What is a chicken "comb?"

This hen has a tall, red comb. She is ready to lay eggs!Do you use a comb for your hair? A chicken has a comb too, but its comb has a very different purpose.

A chicken's comb sticks up from the top of its head. The comb feels soft and smooth. Tiny points stick up from the top of the comb. The points make the comb look kind of like a comb you would use for your hair.

The comb actually helps a chicken stay cool. Unlike a human, a chicken can't sweat. To cool off, its blood goes into the comb. Because the comb sticks up from the head, it stays cooler than the rest of the chicken's body. When the blood goes into the cool comb, the blood cools down too.

A healthy red comb is also a sign that a chicken is ready to mate. A male or female with a red comb is attractive to other chickens. If a comb is lighter or darker than usual, it may be a sign that the chicken is sick.

Male and female chickens have different kids of combs. Males usually have a bigger comb. The comb size and shape is also different between different breeds of chicken. Combs are usually red, but they can also be purple in some breeds. Young chickens have pink combs.

Some farmers used to remove their chickens' combs so that the combs wouldn't become injured or infected later. This practice is less common today.

Fun fact

The scientific name for chickens is Gallus domesticus. The word "gallus" actually means "comb in Latin.

Learn more about different types of chicken combs