Frostbite on Barn Chickens

Still cold. Do you see Daisy’s breath?


First  something pretty: The Old Codger has given me his snow shoes .. aren’t they wonderful. When I walk the dogs across the snow in the morning I shall be wearing these . presents-008

I look forward to our morning walk.

And now for something not so pretty. The arctic storm has left its mark on some of the chickens. The poor old barn chooks especially the white Leghorns have frostbite on their combs. It is cold now, but it has been evil cold these last few days.

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Their combs and wattles have gone creamy and puffy, and then darker by the day. The areas will blacken and then fall off.(One of the roosters has a completely black comb already)  These girls will always bear the scars of the Storm of 2014.

They have heat lamps  but as you know in the night time they roosted above the lights, keeping their feet warm, but their heads were exposed.  I have very tingly stingy toes myself from the cold, my feet got the worst of it, and a thumping headache which should get better today as the air warms up, so I think they will all have the same feeling in their heads and will hopefully improve as we drift back up to freezing point. They will need some extra TLC though.

We also need to watch for infection so I will try and catch all the afflicted girls over the next few nights and pop them into the warmer chook house,  then I can keep a better eye on them.


It seems to me that geese don’t just fly South For the winter they fly South ALL winter.

It was a little warmer again yesterday so the tractor started on the first try and John was able to merrily scoop snow and dump it in untidy piles in out of the way places. Happiness filled.

Have a lovely day.

Your friend on the farmy.


74 Comments on “Frostbite on Barn Chickens

  1. Now that I would pay hard cash to see! I have visions of all your girls in splendid jester-style red hats, and the rooster an especially large crown-type confection. Perhaps matching legwarmers? Of course, this would lead to jealousy among the other ladies. I can only imagine what Miss Sheila would say if the chooks got ahead in the fashion stakes!

  2. I love the new snow shoes!
    Poor chicken – I think Viv does need to make them hats, though they might not wear them 😦

  3. i have same style of snowshoes, they can support 250# me, so you will float across snow.just remember to walk bowlegged like john wayne.
    snert, a former dog used to get tired of breaking her own trails in snow, and jump on back of my snowshoe,,faceplants in snow are not as much fun to do as they are to watch
    in my younger days it was one of the things that we put on someone that had a bit much to drink, and watch him attempt to walk across yard.

  4. I learned, attach them to boots, and then put boots/snoshoes on after you go down porch steps.
    steps are impossible, and trying to jump off porch, landing upright will not always go as planned

    • You sooo funny Ron!!!! Love your sense of humor!!! Great advice too! I’ll keep that in mind! 😀

  5. thanks Ron, I was looking at the snow shoes and wondering just how they work? Are they just short wide ski’s or do you lift foot and place down again? Just curious , have no clue!

    Viv how about matching socks and comb hats, maybe a little chin strap too 🙂 Poor Chick-a-dees.
    Hope you keep getting warmer everyday now C. Laura

    • If you can walk you can snowshoe. Cross-country skiing is completely different. Skis glide, but snowshoes do not. Poles are used for both, but in differentl ways. Cross-country skiers use their poles for propulsion, for snowshoeing they are used for balance and checking in front of you! I cross-country ski and would really like to start snowshoeing!!! Been looking at them for a few years now. I can use them more often that the skiis too!

      • Okaaay – think I’ll stick to my thong sandals, cause I can see where I’ll be spending my time 🙂 Laura

          • snowhoes distribute your weight over wider area, so you do not sink in deep snow,
            usually i fell forward or sideways when feets get tangeled up,, have been worrying about tailbones all morning

  6. Is it not possible to make hoods for the chooks….it sounds funny, but it would kee the frost off.probably too late now..poor chooks

  7. I think the knitted hen and rooster hats sounds like a wonderful idea Vx. They will need to be ski mask style to cover the wattles as well.

    The snow shoes are a great!

  8. It would be a pleasure to try out the old style snow shoes Celi, much nicer I’m sure than the plastic ones. The thing is if you wear the old style ones I think it’s compulsory to wear tweed skirts too 🙂
    Sorry to hear about the chooks, I guess its a case of care and wait and see

  9. Wishing you all the luck in the world, Ceci. Seems so weird that you are suffering such cold when we are entering yet another heatwave.

    • Are you in Australia? I heard that temps have been as high as 170 degrees!!! Yikes!

  10. Sorry to hear about your chickens. I like your description of the scars of the winter of 2014. Our chickens also carry these scars. I hurt right a long with them. Last year our favorite rooster, George, froze his waddle. It ballooned up so he couldn’t hold his head up, let alone eat or drink. We were considering putting him down, poor thing, but then one of my daughters read on line how you can try lancing to relieve the built up fluid. Now George is an amazing Rhode Island Red rooster. The first year I ordered hens, he came by mistake. I never realized all the jobs a rooster does until we had George. George has one bad habit, he attacks my husband. Well when it came time to do the lancing, it was my husband who did it. Love that man. Dan lanced George’s waddles before we went to bed, we said good bye to George(we didn’t think he would make the night). The next morning we woke to the most glorious sound. George crowing in our kitchen. It’s nice to have happy endings. By the way check out the Chantecler breed of chicken, only Canadian breed. They have small combs and are very cold hardy, lovely breed. Stay warm. Linda from up in ND.

