Chicken Comb Turning White: Causes + Solutions

A chicken comb turning white is an indication of a health issue or condition demanding immediate action. Usually, a healthy chicken will have a lively, red comb that is not falling over. While chicken combs may have other unusual color changes, it is one of the reliable indicators of your chicken’s general well-being and vigor.

6 causes of chicken comb turning white

There are several causes of a white chicken comb, as discussed below. Before taking any action, you should figure out the cause since it will help get a tangible solution. Your chicken comb turning white, from its glossy, red color, maybe because of:

1. Molting  

Molting, often happening in the fall, is the natural process that leads to your chicken’s feathers being shed and renewed. Introducing new feathers helps the bird avoid predators and safeguard itself against impending cold weather.

During molting, egg production declines or stops since the chicken’s body benefits from a total rest. The bird may not even eat as it can rely on its natural reserves of nutrients and energy for powering the process of forming new, fresh feathers.

Molting takes place once or twice a year in mature chickens. However, some birds may molt once every two years.

Factors that may force molting are:

  1. A decrease in artificial light or daylight
  2. Loss of weight
  3. Extreme cold
  4. Provision of little feed or feed lacking vital ingredients
  5. Attack or stress from predators like dogs
  6. Lack of proper management of your flock. For instance, provision of improper ventilation and congestion of chickens

If the bird is molting, there is no need to worry about the whiteness of its comb. When molting concludes, your chicken’s comb will revert to its usual red color.

2. Inadequate oxygen levels

The supply of constant, fresh oxygen is vital for chickens in sustaining life and giving them their normal color appearance.

The gas is also beneficial in reducing the extreme temperature, air pollution, and humidity to favorable limits for confined poultry. Excess moisture, contaminants, and heat can be expelled from the chicken coop through proper ventilation.

That allows your birds to live healthily. But, if the oxygen issue leads to heart and/or liver problems, it may be too late to help your chicken.

3. Frostbite

Initially, a comb under attack by frostbite feels warm and soft when you touch it. As the condition worsens, the organ on a chicken’s head hardens and gets bigger. You may also observe the occurrence of blisters on the comb’s surface.

In the latter stages of a frostbite attack, the chicken comb color usually changes to black. That occurs courtesy of necrosis, yielding destruction of nerves and body tissues.

Generally, frostbite attacks all chicken breeds. Still, breeds with bigger, upright combs may be attacked more regularly.

4. Attack by parasites

An attack by fungus or parasites often contributes to the chicken comb having white spots. There may be the formation of black or yellow patches.

Another prevalent indication of a parasite infestation is when the chicken releases watery droppings and decreases egg production. However, if the comb is falling off and it is clearly infested, the infected part should be cut off to avoid further damage.

5. Anemia

Anemia in chickens may either be caused by blood loss, depression, or abnormally faster destruction of red blood cells. All the different causes of anemia may lead to the death of your chicken.

Some potential signs and symptoms of the condition include weight loss, lethargy, and feather color change.

6. Dehydration

Dehydration and heat exhaustion usually go together. The symptoms of dehydration and heat exhaustion are the same, including tiredness and difficulty in breathing.

Your chicken needs plenty of drinking water to aid in the regulation of its body heat. When the water in the body is insufficient, it becomes dehydrated, which promotes frostbite attacks during the cold months.

Stress is another potential reason why your chicken comb is whitish. Your chicken may be stressed by a dog, children, an injury, a disease, extreme cold and heat, and diet changes.

Remember that immature, egg-laying chickens may also have their combs turning white occasionally.

How to prevent chicken comb from turning white

Frequently monitor the color of the comb to identify potential health issues for earlier treatment. Aside from hormonal changes, most of the issues that cause whitening of the comb are easily treatable.

Keep your chicken’s comb healthy by providing sufficient water, well-ventilated housing, and highly nutritious meals. Vaccinating your chicken against common infections in your local area may also help protect their combs from turning white.

Below are some measures you can take to prevent and get rid of any white color on your birds’ combs:

1. Aeration

Ensure your chicken can breathe freely and does not experience a throat blockage. If the bird is choking or has a respiratory disease, refer the matter quickly to your local poultry vet.

2. Take care of frostbite 

Either strive to safeguard a chicken from frostbite or treat the condition as early as possible. To avoid frostbites during winter, properly insulate the coop, maintain proper flooring and bedding, supply warm meals, and keep chicken breeds hardy to cold.

Chicken breeds that are resistant to extremely cold weather include Chanteclers and Ameraucana. You may not even need to care for the hardy breeds during colder months.

3. Hydrate your chickens

Ensure your chicken is properly hydrated to regulate body temperature and other body processes. Always provide sufficient drinking water. You may also accompany the water with electrolytes and or vitamins to improve healthy living or recovery. Allocate plenty of shades and spots for drinking water.

4. Check for anemia in chickens

If a chicken has anemia, separate it from the rest of the flock and keep her in a structure with the right living conditions. Give the bird enough water and food and protect it from stressors and predators. You should also feed your bird with a bit of salt-less meat to increase iron levels.

6. Improve the quality and nutrients of the feed 

Adjust quantity and type of feed. Especially during weather conditions, other food sources such as bugs may not be available for your bird even as the appetite increases.

Provide your chicken with more healthy food to minimize the impact of frostbite and increase the production of eggs. Feed your flock grains and layer feeds. This can also help prevent white spots on chicken’s comb, which is a sign of poor health and possible infections.

7. Improve their hygiene standards

Combat parasites by adding probiotics in the drinking water and deworming your poultry every four weeks so there is no worm overload.