Petrolium jelly on the combs?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Chicks Galore3, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut Premium Member

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    This maybe should be in the emergency/disease and cures, but i don't know.
    When should i put petrolium jelly on my chickens combs, if i do? Should i do it everyday? What type of combs need this? Thanks. :D
    CG3
     
  2. americana-lover

    americana-lover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do that all the time durring winter months. Sometimes, i out it on their legs/feet too, but their combs i always do. Usually i use vassaline, but anything like that would work. The use of it is to prevent frostbite, it protects their combs from the harsh winter elements. You should apply it if you see cracking, dryness, or even if the temp gets below freezing to your chickens.
    I do it to my girls, and they only have a pea comb, so if your chicks have larger ones, i would reccomend doing it.
    You can apply it everyday if you want, but you should do it at least do it every few days

    Hope I helped!

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Habibs Hens

    Habibs Hens Cream Legbar Keeper

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    My Coop
    Leghorns need PJ in the winter to stop frost bite

    but its ok to PJ all chickens comb

    and do it when ever it comes off all through out the colder months
     
  4. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Petroleum jelly is sometimes applied to single blade combs in winter (in cold winter areas) because it is thought to prevent frost bite (although I don't know if anyone has actually studied this). Single blade are more likely to get frost bite, because they have a lot of surface area relative to volume. Same thing with people - it's the skinny appendages, like fingers and toes, that are susceptible to frostbite.
    And, since roosters' combs are larger, they are more likely than hens to get frost bite.

    Small, thick or flat combs, like pea, rose, or walnut combs, are generally not susceptible to frost bite. A lot of people in cold winter areas simply keep breeds with those combs, so their birds are safe from frostbite in an unheated coop, with no special care.
     
  5. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut Premium Member

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    Thanks guys! I have two with pea comes, and others have some pretty big ones. In iowa it can get pretty cold, so PJ coming up!
     
  6. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was talking to an old-timer here in Michigan and he said 1) birds only get frostbite when there is too much humidity in the coop. If your coop has enough ventilation (air moving over their heads to remove the heated, moist air--not drafts blowing directly on them) then frostbite should not be a problem. But, 2) if they do get frostbite then the tips turn black and fall off and it's no big deal. Birds are fine.

    Summary: if your coop has adequate ventilation you don't need petroleum jelly on combs.
     
  7. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, I have heard this too, about the humidity, but find it hard to believe that's the whole story. If it's cold enough, many animals, humans included, can get frost bite on appendages such as fingers, toes, ears, and tail, even if humidity is low. I don't know why people assume that for this to happen to a chicken, the humidity has to be high.

    Yes, eventually the frost bitten part of the comb turns black and falls off, same as for frostbitten fingers, toes, ears, etc. You are right that it is no big deal in the sense that you don't die from frost bite, but the point is that it's extremely painful before the affected tissue dies and falls off. In roosters it causes reduced fertility, which implies some serious stress. If you ever suffer frost bite yourself, you will learn how painful it is.
     
  8. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good points, Janinepeters.

    So, what about birds in the wild? I can't at this moment think of any wild birds that have something similar to a rooster's comb but there's gotta be something out there like that--or do those kinds of birds live in more temperate climates, or migrate there in winter?

    I'm guessing that people were trying to find a difference between wild birds and cooped up birds and decided enclosed birds would generate too much humidity and we all know how much colder cold can feel when we're also wet.

    You make a really good point, though. Plenty of people have suffered frostbite while out in the open and so presumably not facing too much humidity.
     
  9. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wild birds can get frost bitten feet, but rarely do because those which normally occupy cold winter areas have evolved via natural selection to be winter hardy. They may have better circulation in extremities, for example, and/or they may roost and rest periodically with feathers covering toes. It makes sense that birds which stay north in winter do not have body parts like combs that are really vulnerable to frost bite, because such sensitive individuals will be quickly weeded out of the gene pool. If frostbite reduces fertility, you're not as likely as a less vulnerable individual to produce offspring.

    Chickens are a domesticated bird, whose wild ancestors evolved in the tropics, so they did not need to adapt to extreme cold. Their combs and wattles are perfectly fine in warm climates, and may even be a helpful adaptation for heat, functioning to help cool the bird, since heat is more easily lost from appendages with a lot of surface area.

    Chicken breeders do not always focus on winter hardiness, which is why we have chickens with single combs in some people's chicken coops in cold climates. Those chickens did not evolve here, people put them here. Breeders that do select for cold hardiness, often select for pea, walnut, or rose combs.
     
  10. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut Premium Member

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    I don't think you guys were arguing, but lets stop before it starts. :D God made birds able to live in cold and others in warm. Birds in nature naturally get frost bitten sometimes. We as humans just like to keep our animals as content as possible.
     

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