Protecting Chickens Against Frostbite

January 21, 2011

The chickens were not happy with me yesterday. Roxanne was particularly vocal with her complaints. It’s because I decided to put Vaseline on their combs and wattles to protect against frostbite. This “little dab’ll do ya” business has put us all in a bad mood.

The girls didn’t see the point. What they did see was me being mean and nasty as I smeared sticky goo over their crowns while they flapped and squirmed. Have you ever tried putting Vaseline on a chicken? It gets everywhere. I now have Vaseline on my coat and my gloves as well as their entire heads not just the intended parts. Of course the girls immediately tried to rub it off and I saw Ruby eating a glob off Roxanne. They’ll eat anything once.

If you’re wondering why I was doing this, it’s a matter of guilt. With the overnight temperatures predicted to be -15ºF to -20ºF I knew that even with additional heat the coop temperature would drop below freezing and I wanted to add as much extra protection as I could. Gail Damerow, the nation’s foremost chicken expert, advises “Coat combs and wattles with petroleum jelly as insulation against frozen moisture in the air.” Who am I to disagree?

Well, the chickens weren’t buying it and just looked at me accusingly with their sticky heads covered in bits of straw and food.  I could almost hear them thinking “If you’re so worried about us, why can’t we spend the night in your warm cozy house?” I didn’t let them guilt me quite that much. I just put another layer of Vaseline on each one when I put them to bed last night.

As of this morning, the girls seemed to have survived the night frostbite-free. Thank goodness. However, they’re filthy dirty. Everything sticks to their heads and their feathers are black. I now have four grease balls bobbing around still looking at me accusingly.

This weekend? I’ll probably have to bring them inside for a shampoo, blow dry, and “comb out”. Life with chickens is never dull.

4 Responses to “Protecting Chickens Against Frostbite”

  1. April 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm, Christine Harder said:

    Just found your blog via Under a Blue Moon’s blog! I know this is an old post, but I read it and had a good laugh! Thanks so much, I needed it! :)


    • April 28, 2011 at 9:04 pm, admin said:

      I’m so glad you wandered on over. Welcome! It’s always nice to make people laugh so I’m happy to oblige. Can’t wait to check out your blog, it looks fascinating.


  2. January 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm, adelina said:

    love this article! i have to agree ” life with chickens is never dull”.
    one of my hens usually has a light, pale shade of purple color on her comb and im still wondering if she has frostbite. i think i’ll try to coat her comb with a little of vaseline and hoping that she will “behave”!

    keep up a great site!


    • January 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm, admin said:

      So nice to hear from you. Hopefully your hen doesn’t have frostbite, it’s always a worry in these cold climates. Haven’t used the Vaseline this year but it’s getting cold this week so who knows….


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