you get more girls. Try hanging greens such as kale or dark leafy lettuce for them to peck at. Tossing some oats in the bedding for them to scratch and look for. Pecking can also be triggered (or continue) due to a need for more protein so if the other things do not help try adding a little more until it stops.

    As for predators--electric fencing used properly is helpful for ground predators. Protection form raptors however, takes more work but if your chickens have lots of cover they will have a better chance to hide. [​IMG]
  5. colorado cowgirl

    colorado cowgirl In the Brooder

    Jan 9, 2011
    thanks chickerdoodle.

    electric fences are not really an option,
    all of my birds are free roaming.

    they are by far the best pest control I have ever had.
    between the ducks, the geese and the chickens, I had no problems at all with the house being over run with crickets and grasshoppers.

    you mention more protien in their diets,
    i have been reading some stuff about that,
    any ideas as to what I can feed them that is a good source of protien?
    I kinda thought about some scrambled eggs, but, I don't want to encourage any egg pecking/eating as I think I have finally gotten that habit broken.

  6. dento

    dento In the Brooder

    Aug 29, 2010
    you shouldnt have any problems with egg eating as long as the eggs are scrambled. as for protine i use BOSS
  7. Talihofarms

    Talihofarms Songster

    Dec 4, 2010
    I agree that your chickens have frost bite. At this stage when it turns black it is dead.I am in the Midwest and we have temps close to yours. We get frost bite on the combs but it is not a concern. Some people use vasaline or utter balm. I free range our birds and we never give them any heat. It is not cost effective and i think it makes the birds less hardy.

    Reduce your light down to no more than 14 hours a day slowly over a several week period.

    Protien,... Boss is good and wheat sprouts also. Fish meal is good and some extra corn will heat them up.

    just my.02

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