Care of Frostbitten Rooster

Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)February 16, 2006

Our winter has been so relatively mild this year that a bad case of frostbite on my rooster's comb and wattles was the last thing I expected. Nevertheless, he is quite badly frostbitten and we found him quite a distance from his yard, crouched on the gravel in the driveway as though trying to warm himself in the sun. He was quite lethargic and passive.

We brought him into the house and put him in a large carton with wood shavings, food and water and grit. By the next morning he was standing and moving about better, but he is still far from well. Is there anything I can give him or apply to his comb and wattles that would make him more comfortable while he is healing?

A second possible problem is that he is not pooping very much. He is eating a bit, although not with much enthusiasm (except for scrambled egg). Do chickens get constipated? And if so, what would be a good thing to give him?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Try offering him unflavored Pedialyte (from the grocery store in the baby aisle) to drink. It will boost his electrolytes, which is a good thing for sick or stressed birds. I'd keep him away from the other birds until his comb and wattles have healed so they don't pick at him. I don't know of anything you could put on his comb to help...maybe break open a human vitamin E capsule and gently rub a bit of it on there? Is there any danger of infection?

There is no rule saying he only has to have one thing wrong at a could be that he is ill on top of the frostbite and exposure issue. Maybe an illness was what caused him to stay outdoors and fall victim to frostbite...? Feel his breastbone (keel)--has he lost weight? If it feels sharp to your hand, he has. Try offering him any goodies he'll eat, including scrambled eggs, cooked ground beef, live mealworms (from the pet store), diced grapes, raw corn, etc. If he hasn't had access to grass or fresh greens because of snow or cold temps, get some fresh spinach or other greens from the market (NOT iceberg lettuce, it has no nutritional value) for him to eat. Birds cannot get diarrhea from too much green matter, by the way, so don't worry about that.

Other than that, keep him warm and quiet and watch for other signs of illness...

Good luck! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 4:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Thanks, Velvet, for the good suggestions. I'll get him some Pedialyte. I've been giving him scrambled eggs and chopped wheat, rye and oat grass that I grow over the winter for the geese and rabbits. I'll try him on some grapes and some of the other things you mentioned.

He has lost weight, but I don't think a dangerous amount. He has been somewhat thinner ever since his accident last summer when he concussed himself and lost the sight in one eye. Poor old Napoleon... first that and now frostbite. I have him in a huge cardboard box in my kitchen so I can fuss over him and feed him up a bit. My cat, Marilla, is thoroughly disgusted.

There is no sign of infection, just the hard black tips on the comb and a general paleness to the rest of the comb and wattles. I'll see if I can find some Vitamin E... I figure it can't hurt. I've heard aloe vera gel is good too, but I won't have any until I can get to a store. We're getting freezing rain and driving is too dangerous at the moment.

By the way, I looked at your website for information about chicken ailments and care. Nice job, Velvet! A great resource for back-yard chicken people.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 4:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You wont save the damaged comb, it is dead flesh and will turn black before sloughing off. The comb can be cut off with a sharp knife, it will bleed some, apply flour or any blood stopper. Dubbing has a very minimal effect on poultry and eliminates damage from cold. Usually frosted combs, stc has no or very little effect on the bird unless severe. The wattles can be removed too if damaged.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 5:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Or maybe would it be better to not stress the roo even more by doing the surgery? If it sloughs of by itself, maybe just let it when it's ready? Kind of like picking off a scab. Sorry, I may be way off here, just my thought (no experience).

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 12:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

I realize I won't be able to save the blackened parts of the comb or wattles, but I agree with you, MountainMan -- I'd be reluctant to attempt surgery on a bird that is already stressed. Napoleon has had frostite before, but this time he seems to be feeling it more, poor old boy.

I posted on some of the other forums and had several suggestions: vaseline, bag balm, antibiotic ointment. I guess anything that soothes would be helpful.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 3:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
judyag_44(SW FL)

I am very afraid that your Napoleon has a coccidiosis infection. It is a parasitic protozoa that 'overgrows' when chickens are stressed and it sounds like he has had more than his share. The paleness that you mentioned around his facial area is the tip off to me. You may also notice some fecal material sticking to his feathers around his anus and/or a very slight amount of blood in his droppings.

This is more prevalent in young chickens but is not confined to them and is highly likely to infect your flock if they are exposed to your roo. It is passed in the droppings. Chickens are notorious for picking at anything sticking to the feathers of their comrades, too. So, it is imperative that he be kept isolated.

This can be treated, many times very successfully, with a sulfa product. I use Liquid Sulfa-nox which is given in dilute form in the drinking water for five days. You may repeat this process a few days later, also, if you have any doubts about complete recovery. It can be purchased at a farm/feed store inexpensively. I paid $6.59 for a 16 fl oz. bottle.

I certainly would NOT further stress him by doing any cutting on his comb/wattles at this time.

Good luck with your 'guy'!