    • Good to know Linda! Thanks for the info! I had a rooster that cut up my cheek! He was a nasty thing! Watch your eyes!!! RI Reds are lovely birds, not fun to clean though.

    • You can “dub” a chicken’s comb and wattles by simply cutting them off, or trimming the affected areas. Just use a pair of sharp scissors. It heals very quickly. Another good chicken choice is the Dominique. It has a rosecomb, which makes it more hardy in severe cold, but is also hard-feathered enough not to suffer in the summer heat. Several people have them in the Midwest and they’ve done fine in this cold The furthest north is South Dakota.

      • Thank you jan, every year I buy a different breed so i know that age of the chickens at a glance. The poor old Leghorns have huge floppy combs, this was their downfall..the reds and gold are all fine.. c

        • I like the Buff Orpingtons. Good meat birds! Eggs are small but I don’t mind that. 🙂 They are very easy to clean and when you are cleaning a lot of them….that is a very nice feature! I get mine from McMurray Hatcheries.

  11. Animals suffer so much in extreme weather conditions, I feel so sorry for them. Viv’s knitted hats sound a good idea for the chooks! Love the snow shoes, just don’t fall over in them!

  12. Oh, those poor chooks! I’m happy to hear that they won’t have any health problems from the shortened comb, just a little loss of pride.

    And the things you have to think about up in these northern climes. For example, I’d never heard of permafrost until I went to plant my tomatoes this year and the soil said “No way!” to me.

    I don’t envy you trying out those snowshoes. I believe there is an art to walking in them, so I’d tie a cushion to my backside during the testing of them if I were you. I’m always amazed over here to watch people walk on snow and ice with ease. They’ve lived with it all their lives. Me? I slip over just looking at the ice. And negotiating deep snow is like trying to walk up a sand dune!

  13. I think I have heard of people using vaseline or a similar petroleum product on the wattles and combs of their chickens and roosters during extreme cold. Of course, you have to catch the silly creatures in order to smear them with goop, but it might be worth a try in the future?

    • Morning juliana, I hope we do not have another bad storm like this again for a while.. it is rare to get that cold here for that long..But they are all being caught and locked up in the chook house for the winter.. no more free range chooks for a while.. c

  14. Another special line to add to the ‘sale’ items of candles and soaps.

    Viv’s hoodies & leg-warmers for chooks”!

  15. Oh Celi!!!! Poor chickens!!! I know…I had leghorns and they really like to roost hight up in the barn. Look out below!!!! LOL So sad about their frost bite… 😦
    Love your snow shoes! They are beautiful!!!! At the end of this season I am going to snag a pair to trek along next winter with Summer…she will be big enough then. Ordered her snow boots and a e warm winter parka! Pink! 😀 I really like those snow shoes the old codger parted with! He’s a good friend! I’ll bet he gets a kick out of you! Spider Woman gone Snow Shoer!!! 🙂
    You should be getting some warmth soon. Today it is above zero here! Supposed to last a week! Nice warm winds coming across our area for a while. Yay! Summer is doing great! Working on leash training! I am afraid to take her out at night without it cuz she likes to run and she is very fast for a little puppy!!!! LOL Doing great with crate training and last night she slept almost all the way through!!! I finally got some much needed sleep! Love to Boo and Marmalade!
    How are Sheila and Mama doing?
    Take care my friend! ((((Celi))))) Muah! Good day to the Fellowship!

  16. Poor Hens! My crew are surviving and no sign of frost bite, although one of them has decided to go into her moult right now – silly girl!!
    I have problems with my feet in the cold, suffer badly from Chilblains and have to get my Mum to send special cream over from the UK as its not heard of over here!
    Oliver (little grey kitten) went missing this morning. Wasn’t here for his 5am breakfast (JJ was though). Called and Called, no Oliver. Did a Celi and walked my property and the road outside in my PJs dressing gown, slippers and torch calling and searching – no Oliver. Waited until it got light and searched again, this time for a little frozen body, fur, blood, anything to tell me what had happened – nothing. Sat and drank cup of tea after cup of tea sobbing, when at 9:30am who comes through the cat door like he hasn’t a care in the world but Oliver!! Not a mark on him, although JJ did pin him to the floor and gave him a good wash, but I think it was because he was as worried as I was. Bloody Cat nearly gave me a heart attack!!

