Frostbite on comb - what to do

PrairieHollow

In the Brooder
Nov 28, 2021
6
18
21
Hi- We are in MN and are entering our first winter with chickens this year. We had a pretty windy, cold day yesterday, and I think a few of our chickens got a little frostbite on combs and wattles. Most of them look pretty good, but one, the one with the largest comb, seems to have gotten the worst of it. We didn't notice it yesterday when we put them back in the coop (with their food and water) after realizing they were getting frostbite, but this morning, her comb is standing up (we call her Floppy because she had this big comb that would just lay flopped over on her head), and is swollen and part of it is discolored. I'm sure it's frostbite, but am not sure the best thing to do for her at this point. Do I need to bring her into a warmer area and do some doctoring of it, and if so, what?

I'm pretty sure the problem occurred with the wind and cold outside, not in the coop overnight, but I can't say for sure. We plan to wrap plastic around the run to block the wind and elements, but hadn't gotten to doing so yet. There's mostly dirt/rocks in the run, but we have put several bales of straw out for them to dig through there as well, and they are clustered around those areas so we'll be putting more straw out there especially where there is a roof covering the run, and more bare ground is showing.

We have ventilation in the coop and it is well constructed, not drafty, also not insulated, not heated at this point, but we do have a heater we could install (one of those panel heaters that you put on the wall). Just trying to figure out what's the best way to set them up in the coop. I also read some about using a deep litter method to absorb moisture and generate some heat in the winter in the coop. I do have a thermometer in the coop (on the coop wall) that shows the minimum temperature, which last night got down to 6 Fahrenheit. Should we be heating the coop to some degree, and how much? We do have the 2x4 roosting bars.

Trying to figure out the best way to manage this frostbite in Floppy, and as well if there are other measures we should take with the other chickens to prevent it as well. And any insight into best ways to manage them during colder days/nights would be helpful. We weren't sure if we should just keep them in the coop on colder days and if so, how much cold (temp and windchill) can they tolerate?

I have read about putting coconut oil or vaseline or comparable on the combs/wattles to protect, but don't know if this is advisable if there is already some frostbite.

Also, we're new at this, and have a coop, but don't really have any kind of setup to isolate one of the chickens if there is a need to do so. What are some ideas people use to do that?

Thanks for any insights!
 

nchls school

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 22, 2015
7,308
4,600
416
Tennessee
Vaseline doesn't prevent freezing, but it does help by keeping moisture off the combs and wattles. Freezing moisture contributes to frostbite and vaseline type products need to be applied before damage is done.

Birds with frostbite need to be warmed slowly.

If it were me I would supplement their heat somewhat to keep them from frostbite during the coldest weather. Try to make the coop and dry as you can.
Others will give more advice.
 

hollyhock17

Chirping
Sep 15, 2021
83
242
96
near Chicago, IL
Warm your bird slowly. Do not try to rub or cut off any dead tissue; it protects the underlying issue. Don't try to coat frostbitten tissue with anything such as Vaseline because it may damage it further.

You will likely have to keep your bird inside for a bit. Are her feet affected? If so, place her in warm (not hot) water to help with circulation. Don't do anything that will drastically change her body temperature because this may shock her.

Recovery of frostbitten tissue can take 4-6 weeks depending on severity, and you may have to keep her inside for awhile to prevent further damage.

I am in class and cannot type much more, but hopefully this helps a bit. I recommend looking up ways to prevent it as well so you won't have to deal with it again
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
63,089
56,509
1,322
southern Ohio
Do you have any pictures of the chicken’s comb or the coop and run? I don’t like to use creams or vaseline on combs, since it can also freeze, making things worse. Do not massage or touch the comb. It will be painful. Do not break any blisters. Moisture plus cold air or drafts may cause frostbite. It may be unavoidable in large combed roosters and hens. Usually, the comb heals eventually, and may become smaller and tips may disappear.

Straw bales can be good for blocking wind in the run. Here is a good article about frostbite and prevention:
https://the-chicken-chick.com/frostbit-in-backyard-chickens-causes/
 

PrairieHollow

In the Brooder
Nov 28, 2021
6
18
21
Do you have any pictures of the chicken’s comb or the coop and run? I don’t like to use creams or vaseline on combs, since it can also freeze, making things worse. Do not massage or touch the comb. It will be painful. Do not break any blisters. Moisture plus cold air or drafts may cause frostbite. It may be unavoidable in large combed roosters and hens. Usually, the comb heals eventually, and may become smaller and tips may disappear.

Straw bales can be good for blocking wind in the run. Here is a good article about frostbite and prevention:
https://the-chicken-chick.com/frostbit-in-backyard-chickens-causes/
Here are some pictures of the chicken's comb and the coop and run. This hen for some reason has an extraordinarily large comb. Up until this happened, it was flopping around and usually would be sort of folded onto itself and would just lay folded up on her head. Now it is standing straight up, I guess due to swelling, as it appears much thicker than it ever was. Anyway, here are some pictures of her comb and then the coop and run as well. Let me know if there is anything else you recommend.

The run is mostly covered (roof), but there are some places where the elements can get in from above, and we haven't wrapped the run in plastic like we are planning to as soon as we can to protect them. It may be tricky to try to get the whole thing wrapped, but we do need some ventilation too. It seems like the most important thing is to keep things as dry as possible, so we'll work towards that. In the coop, I was thinking we should try to put some kind of poop boards or poop trays and scrape those daily, or do the deep litter method, but I'm not sure how easy it is to get the deep litter method right, so I hesitate to do that without more research.

So far, we've put her and a couple others who had much milder frostbite on their combs or wattles into my husband's shop which is kept above freezing in a stock tank with boards and grates on top to keep them in there. I don't know how long I will need to keep them in there, but I guess it will depend on the weather for sure. How would I know when I can put them back in, and is there a good reason to keep the ones with mild cases in the warmer area and not back with the flock?

Thanks for the link and the advice so far! It certainly helps to have people with more experience to call upon for help when we're just learning all about this!
 

Attachments

  • IMG_2692.jpg
    IMG_2692.jpg
    634.7 KB · Views: 8
  • IMG_2698.jpg
    IMG_2698.jpg
    210.3 KB · Views: 8
  • IMG_2704.jpg
    IMG_2704.jpg
    57.8 KB · Views: 8
  • IMG_2705.jpg
    IMG_2705.jpg
    47.2 KB · Views: 7
  • IMG_2706.jpg
    IMG_2706.jpg
    58.9 KB · Views: 6
  • IMG_2708.jpg
    IMG_2708.jpg
    55.4 KB · Views: 6
  • IMG_2709.jpg
    IMG_2709.jpg
    48.3 KB · Views: 6
  • IMG_2711.jpg
    IMG_2711.jpg
    42.2 KB · Views: 9

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom