Pale Comb That Looks Dry and Powdery!


In the Brooder
5 Years
Jul 9, 2014
My son recently decided that he wanted add to our flock for part of his birthday gift! (Love that boy, lol!) We bought 3 hens from a local guy- 1 RIR, and 2 RIR/Leghorn crosses. The RIR (Dusty) and one of the crosses (Maggie) started laying for us right away, nearly every day. They're funny girls, very personable. The third, Fiona (my FiFi), is the problem. She has never laid yet, and we've had her for 3 weeks. She seems to have no...spunk. She stays in one place most of the time, although she is allowed to free range. She acknowledges me with little noises, but doesn't follow me around begging for attention like our other 7 birds do. She always has her shoulders hunched up, and she just looks, I don't know, sad? That was concerning enough, but I've noticed that her comb looks paler and paler, and now, it appears to be covered in a white powdery substance. It looks like it's terribly dry. She does not appear to be molting. I also don't think it's weather related, since the weather here in Western PA has been beautiful. Maybe she's old? If that's it, she'll just live out her days here- I don't care what my husband says, I will never put any of my girls in the pot!
I treat my chickens like babies, so it really breaks my heart to see her like this. She just isn't happy. The other chickens don't try to hurt her, but I've noticed that the past two nights, she's been kicked off the roost...she huddles on the floor of the coop. What can I do for my girl? It's not about getting her to lay- I just want her to be healthy and happy.
Seems like something may be wrong. Hard to tell what though. Can you isolate her and give her some electrolites in her drinking water, and offer her food and see if she takes it? If she's not interested in food, that's a bad sign.
She does eat- I do not, however, see her drink much, even though water is easily accessible. I know my husband has been treating the water with pro-biotic powder. It's easy for me to see them eat, from my office window, but the water hangs in the back- I don't see that all day long like the food. I probably check on them all every 1/2 hour or so. (I know, obsessing- but my youngest is gone to first grade all day now, and I'm lonely, lol!)
I'll see if I can get a picture of her that shows her up close, and I'll post it.
Hello there and welcome to BYC!

Sorry about your hen. Do you know if they have been wormed recently? Worms can drain the life right out of a bird killing them. And it will cause the comb to go pale. Many things can cause a pale comb however. What does her poop look like? She could have coccidiosis. If you are seeing blood in her poop, cocci is very likely.

She could be egg bound. Put on a latex glove with some ky jelly or vaseline in the index finger and gently insert your finger straight back. If she has a stuck egg you will feel it within the first 2 inches in.

Have you checked her over for bugs or mites? These can make a comb go pale. Look closely around the vent and behind the neck, under the wings too. You may not see any bugs, but you will see bug eggs around the feather shafts. Looks like dirt attached to the feather shafts. Red irritated skin and broken torn feathers.

Is she eating? It is best to check a crop first thing in the morning as it should be empty. Full at roosting time. What does her crop feel like today? Is it empty or full?

You can also post this in our emergency section for more help with her too...

Good luck with her. I hope you can get her back to good health soon.
Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC! Sorry about your hen, TwoCrows gave you some good suggestions to check. Hope FiFi recovers.
I hope someone at the ER thread will be able to diagnose and suggest treatment for her. Please keep us updated. We do care.
Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

X3 it could be cocci, parasites, or egg binding. Follow Two Crows instructions.

Good luck with your bird!
I know absolutely nothing about her background, as far as age, shots, wormings, etc. The place that we got her from...imagine around 250-300 chickens, all free ranging, all intermingling/interbreeding, roosters going at hens without mercy...honestly, it was kind of like a puppy mill for chickens. They love their birds, I have no doubt...but it is near impossible to know who's had what, and how old each one is in a flock that size. I very much doubt anyone was wormed or anything of that nature.
I'll have to see if she'll let me pick her up and check her over. She likes to come up and "talk" to me, but if I try to crouch down to her level, she scoots away. :(

My FiFi is on the left, and Maggie on the right. You can see the difference in the color of their combs. I tried to get a closer shot, but my camera froze up, and she went into a corner, hiding.
You need to give her an exam. Check her for egg binding, bugs, crop check and worm them if they have not already been wormed. Use Corid for Cocci if you suspect it. Don't wait too long on these things.

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