  17. So sorry to hear of the chickens’ frost bite, that’s awful. Does it hurt for them? Many years ago we had to leave the cottage because the propane began to turn to a liquid and thus unable to heat the cottage, it was -40°C! Our cars wouldn’t start and we were outside for several hours. Even though we had snowmobile suits and boots on, the cold wore us out and my feet literally froze. I had to have help to remove my boots! My BIL (not then because I was just 16) massaged my feet to try to get the circulation back, the pain was incredible. Surprisingly and thankfully, I didn’t get frost bite! I guess my toes were quite accustomed to being cold all the time so it didn’t seem that different to them, but boy did it hurt! I hope the chickens don’t have pain.
    I’m glad it’s beginning to warm up there too, by Saturday they are saying that we will have +6°C! Can you believe it? Perfect yoyo weather to catch a cold in! My head has been aching too, have you tried an espresso? I find sometimes it helps when the weather is really wonky. Once I had such a headache, it was debilitating until a storm came through and the first thunder and lightening boom, it was gone! Go figure!
    Stay warm and cozy, the better weather is coming soon.
    Eva XOXO

    • More coffee!! And excellent idea Eva.. thank you.. There is a rumour that it may rain here tomorrow.. RAIN.. bonkers.. c

  18. Looks like mine got a touch of frostbite too. Just my Rhode Islands though, the Buff Orpington has a small enough comb she seems to have been spared.

    • I think we should all get the small combed varieties from no on.. Something I never even thought of!,, glad your came through ok.. c

    • Yep! That’s what I raise. Nice and easy, non aggressive Buff Orpingtons! Posted above where I get mine! 🙂

      • Love my Buff, Goldie. She is a sweet bird. The other two Reds are good egg layers and scratchers but not nearly as friendly. But by not as friendly I mean don’t readily like being picked up and played with. I only have 3 and I have two little kids so the chickens have ended up more like pets and are pretty spoiled. 🙂

  19. Your posts make me so happy. Even the ones with hard realities in them. I just wanted to tell you that, because I read almost every day!

    • Jennie i am thrilled that you are out there and reading every day, thank you.. have a lovely lovely day.. c

  20. Artic Muck Boots and Extreme Alpaca socks are our answer to frigid weather here in Montana. We see all the farmers wearing the Muck boots and my young great grandsons wear them, too. They are pricey but warm feet are worth the cost.

    • Thank you Melina, Boo ate my thermal boots and I am reduced to my NZ gumboots, but I really must invest in a good pair of boots again,which was bad luck really.. I will investigate these Artic Muck boots.. i need something that can get filthy! c

  21. We used to have Silver Laced Wyandottes with rose combs. Never any frostbite and they are a heavy bird that are very cold hardy. Now, for some reason, we have Barred Rocks with single combs and I see that the very tips have turned black. So, next replacement chic will have rose combs again. Sigh,

      • I like your idea of different breeds every year to keep track of age. Better than leg bands which are hard to see at a glance. Have you tried any of the Polish breeds for fun value? They are funny and docile with their top hats.

    • I know, poor wee things, all but one have been caught amongst much flapping and trauma and taken back to the Chicken more freedom for the big combed ones! c

  22. Me too, I have a silver spangled Hamburg and always wondered about her little crown like comb…now I know it’s a rose comb! I just looked them up and the blurb says they’re very cold hardy…..not that that’s a problem here in heatwave heaven! Glad you’re a bit warmer today.

  23. So sorry your chooks got hit. Those tiny appendages are so vulnerable. When I adopted my kitty, he had no ear tips from being on his own most of his life. Needless to say, I tell Henry daily that he ought to be very grateful not to me out in it this year. Also, needless to say, he’s not impressed.

  24. Am glad you have the snoiw shoes as an extra, safe way to get around! Had no idea of the problems extreme cold could cause to poultry ~ quite a story to tell my neighbours many of whom, coming from Europe, did not speak English and had to leave their erstwhile professional careers and studies behind – they all ran poultry farms here originally – that is how my Village came into being!! With the coldest days -2-3 C that was one problem they fortunately did not encounter!!!

  25. I never thought of chickens and frostbite! Poor things. Here’s hoping the rest of the winter is mild so you can all walk on solid ground and feel warm inside and out. P.S. I tried snow shoes once but gave up in about 3 minutes. Just sayin……. 🙂

  26. We live in Indiana and our chickens have frostbite for the second time now. Our leghorns girls, Blue Andalusian & New Hampshire roosters are most afflicted. We do not have electricity in the barns. Wish we did….brrrr. Hope spring comes quickly!

    • I am so grateful we have electricity, though I would LOVE to have running water out there, carrying buckets when the hoses are frozen is such a job! I hope yours don’t get hit a third feels like winter has only just started.. c

  27. I always make a special request to the Universe each night for protection and comfort for the animals and birds – they are far tougher than we are… and yet they don’t complain. Bless them.

  28. Love the snow shoes, how kind of the Old Codger to bless you with them. Sorry to hear about the chickens’ frostbite. Hopefully no harm will come from it.

  29. You put the chickens in the freezer far too soon!
    Hope I am right in thinking the frostbitten bits are ones they don’t really need.

  30. One of my hens got frost bite before the ‘polar vortex.’ She has a broken comb and the part that broke (flops to the side) got a black spot on it. We have been keeping her inside on nights that are below 15 degrees (it’s a small urban flock). Her black spot has turned white and greyish pink. It seems to be reversing. Has anyone found this?

    From what I know about my own frostbit toes, it never totally reverses, but I’m hoping it will reverse some and she won’t lose a chunk of her comb.

    • many of mine have this white and greyish look, i am also hoping that this means it is not such a deep burn.. c

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