The main causes of black spots on a chicken comb are insect bites (e.g., mites, mosquitoes, and fleas). While dark marks come from pecking and scratches from chicken fights, fowlpox bumps leave black scabs and spots on the comb as they heal.
Small spots from scratches and insect bites can scab as they heal and those will not affect the general health of a chicken. However, be concerned if there is a sudden appearance of several dark spots and makes.
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Causes of Black Spots on Chicken Comb + What To Do
Always be observant when rearing chickens and take immediate action whenever you note an abnormal change on the comb. You must diagnose and determine the issue if you see unusual spots or changes on the comb.
Let’s look at some of the conditions that can lead to chicken combs having black spots and what to do about them:
Fowlpox is one of the most viral and common diseases that affect chickens. This disease can affect chickens in two variants; wet and dry Fowlpox. You can quickly identify an infected chicken since its combs contain black spots.
The dry variant is characterized by small lesions that lead to black scabs on the chicken’s skin, while the wet variant causes breathing difficulties.
Fowlpox can be passed from one chicken to another through insects like mosquitoes, chicken pecking on scabs of infected chicken, skin abrasions, or respiratory transfer.
Fowlpox can spread quickly and is difficult to cure. You can only prevent it from spreading by vaccinating and taking the infected chickens into a different room.
2. Avian Influenza
Avian Influenza is a viral infection that is characterized by symptoms like:
- Respiratory problems
- Black spots on the comb
- Blood oozing through the chicken’s nostrils
Though it rarely attacks backyard chickens, Avian Influenza is still a contagious disease that you should look out for. If you suspect that your birds are suffering from this infectious condition, ask for help from an avian vet.
3. Fowl Cholera
Fowl Cholera, a bacterial disease caused by Pasteurella multocida, is among the topmost causes of black spots on the chicken’s comb. Chickens with Fowl Cholera will show the following symptoms:
- Oral discharge
- Swollen wattles
- Swollen joints
- Loss of appetite
Fowl cholera can attack chickens of any age, but mature hens and pullets are at a higher risk of contracting the bacteria.
Mammals like dogs, rodents, and cats can pass the infection, but the main way of transmission is via mouth or nose excretions from infected chickens. It is also imperative to understand that P multocida can survive on the ground or surfaces for a long and spread when chickens contact with infected surfaces.
Chickens suffering from Fowl Cholera can be treated using antibiotics like penicillin or tetracycline. Though it can be treated, the best approach is to prevent it by vaccinating your birds. Since the bacteria can survive for long, you need to disinfect the chicken coop and ensure that the poultry does not enter it for a few weeks.
Frostbite in chickens occurs when their bodily tissues such as wattles, comb, and legs are exposed to very low temperatures. The cells’ fluid freezes, thus, causing blood to clot and the cells to lack oxygen, which will cause tissue damage.
During extreme cold seasons, chickens can get frostbite which can cause the combs to turn black, especially at the tips. The good thing about frostbite is that it can be easily controlled and prevented.
Firstly, you must provide heat to your chickens during cold seasons. Additionally, avoid letting the chickens out when there are low temperatures and ensure their coops are well insulated to prevent wind or cold air from entering.
All chickens can contract frostbite, but roosters and single-combed breeds have the highest risk of getting frostbite since their combs are more prominent. Frostbite symptoms include:
- Blackened wattles and combs
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen feet make the chicken limp
Upon identifying that your chickens have frostbite, move them into a warmer coop or provide them with a heat source. Frostbitten chickens can be treated with an inflammatory medication, but the veterinarian should prescribe the drug first. If the conditions are adverse, consult a veterinarian to diagnose and prescribe the correct dosage.
5. Poor Health
You can determine the health of your chicken by observing their combs. When chickens are healthy, the combs are dark red, soft, and vibrant. However, if the chicken’s health deteriorates, the combs will shrivel up, discolor or turn black. Poor health conditions may reduce blood circulation, preventing the comb from retaining its vibrant colors.
Conditions like heart or liver issues may cause your chicken’s organs to collapse or become dysfunctional. If this happens, the supply of blood and their general health will be lowered.
The blackened combs may also result from excessive bites from insects such as mosquitos. Additionally, some prescribed medications can alter the chicken’s health and cause the combs to turn black.
Numerous reasons can cause the combs to turn black; the best way to determine the reason is to consult an avian vet. The poultry specialist will diagnose the chickens and determine what is causing the black spots on the comb.
If you notice a black spot on your chicken’s comb, it might be nothing serious. The spot may have resulted from chicken fights or scrubbing its comb on a rough surface. However, if the comb has severe black spots, you must have an avian vet examine your chickens for diseases like fowl pox, which is one of the major culprits.
A chicken’s comb is not just a beautifier. It has other vital functions. One of the critical functions of chicken combs is regulating the body temperatures and indicating the health status of the poultry birds.
But what if your chicken with a red comb has black spots on it? Well, that indicates that something is not right. You should note that the black spots are not a disease but rather a sign of a particular illness or issue affecting the chicken. Basically, you should also find out the cause.