Frostbite? Or fungal infection?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jennymerchant, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. jennymerchant

    jennymerchant Hatching

    May 29, 2012
    Hello, my buff orpington has these black areas on her comb. Actually my other buff orp does too but not as much. The remaining 3 hens (other breeds) are fine. The temps here haven't dropped below 25 degrees at night (40s in the day) so I would be surprised if it's frostbite but maybe? I had a red heat lamp going on in the coop at night on a timer - it would turn on for 15 minutes once at midnight and once again at 3am. I did notice condensation on the inside of the windows in the morning when I would let the chickens out into their run. Then this morning this same hen had some blood on the tips of her comb. I wiped it clean and put antibiotic ointment on it (and the other one's comb too). They are otherwise acting normal - eating and drinking and pooping and laying. Also, I have turned off the heat lamp and am cracking the windows to make sure the ventilation is good (no more condensation now).

    Any ideas what this could be and how I should treat it? Thank you in advance!
  2. willowbranchfarm

    willowbranchfarm Chicken Boots

    Oct 3, 2011
    My Coop
    Is it avian pox??
  3. jennymerchant

    jennymerchant Hatching

    May 29, 2012
    I thought maybe that too but it's been cold enough that the mosquitos are dormant now. Isn't that how it's spread?
  4. Chickadeeee

    Chickadeeee In the Brooder

    May 11, 2012
    Hard to say, without know the conditions inside the coop. After all, a large coop will get colder, because the chickens' body heat won't do much to warm it up on chilly nights, especially if the light's only on for a little while. It could be frostbite. If you're concerned about this, I highly recommend putting a min/max thermometer in your coop overnight--such thermometers record the night's lowest temps (and they come pretty cheap on If the low inside of the coop is below freezing, I think you should leave the light on overnight on nights like that. It'll keep your flock protected for further frost-bite harm. Good luck! :)
  5. jennymerchant

    jennymerchant Hatching

    May 29, 2012
    Thanks Chickadeeee! The coop is pretty small - 4x5 and about 4.5 feet tall. And it's well insulated. I've checked the temp (just by sticking my hand in) at night before I go to bed and in the morning when I let them out and it's never really cold in there. I have read on these boards that if it's humid in the coop it could cause frostbite (when they come outside into the cold under-32-degree weather). But a recording thermometer is a good idea.
  6. froggiesheins

    froggiesheins Crowing

    Oct 14, 2010
    Jurupa Valley, CA
    Its does look like either frostbite or fowl pox. I know I have read somewhere on this site about this type of thing but at the moment I just can't think of anything...ahhhh.........
    As a footnote, I have read about people who put vaseline on the combs to help from getting frostbite. Is there enough ventilation in the coop so there isn't too much humidity? I know that too much humidity is not good.....
  7. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Songster

    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    You shouldn't need a heat lamp for those temperatures. As you now know, Adding heat adds condensation. I would turn off the lamp unless it gets below 0 degrees F. I have a woods style open-front coop in the mountains in northern NY. (Fresh Air Poultry Houses is the book reprinted by Plamondon Press-you can find it on amazon). We built ours 8 x 16 so it's very deep. This morning it was 8 degrees F, and I had no frost bite issues.

    If you want to play it scientifically, use the dew point as your guide. The frost temps can be higher than the dew point, so use a little leeway here. I check the humidity % outside with the weather app on my phone. I also check the dew point, add a few degrees for frost point, and the humidity inside the coop. When it's high humidity outside, with fast falling temperatures that fall quickly to the dew point, I open up all my windows in the coop to reduce the humidity levels. I wait until the humidity outside has fallen a bit.Then I close it up before dark (but remember the front is always open). The air-out only takes about 20 minutes. When the humidity gauge in the coop reads a much lower percentage, I feel much more confident. But just remember that it will never be lower than the outdoor humidity percentage.

    An example of the type of days I'm talking about- all last winter it seemed like we had temps just below 30 with damp, foggy, snowy days. Then at night, the temps would drop to about 0 degrees.

    I'm not sure how you will improve ventilation without creating a draft in such a small coop though. there are some wonderful articles here on BYC that discuss ventilation. You could ask over on the coop maintenance board. I've never used Vaseline on the combs, and I don't have a heated insulated coop. Good luck!
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  8. jennymerchant

    jennymerchant Hatching

    May 29, 2012
    Thank you all for your advice! I truly appreciate it. I'll keep an eye on them and will get a thermometer and watch the dew point. I've grown attached to my little flock of 5 and it breaks my heart to see something wrong.
  9. cowcreekgeek

    cowcreekgeek Songster

    Sep 14, 2012
    Hurricane, WV
    The only thing that I'm almost certain of is that your temperatures haven't been nearly cold enough to consider frostbite as the cause ... favus is usually white, but fowl pox produces blackened area that look similar to this. For now? I'd remove this one from the flock, 'til you can be sure of what you're dealin' with.

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