Protecting Combs and Wattles From Frostbite....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by UrbanMama, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. UrbanMama

    UrbanMama Gone Country....

    Sep 27, 2008
    Let me start this by saying that I was gifted with 4 beautiful, sweet, pullets from my good friend Redhen. After last weeks arctic weather they came to me with a few little spots of frostbite. I've been using triple antibiotic ointment on them to try and keep any infection at bay. do we protect them from getting it again...or having it get worse? I've heard in several places of people using vaseline on their combs and wattles as a protective coating....but I have a big concern with this.

    In my past life (pre-stay at home, momhood [​IMG] ) I was a licensed Aesthetician. The part of my job I most enjoyed was the science's....

    When I was part of the skin-care world, any products with petrolatum (which petroleum jelly is derived from) were big no-no's. While some people think it's hydrophobic (repels water) it's just doesn't blend or mix with water. In reality, it's hydrophilic...meaning it draws moisture to it. Which is why any lip balms etc with petrolatum in it can be bad...if there's not enough moisture in the air, it will actually draw moisture out of your skin.

    I'm sorry if this went to far into concern is this. Vaseline/petroleum jelly/petrolatum products are hydrophilic...draw moisture. Wouldn't this same moisture actually raise the risks of frostbite? Bee's wax can do the same..but not as severely. Coconut oil might be good...but they might be drawn to smell/taste and end up pecking each other. Has anyone used anything other than petroleum products?

    Sorry for the long post...I'd love to hear some ideas here! [​IMG]

    ***edited for spelling...ooops!***
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  2. annmarie

    annmarie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 20, 2007
    I guess this won't really answer your question because I've only ever used bag balm on my chickens combs and wattles (which I think is basically a thicker more concentrated form of petroleum jelly). I just wanted to point out that when you apply bag balm in below freezing temperatures it's more like a paste that coats their combs, rather than something that gets rubbed into their skin, like lip balm. It's that thick coating that seems to prevent the frostbite. Its kind of like a wipe-on waterproof hat really, which prevents moisture from settling on their combs and freezing. Of course, the best way to prevent frostbite is to have adequate enough ventilation that there is absolutely no moisture build-up in the coop, but with temperatures like we were dealing with last week, the balance between ventilation versus non-lethal temperatures was a tough balance, and that's when petroleum jelly saves the day!
  3. morelcabin

    morelcabin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    The absolutely no moisture in the coop doesn't work for frostbite either...I'm doing that...and my coop is as dry as a bone...I have huge ventelation...but the frostbite still happened at about -32C. I really don't know the answer to this. Perhaps lanolin???
  4. UrbanMama

    UrbanMama Gone Country....

    Sep 27, 2008
    Quote:It can potentially have the same problem...but is considered better than petrolatum....I have some lansinoh around here too...
  5. mylilchix

    mylilchix Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've heard of people putting olive oil on their combs and wattles. I've used vitamin E oil on them too, and that seemed to work.

  6. ella

    ella Chillin' With My Peeps

    A couple of years ago I had 4 extra roosters for the winter, they spent their days in a makeshift coop in the greenhouse and occationally free ranging around the yard.

    It was a typical Minnesota winter and one week we were having some pretty bad winds, I put vaseline on the boys combs and wattles and let them out for a half hour to get some exersise. I left the door propped open so they could go back in. After about 15 minutes I went to check on them and Zeus' comb was frozen solid! The vaseline was like a hard like ice on his comb.

    He ended up loosing about 1/4'' off the top of his comb. I don't use vaseline anymore.

    I'm sure it's probably fine at warmer temps. But it didn't work very well for me. [​IMG]
  7. BJ

    BJ Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2007
    The chicken books say to use vaseline. I have used vaseline and utter balm. Once I even mixed them together. I am not sure what to think. What do people do who have 50 chickens...there is no way they can catch them all and coat them. Some folks do nothing and hope for the best. I'm going to follow this thread to see what other people do.

    By the way, I only have 4 hens. One of my orpingtons got a teensy bit on the tip of her comb...I THINK. I'm holding my breath and hoping there is no more. How long will it take before I know for sure??
  8. morelcabin

    morelcabin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    Well I didn't use anything, (for the same reasons as the OP, actually...for one it didn't make sense to add moisture on a -40 day, and petro products)
    My roo got frostbite really bad. Would it have happened with the vaseline? I can't see how it wouldn't have with the temps we were having. Short of covering up your skin completely on those days you will get frostbite.
    Around here I have never heard of anyone putting anything on roos combs...and I am told that whatever gets frostbitten eventually falls off or the black skin flakes off and thier combs get red again. I hope all the frost bitten parts fall off my roo so I don't have to go through this with him again next year!
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  9. Brunty_Farms

    Brunty_Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 29, 2007
    If you have any cheap heat sources use that to warm your coop. Maybe an energy efficient electric heater? Just to keep the chill off of them during the night.

    We have free gas and keep the greenhouse/layer house at 40 degrees in the dead of winter.

    I don't think anything your going to put on their combs and wattles will prevent frostbite without getting into their skin. Or even if you found something... temps with this last Clipper that came in would be no match for vaseline/ oil.
  10. the1much

    the1much Currently Birdless Hippy

    ive always told people that Vaseline isnt the answer,,, but they always come back with "well this old farmer..." ,,,,,,,, frostbite is a temperature thing,,not a wet thing..
    Shaw-Wei likes this.

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