Vaseline on Combs

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by horsewishr, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. horsewishr

    horsewishr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Let me start my saying that I'm an RN, and the current catch-phrase/craze in the nursing community is "evidence-based practice." It turns out that a lot of medical "fact" and practice is just custom, and when tested, scientifically, does not prove to be true.

    So when I read this in YukonChicken's cold-weather post, I had to agree:
    I am now going to ensure the three have lubricated combs... although it still seems a bit 'wrong' to me - wouldn't this process assist in wicking away heat from the comb? hmmm...

    I've always thought the same thing. You're putting moisture on the comb. When moisture evaporates off a surface, the surface becomes cooler.

    I did a google search of "vaseline AND frostbite." The only hits that came up were chicken-related. You'd think if it were true, other people would have caught on.

    Here's a quote I found, from someone living in Maine:
    Another concern of cold weather is frostbite. Single comb varieties with long wattles suffer the most. Some believe that massaging Vaseline into the comb will help prevent frostbite. I've tested this and found no evidence that the roosters who received massage and/or Vaseline fared any better than those that didn't.

    Another chicken owner:
    I read in our chicken owners manual, Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow, that rubbing vaseline on their combs would help prevent frostbite, so we've been dutifully massaging on the vaseline, but I'm afraid they've experienced some frostbite.

    So, I'm wondering if anybody knows of any real research on this subject. I'm hesitant to put Vaseline on my girls, because my gut tells me this is myth. But, if my gut is wrong (which it has been known to be), I'd like to be corrected--for the sake of my chickens.

    Edited to add:
    I'd love to hear your personal experiences, too.​
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2008
  2. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

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    California
    I have not yet put anything on my chickens or rooster.
    (and they're fine by the way - with temps WELL below freezing)

    But does Vasaline evaporate? Its not really a moisture (water based) - more of a petroleum product, I'm not sure how those evaporate. ?

    I think, and I'm normally wrong. The vasaline is probably used to keep moisture OFF the comb to prevent freezing - thats how I thought it worked.... like the moisture on my windows that freeze - if there was no moisture it wouldn't freeze.

    I'm guessing humans don't use vasaline, because well they don't leave wet parts exposed as much as a rooster or chicken comb would be. Most other animals have fur or other covering - and humans put on clothing, and keep their skin dry.
     
  3. horsewishr

    horsewishr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All excellent points, Wildsky. Especially the one about vaseline NOT containing water [​IMG] (I'm smacking myself in the forehead.)

    So, the vaseline theory sounds more plausible now. But the two quotes I found from chicken owners don't sound entirely supportive.

    I must confess, that I don't really look forward to putting vaseline on my girls. But I certainly will if I should.

    FWIW, it doesn't generally get too frigid here. We have a warming effect from Lake Michigan, and usually stay a few degrees warmer than those farther inland.
     
  4. verthandi

    verthandi Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2007
    Maine
    Vaseline has worked fine for my chickens. Expecially the long wattles on the rooster. My understanding that it works as a barrier to keep the water from freezing to the exposed skin. -10 degrees this morning....a few more days will tell if this treatment worked well this year. The frost bite isn't always apparent right off.

    I also use Burt's Bees hand salve, which is oil based all winter on my hands before going to the barn in the morning. My hands are constantly exposed to water while doing the horse and chicken chores. I can't say it stops frost bite, but my hands stay dry even if my gloves are soaked. [​IMG]
     
  5. Pinenot

    Pinenot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last year my grey Jap got frostbite on the ends of his comb. I put vasaline on it after the fact and kept it on it for the rest of the winter. He didn't end up loosing the tips due to me putting it on. His comb looked almost black it was so bad.

    This year his comb started turning purple so I knew that it had been too cold for him. I put the vasaline on and it is bright red again. I put it one several times a week. He is the only one I have had to do this to. He has a large comb.

    It keeps the moisture out and if you rub their combs puting it on, it circulates the blood flow making it warmer; helping to prevent the frostbite.

    I will continue to do it this way [​IMG]
     
  6. SweetLilRachy00

    SweetLilRachy00 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could just knit up some little wool hats for them! [​IMG]

    Personally, I believe that chickens live outside. They should be able to withstand the cold to a certain degreee. I wonder what that degree is.. Perhaps you can put a heater in there just on those low temp nights?
     
  7. SweetLilRachy00

    SweetLilRachy00 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I have to say, I use vaseline all the time for my lips when they become chapped. If it didn't hold in moisture then it would be pointless to put it on there! That's the whole reason.

    That is why you would want to put it on the combs. Because it holds in moisture to keep them from drying out.
     
  8. chickbea

    chickbea Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2007
    Vermont
    I used to use Vaseline when it got really cold, but I just found something much better at the feed store. I was never totally happy with vaseline because it is so greasy. This stuff is specifically to protect cows' udders from frostbite, and it is more of a cream so stuff doesn't stick to it. I'm not talking about Bag-Balm; that just makes a mess. I'll have to look at the name of it when I get home.
     
  9. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

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    California
    Quote:I have to say, I use vaseline all the time for my lips when they become chapped. If it didn't hold in moisture then it would be pointless to put it on there! That's the whole reason.

    That is why you would want to put it on the combs. Because it holds in moisture to keep them from drying out.

    But you're not using the vasaline to prevent frost bite on your lips. If you left them, the dry lips wouldn't be much of an issue (annoying yes), if you walked outside with water on your lips and that froze and stayed frozen over an extended period of time, well you would probably lose your lips. :eek:

    Combs drying out isn't the problem, its the freezing part of frost bite the original poster is trying to figure out. THe vasaline keeps moisture OFF as well - and I believe that is the reason its used to prevent frost bite. Vasaline certainly doen'st keep the comb WARM...... so it MUST be the moisture its keeping OFF that is the reason for it working for some people.
    Actually, a dried out comb wouldn't freeze at all........... dry doesn't freeze, gets really cold though! The process of frost bite is the cells being frozen (liquid) and those expanding and distroying the tissue.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2008
  10. Yukon Chicken

    Yukon Chicken New Egg

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    Good thoughts and insightful comments. I am going to ponder further today while at work and check in later. Thanks!
     

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