Both male and female chickens have fleshy growths at the tops of their heads called combs. Wattles are two oblong fleshy growths that hang below their chin.
What are They For?
They both actually have a very important function. Scientists suggest that blood is circulated between the comb and wattles to help keep the chicken cool in hot weather. This gives the comb it’s deep red color and allows the blood to be cooled by the air before traveling through the bird’s body.
In winter however, the comb is prone to frost bite in some breeds. But, little Vaseline on the comb and wattles will protect them from harm.
Another important function of the comb is to help attract a mate. A large bright comb is a sign of health and vitality. The rooster is at the top of the pecking order and his comb larger and brighter than a hen’s. But, even among hens, the brightness and size of a comb often decides who is boss.
Chicks will begin to grow a comb within the first few weeks of their life. The comb also indicates maturity in females, or pullets. When it reaches a bright red, the pullet is usually at her point of lay.
Combs vary in size, shape and color based on sex, age, and the breed of a chicken.
7 most common combs:
More Combs in Detail
The Chicken’s Comb by Dave Anderson from the February/March, 2008 issue of Backyard Poultry.
amy elizabeth, TBN Ranch