Combs and Wattles

It’s spring time, which means babies, blossoms, broody hens and bright colors. I thought I’d take a minute to share an interesting poultry tidbit with you as the warmer weather arrives.

Have you ever wondered how chickens stay cool in the summer heat?  The answer lies in those combs and wattles that are distinctly chicken.  What you may not realize is how great a purpose they serve.

Combs and wattles are extremely vascular.  That means there is a lot of blood moving through those body parts at a very high rate.  If you’ve ever had a chicken injure a comb or wattle, you have seen that fact first hand.  (Side note- cornstarch will help stop bleeding and is very safe.) Chickens use that blood circulation to dissipate body heat.  Chickens in hot, southern climates will tend to grow larger combs and wattles than birds in northern, milder summer climates.

Combs come in many different varieties, and it is wise to choose birds that are adapted to your climate.  Birds in hot climates need large combs that can give off a lot of body heat.  Birds in colder climates need smaller combs, such as a rose comb, to conserve body heat and prevent frostbite.  Frostbite is a very real threat to birds with large single combs.

This is a Haitian Chicken. Notice he’s a small, flighty bird that can escape predators by flying into trees. He also has a small body with a large comb and wattles. Perfectly suited to Haiti’s island climate.

This little Ameracauna hen behind the rooster has a pea comb and very small wattles.

There is actually science that goes into choosing birds that will do well in your area.

You should pick birds that are nice for you to look at, but also birds that will do well in your climate.

I have a broody hen right now, that is trying to hatch some biddies. If you’ve ever experienced a broody hen, you know they are not to be bothered. They will guard those eggs with their life. I took a little video of this one. You will see why I didn’t stick my hand in there.


Wishing you a wonderful Easter celebrating the resurrection of our Savior!


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