If you’ve kept chickens for any amount of time, you might have heard a few myths. Everything from breeding to intelligence to care is always under speculation. One of the most widely spread myths pertains to chicken earlobes. You might have heard of this myth before, or maybe you never noticed your chickens have earlobes. Let’s look at chicken earlobes – what to know!
Where Are Chicken Earlobes?
Chicken’s ears are located on either side of the head above the chicken wattles and behind the eye. The ear is covered with fine feathers to protect it from dirt and mites. And while chickens don’t have external ears, they do have a small flap of skin just under the ear canal. This fleshy colored skin might be small and unnoticeable or large and thick depending on the breed. You might have even mistaken it for part of the chicken wattle.
The Earlobe Myth
Chickens earlobes can come in a variety of colors, from red to blue to white or iridescent. The myth is that your chicken’s earlobe color determines the color of eggs your hen will lay.
For example, if your hen has white lobes, it will lay white eggs. And if your chicken has red lobes, they usually lay brown eggs. Blue lobes equal light cream eggs and so forth. Everyone likes to reference birds like Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns to verify this rule. So it might be true in some cases. But you might have thought of a few exceptions to this rule already.
Some exceptions that we can come up with are:
- Ameraucana who have red lobes and lay blue eggs.
- Araucanas also have red lobes and blue eggs.
- Easter Eggers have red lobes and lay a variety of colored eggs.
- And Empodanesas who have white lobes and lay chocolate brown eggs.
- Penedesencas also have white lobes but lay dark brown eggs.
There are many more exceptions to this rule, but we won’t go into all of them. It’s just important to remember that it’s not always true that you can tell the egg color by looking at chicken earlobes.
So Is There Science Behind This?
Scientists all over the world have set to answer the question, “Do chicken earlobes determine egg color?” We particularly like the report done by Genetics.Org. After studying various crosses, they ultimately determined that there is no link between chicken earlobes egg color. It is a coincidence in the few chicken breeds that this rule seems real. But considering there are hundreds of breeds where this is not true, we are busting this myth. Chicken earlobes – what to know doesn’t include egg color.
Where Did The Myths Start?
It’s unclear where this myth started. Some think that it might have been true at one point ages ago. But our chickens are all a complex blend to create new breeds with superior genetics. There seems to be a link between chicken earlobe color and their egg color in some cases. But since there are exceptions to this, it’s not exactly a rule. So what does determine the color of chicken earlobes and egg color?
Where Does Egg Color Come From?
The biggest deciding factor in egg color is due to breeding. A mixed-breed chicken could have red lobes and lay cream-colored eggs. You see, all eggs start as white. And as they develop in the oviduct, they get pigmentation that is determined by genetics.
If a pigment called oocyanin is present from the beginning, the egg will be the same on the outside as inside. But if the egg gets protoporphyrin at later stages, your egg will be white inside and colored outside. Knowing this, breeders created a variety of mixed breeds to produce many different egg colors.
What Determines Earlobe Color?
Genetics are responsible for your chicken’s earlobe color. In many cases, your chicken’s combs and wattles are the same color as the lobes, which is determined by breed. And in other cases, there might be a sex-link to what color your chicken’s earlobes are.
Chicken Earlobe Health
You wouldn’t think it, but chicken earlobes can give you the first signs of illness. When doing your daily health checks, you should check for:
- The skin is smooth and not rough.
- The earlobes don’t look ashen.
- All color looks normal.
- And no scabs or dried blood.
What could all of these things mean? Let’s look at chicken earlobes – what to know about illness.
Chicken earlobes are delicate and scab easily. If you notice lots of dry scabby skin in the earlobes wattles, mites could be the issue. The simple solution to mites is to give your chickens a dust bath mixed with Diatomaceous Earth. This mixture will choke out the mites, and the DE will kill all eggs and larvae.
Fowl pox could cause white lumps and dark scabs on the wattles, combs, and lobes. There is no proven cure for fowl pox, but you can prevent it by vaccinating all of your flock. It only takes one hen to get sick for it to spread like wildfire.
Ear infections are usually the result of another underlying illness like respiratory infection or mites. But in either case, an ear infection could make your chicken scratch excessively, causing scabs. Treating the condition will help alleviate some of the pain, but your chicken will also need antibiotics. If your chicken has an ear infection for too long, it could cause permanent neurological damage.
Favus Or Ringworm
Despite what you might think, ringworm is actually a fungal infection of the skin. In chickens, they can get favus on their wattles, combs, and earlobes. It will look like rough, flakey scabs that range in yellow or off white. You can treat ringworm with an over-the-counter cream called miconazole. Applying twice a day for two weeks will solve the issue beautifully.
An egg bound hen has an egg stuck in the oviduct that it can’t pass alone. You know your hen is egg bound if she has the telltale sign of the penguin walk. She could also have symptoms like paling of the skin, lethargy, and sitting a lot. With a few tricks like Epsom salt baths and increasing calcium, you can help your hen pass the egg.
Are your chicken earlobes turning white? This could be a sign that your hens are stressed. Cramped conditions, severe weather, or other illnesses could cause your flock to become stressed. If they don’t feel comfortable, the blood can drain from their faces as a first sign. Other signs of stress include reduced laying and eating. Finding the source of the stress and removing it will get your hens feeling great again.
In the cold of winter, your hens are susceptible to frostbite. If you notice blackened spots on the faces, frostbite might be the culprit. To prevent it, you can do a few things like keeping the coop clean and ventilated. You can also slather their faces in a bit of vaseline to prevent moisture from building up.
Chickens can become anemic just like humans can. Without enough iron, your hens will become lethargic and lose a little color in their skin and legs. Feeding a well-balanced diet will prevent anemia along with any other health problems. But anemia can also be the result of having untreated mites. Checking your hens regularly for mites will prevent excessive blood loss.
Some chicken breeds are more prone to heart disease than others, especially larger breeds. Blue or purple chicken wattles, combs, and lobes could be a sign that your hen has a heart condition. If the heart isn’t pumping hard enough, the blood circulation isn’t up to par. If you suspect that your chicken has a heart condition, make an appointment with your aviary specialist. Your vet may choose to treat with medication and a diet change.
In some cases, a sore on chicken earlobes are just a result of the pecking order. We appropriately call these pecking sores. Chickens like to take cheap shots on each other, so the earlobes are fair game to them. You know it’s a pecking sore if the sore looks clean with no puss. Keeping a bit of Neosporin on it will prevent further infection and speed up the healing.
Last on our chicken earlobes – what to know is about the laying season. If your pullets are young, you might be able to predict the first lay by looking at their earlobes. Paling lobes in a pullet could mean that your hens are about to start laying. Some breeds show the same paling of the lobes right before they lay every spring. Once they lay their first few eggs, the lobes return to normal.
And That’s A Wrap
As you can see, chicken earlobes have nothing to do with egg color. While it would be an excellent indicator when making hybrids, it’s not true. But they are the gateway to your hen’s health. Keeping an eye on them daily can prevent or catch illnesses before they become out of control.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!