One of the most noticeable parts of a chicken is the comb. One purpose served by the comb is to regulate the body heat of chickens and variations in comb styles exist largely based on the place of origin of different breeds. For example, combs on chicken breeds from warm climates will be larger than breeds that are native to cold climates. Having a small comb if you are a cold climate bird is also useful in the fight against frostbite as there is less comb present to become frostbitten. Combs are also thought to aid in the attraction of a mate as brightly colored, large combs are an appealing aspect of courtship.
Buttercup Combs are double sided, which makes them appear crown shaped, and feature points reaching from front to back. The beginning of the comb is formed with one point from which the two ridges divide to form a rounded pattern atop the chicken's head. This comb adorns the head of the Sicilian Buttercup breed.
Cushion combs are round in shape as well as small in size. They have no points or ridges and are quite solid in appearance. They begin at the top of the beak and reach only a short distance up the head. Cushion combs can be found on the Chantecler breed.
Pea Combs feature three lengthwise ridges set atop the head reaching from the top of the head to the beak. The ridge in the middle is generally the highest portion of this medium-sized comb. Pea combs can be found on breeds such as Ameraucanas, Buckeyes, Cornish, and Sumatras.
Rose Combs start at the top of the beak in a fleshy tube that is covered in rounded bumps. This makes up about 2/3 of the comb. Towards the end, above the chicken's head, the shape changes and a tube shaped section is formed. Breeds that carry a rose comb are Dominiques, Sebrights, and Wyandottes. Specialized breeding has also made the rose comb possible in some Leghorns, Minorcas, and Rhode Islands.
Silkie Combs are a genetic relation to the Rose Comb and are sometimes
found on Silkie chickens. These combs are lumpy and round as well as
wider than they are long. This type of comb also has a couple of rear
points. Feathering on the head of the bird tends to hide most of this
Single Combs are the most commonly seen and widely recognized type of comb. These are usually upright but in some cases do flop or hang to one side. Many breeds around the world carry a single comb, which takes the form of a straight line that reaches from the beak to the rear of the chicken's head. Atop the single comb sits a series of points. At the end of a comb is a thickened area known as the blade. A few examples of breed with a single comb are the Australorp, Cochin, Delaware, Holland, Jersey Giant, Marans, Minorca, Naked Neck, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, and Rhode Island.
Strawberry Combs are rough in texture and have bumps that cause them to resemble a strawberry, hence their names. It is small in size and can be found on breeds such as Malays and Yokohamas.
V-Shaped Combs (also known as horn or antler combs) have two thick points that branch out to opposite sides forming a V. The points of the V extend from a fleshy base and can vary in size from very small to somewhat large. This comb is found on the Appenzeller, Crevecoeur, Houdan, La Fleche, and Sultan breeds.
Walnut Combs are medium in size and have a surface texture reminiscent
of a walnut shell. It is the result of combining rose and pea combs
through breeding and is found commonly on Silkie chickens.
The nine comb types listed above are recognized by the American Poultry Association. In most cases these are upright and a folded comb is considered a fault, but there are some cases in which folded combs amongst Leghorns are appreciated. What type of comb do your chickens have? Feel free to compare and contrast then let us know!