That red ‘thing’– it’s so familiar! One cannot think of a chicken without thinking of its wattle (located beneath the beak) and its comb (located on its head). These quirky body parts are actually incredibly important to a chicken’s well-being. Here’s why:
The wattle and comb are not simply hanging pieces of flesh– they are packed with capillaries and veins. A chicken cannot sweat, so it keeps warm and cool by naturally regulating its blood circulation. Overheated blood passes through the vibrant system of microscopic passageways in the wattle and comb. And as the blood flows along through, it is cooled. Now that explains such a deep-red color!
Kids and Grownups:
Immature chicks have no wattles or combs– chickens develop them as they mature. Almost like hair and a beard, most chickens develop their combs before their wattles, and male chickens (cockerels) usually develop before hens. The whole process takes about 3 to 6 weeks, and you can tell when a female chick (a pullet) is about ready to begin laying eggs and become a hen: At about the same time their combs and wattles begin to turn from yellow to pink and red.
Attracting Lady Hens:
Cockerels with larger and bolder combs tend to attract more hens than cockerels with combs of a lighter tone and floppier nature.
Wattles and combs are even more important because they act as indicators of your chicken’s health. If you notice any changes in the comb and wattle– fading of color, flopping, abnormal growths– your chicken may be sick. So keep wattle watching. A single infection can quickly spread to your entire flock.
If you consistently upkeep your hen house, cleaning and keeping all things in order (Learn How), you will surely enjoy what your chickens produce for you– and they will be thankful for your care!
For the most comprehensive hen house cleaning, we highly recommend considering an Epoxy floor. Please give us a call if you’d like to learn more- we look forward to hearing from you! Lancaster Chicken Coops are handmade right here in Lancaster, PA.