Putting Vaseline on Combs

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by waddles99, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,476
    99
    166
    Jun 22, 2013
    NJ
    Hi, since winter temps are starting to get colder i have started putting vaseline on my chickens that have single straight combs. I am not putting in on my ameraucanas since they don't have much of a comb. Anyway, i was wondering how often you should put the vaseline on the chickens combs?
     
  2. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

    739
    59
    138
    Mar 12, 2013
    New Jersey
    Apply it regularly on frigid nights with moisture/precipitation. Keep in mind that frostbite often results from moisture, not just freezing temps. If your chicken coop is well secured and draft free, then it is highly unlikely that your birds should get frostbite.

    However, even the most frigid of nights can cause frostbite on birds. I would recommend using vaseline on nights that are in the single digits or even teens. A useful experiment is to put a barn thermometer in your coop overnight and check it after sundown. I bought one last year to do this and was delighted to find that on a 15 degree night, my hen house remained well above freezing (38-40 degrees) during the night. Chickens give off a ton of body heat. Each bird generates as much heat as a 100 watt bulb. My 14 birds thus generate good heat, and the insulation of my coop retains it well. Buy a thermometer, test it in your house (make sure the thermometer and your thermostat match, and then nail it to the wall of the coop to gauge temps. Maybe your birds will not even need vaseline if your temps aren't low enough.

    Otherwise, you can apply regularly on frigid nights (which could be every night in some areas). I used vaseline when the humidity was high because that is when frostbite likely occurs most.
     
  3. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,476
    99
    166
    Jun 22, 2013
    NJ
    Alright thanks for that info. I live in NJ as well so I am probably pretty close to you, i see you are in New Jersey. I am in Morris County. I think my Buff Orp got frostbite because she got water on her comb from drinking. It is strange that she could get it because it hasn't been that cold out. Some of my RIR were showing a little yellow on the tips of their combs too.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,692
    6,784
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Curious how much ventilation you have and if you also measured the humidity in the coop on that night?
     
  5. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,211
    445
    231
    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    We get winter temps down to 0 F. (Not this year though) And I've never used anything on my birds combs, and they have never had any problems with frostbite. And that's with BRs, 4 yr old BRs, with some tall combs. Just give them a well ventilated, dry coop. Closing them in, in the winter, is where the trouble starts.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,621
    3,201
    441
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.

    This. ^ It gets well below zero where I live and rarely do I have problems with frostbite on my birds. Good ventilation is the key. If you are seeing frost on the walls of your coop, it's too humid.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
  7. dheltzel

    dheltzel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    4,161
    701
    261
    Nov 30, 2013
    Pottstown, PA
    I had some frostbite last year, so this year when I added on (the part with the red roof) I made it more like a Woods-style open air coop. The front you see open here is now covered with 1/4 hardware cloth, while the other sides are covered with wood or clear tarps to prevent drafts. I will have to wait until later to report on whether this works or not. I have too many roos to put vaseline on them every day [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,476
    99
    166
    Jun 22, 2013
    NJ
    Is the coop you have in your profile pic the coop you are talking about? Its a great design. The coop i have them in is a standard quaker chicken coop, all closed up for the night except for the chicken door, which is open because their run is enclosed. I think that creates a lot of built up moisture. There is a vent in the back of the coop. Should i open that?
     
  9. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

    739
    59
    138
    Mar 12, 2013
    New Jersey
    So my coop has ventilation through the top area (space between the roof and walls). I keep it 100 percent open all summer, but only 25% in the winter. Still allows for airflow, but limits how much cold air can get in. Roosting bars sit well below these so draft is not a concern. Local farmer said a cold winter draft can really cause problems, so I was sure to account for this when I constructed my second hen house. I did at one point use a digital thermostat (got in on amazon for like $30) and my humidity was low..30%. The University of Georgia has excellent articles on proper humidity in the poultry environment, and I'll link it for everybody if they'd like to read it. (It is written for industrial poultry facilities, but the information can totally be applied to the backyard flock.)

    High humidity is a concern not just because of frostbite, but really because of ammonia levels. Chicken waste has a ton of different gases and a poorly ventilated area can severely lower air quality, let alone cause frostbite on the birds. I've always wanted excellent ventilation for both of these reasons, but some people tend to overstate what proper ventilation is because they don't experiment much. Believe it or not, you can lower the windows to minimize the amount of cold air coming into the coop without stopping proper ventilation. Humidity levels of 60+ are a serious concern, and it isn't a bad idea to invest in a meter to measure these. If you haven't, then its really hard to talk about proper humidity without having an estimate of where your coop is at. It doesn't need to be as low as you can get it, just low enough to prevent frostbite and poor air quality.

    Glad to hear you are from NJ Waddles99. I'm Passaic County, probably not terribly far from where you are. Given that we experience the same conditions in the winter, I will let you know that I rarely used vaseline. The only birds I did use vaseline on were those that had very large combs (for example, my Minorca has a massive comb that is beat red, so I feel the need to protect it more). My RIR and Buff Orpingtons are cold weather breeds, so I really let them care for themselves. I will let you know that I have never had a bird get frostbite. The tips of the combs do slightly yellow on some birds, but that is because they get extremely dry (like my hands)! The air can be very dry in winter, and this can cause combs to look pale and shriveled at times. It isn't anything to be very concerned with. Large yellow segments are black tips are the indications of actual frostbite, in which case you need to take some action to protect combs and reduce humidity. I will have you know that I have not done anything to my birds so far this year, and I really don't plan to use vaseline in the coming weeks.

    Link to article on ventilation and humidity: https://www.poultryventilation.com/tips/vol24/n2
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by