Chicken combs are one of the most identifiable parts of a chicken. Nearly all chickens have them, but similar to their feathers or eyes, each is a little bit different. Some chicken combs, for example, are bright-red, while others are black; some stick straight up, while others run along the skull. But what, exactly, do chickens combs do? Here we answer all of the questions you may have about your chickens and their combs.
Chicken combs are actually an organ, similar to the heart or kidneys, except that it’s outside of the body rather than inside it. The majority of chickens have combs, although cockerels (young males) will develop their combs earlier than pullets (young females). By the time chickens mature, roosters will have larger combs than hens.
What is the purpose of chicken combs?
A comb serves several functions including the following:
Controlling body temperature
Since chickens can’t sweat, their combs and wattles serve to cool their body in the summer and keep their body warm in the winter.
If you want to know about the health of your chickens, then look at their combs. A healthy comb will have a full color and feel firm, even waxy, to the touch. An unhealthy comb, meanwhile, may look pale, shrunken, or change colors. A white comb, for instance, may be a sign of ringworm, while white or black tips is a sign of frostbite.
The size of a rooster’s comb not only shows how healthy he is, but it also represents his testosterone level. When selecting a mate, hens want to mate with the strongest and healthiest of the roosters to ensure the health of their offspring. As a result, a rooster with a bigger comb will appear more attractive to the hens in a flock.