Here is a link that might be useful: Coccidiosis

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 11:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Maggie,
Even though I am much farther north than you I'm having the same awful weather.This is the 4th straight day of snow squals.I've had roosters and hens with large combs both fall prey to frost bite.Luckly not too bad this year.The frost bitten areas will fall off on their own when they are done scaring.And it really is good to keep him seperate til they do.Darn hens just love to pick at anything differant.
Good luck I hope he heals fast.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 11:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Judy, thanks for the input. I'll do some extra reading about coccidiosis although I don't think that is the problem. No sign of blood in droppings or at the vent. The paleness is just his wattles and they seem somewhat better now. The points of his comb are blackened and will likely drop off soon. I will be keeping him isolated, however, just to be on the safe side.

Ann - Nice to hear from you. The weather is rotten, isn't it? I think I am going to switch to Chanteclers this coming season. Poor birds! I really hate seeing them suffer. At least Chanteclers are bred to handle the cold and are less suseptible to frostbite.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, Maggie,

Also brahmas seem to handle to cold better. I hope your little guy is feeling better soon.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 6:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)

Thanks, Rainidame... I'll take a look at them!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 8:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

well today is now day 5 of snow squals. Maggie I've thought about some other types of hens but I find it very hard to find many breeds around here.and even though they have large combs my columbain rocks and barred rock hens lay very well in the winter here.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 7:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I got my rooster from a friend last summer. His original name was "Mr. Stubbs" for the fact that he had no feet due to frostbite; now we just call him "Henry." He was shunned by the rest of the flock, and when i saw this, i took him in and gave him a happier home. even though he has no feet, he is cheerful as ever, and proud! (Henry wouldn't crow or strut before I took him in). But now he has frostbite on his comb, and i think it's infected because it's turning green. What should i do?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 7:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've had lots of frostbite, but I've never had anything turn green. We have also lost a few toes when it gets REALLY cold, but it never seems to affect the long-term health of the birds. We have had pretty good luck with Barred Rocks and Golden Comets in the cold here. The main problem is getting the eggs before they freeze-- it was -23 F. here this morning. One of my friends has what he calls "oil-filled heaters" that he places under his nest boxes. They seem to keep things just warm enough to keep the eggs from freezing. The heaters look just like those metal heaters that are placed under water dishes.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 5:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know nothing at all about chickens, but can't you close them in on really cold days or put a fence around the coops to contain them so you can herd them in on cold days? Ok, don't pick on me, we have geese and think about getting chickens so this is really a legitimate question.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 6:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It sounds like infection.I've seen the combs on my roosters freeze before but never turn green.Last winter was the hardest for me where frostbite was concerned.The roosters suffered the most but the hardest thing for me was the rooster who lost both feet.Once they dropped off he was fine and got around just was well or better then the birds with feet.It was not something that I had ever seen happen prior to that time and hope never to have happen again.
I named him stumpy and the area children thought it was cool that he had overcome so much and did'nt let it slow him down any.I sure hope the SPCA did'nt put him down when they seized him.That would be the cruelest thing,if this happened.
Maggie-what about salmon favorolles.They have rose combs and are a very handsome bird as well.That is what the rooster mentioned above happens to be.They come in both standard and bantam sizes as well.Sherry

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 1:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cheribelle(Z5 IA)

The SPCA siezed your rooster???

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 9:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Long story,but yes,I had animals taken earlier in the fall.I saw and heard more from them when they were hassling me then I have in the four months since.
The real kicker is that they just raided one of their own shelters in Cape Breton Nova Scotia.The Cape Breton raid is really hurting their credibility.Sherry

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 11:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sherry...I remember when you were going through this...terrible! Have they ever acknowledged your repeated attempts to find out about the animals they took from you? I remember that they were basically ignoring you...

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 2:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have two roosters that have black stuff on their combs. I live in southeastern virginia and the temperature has been around 30-40 degrees. Is this cold enough to consider the blackened combs to be frostbitten?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 9:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Are the roos breeds with large, upright combs? They frostbite more readily...Freezing temps can be enough to cause frostbite, it depends on how long the bird was exposed to the cold--also don't forget to factor in wind chill, which can easily make things much colder.

Also, if the black areas are in raised bumps or clusters of bumps, it could instead be Avian Pox (the 'dry' variety). You can GIS it and compare the online pics to your birds to check it out. Dry pox prefers the comb, wattle areas & the facial skin.

If it IS dry pox, it usually resolves itself within 10-20 days (it's a herpes virus basically) and isn't fatal--most birds don't act sick or show any signs of suffering. Unless there is a secondary health problem that can weaken them most recover without ill effects, although they can remain carriers of the virus.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 4:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh my... I treated my roos frostbitten wattle and comb with lanolin and with in a day his comb darkened. Did I destroy my roos comb?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 8:14AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
lice and ticks on goats
I noticed the other day that my goats have developed...
My rooster Pluto is sick :(
ok, he is not "mine" but we all live together...
mean Turkey
My tom hates my daughter and all little kids is there...
Trumpet vine + chickens = ???
Yes, its a horror. Neighbor has one planted on our...
raising baby ducks to release in private pond
We have a 2 acre pond next to a small cabin on 130...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™