There are three stages of frostbite:
1. First degree - minor, causes irritation of the skin
2. Second degree - causes blisters on the skin, but not major damage
3. Third degree - involves all layers of the skin and causes permanent tissue damage
- Pale, gray, or white tissue on the comb or wattles, usually around the edges
- Feet or toes may appear more red than usual, or tissue may turn dull or white when fully frozen
- The chicken may appear to be in pain and/or show signs of lethargy
- Affected tissue will usually swell and may begin to blister.
- In severe cases, tissue may have a waxy appearance and, if touched, will be firm.
- Eventually, the affected tissue will turn turn black.
- The chicken may show signs of pain, such as lethargy and unwillingness to eat or walk as usual.
- As the affected tissue warms, it will be painful and itchy.
- Infection, particularly gangrene
- Loss of body part, including surgical amputation
- Pecking at painful or itchy tissue, causing further damage
To protect your flock from frostbite, make sure that your coop has adequate ventilation but no drafts. Ensure that there is a way for hot, moist air from respiration and droppings to escape, especially in small coops. You can provide supplemental warmth during very cold weather using a safe, infrared heater near the roost. If a member of your flock is showing symptoms of frostbite, it is advisable to contact your local veterinarian for treatment options. If you don�t have a veterinarian available, you can attempt to treat the chicken at home using these tips.