Chicken combs come in many different shapes and sizes from rose combs to buttercup combs. Kaylee Vaughn writes here about eight distinctive comb types.
A chicken’s comb is the fleshy red appendage on the top of its head. Combs come in all shapes and sizes and vary greatly depending upon the breed. While combs certainly add some extra pizazz to a chicken’s appearance, different comb types also serve a functional purpose.
Combs are a wonderful indicator of a chicken’s health. Bright fleshy combs indicate vigor. Combs are especially important to roosters, as they signify the rooster’s sexual health and testosterone levels.
Combs also help chickens regulate their body temperature, which is why combs come in so many different sizes! Breeds that have large combs are able to circulate blood faster through their combs, which helps to release body heat. However, breeds that have smaller combs retain more body heat. This is why many breeds from warm climates have large combs (like single combs and buttercup combs) while breeds from colder regions have smaller combs (like pea and rose combs).
Understanding the different comb types can also help you better identify what breed a chicken is. To help you out, we are going to discuss eight common comb types and some of the breeds that typical exhibit them.
Eight Common Chicken Comb Types:
Single combs are the most common and most easily recognizable comb shape. The comb forms a single straight line, extending from the beak to the top of the head. This type of comb can stand straight up or it may fall to the side and the comb can have multiple points.
Some breeds with this comb type: Rhode Island Red, Leghorns, Cochins, Australorps
Rose combs generally sit fairly flat against the head. They usually have a bumpy, wrinkled look that thins out and comes to a point towards the top of the chicken’s head. Depending on the breed, the point of the comb may stand up or lay flat against the back of the head.
Some breeds with this comb type: Dominiques, Wyandottes, Sebrights
The pea comb gets it’s name from the little round bumps on the comb that resemble peas. Most commonly, pea combs have 3 rows of “peas” or bumps that run lengthwise up from the beak. The center row is usually slightly taller than the outside rows. The pea comb is generally small, positioned tightly against the chicken’s forehead and forms a point at the end or tip of the comb.
Some breeds with this comb: Brahmas, Ameraucanas, Cornish
Strawberry combs sit flat against the chicken’s forehead and are generally bumpy and rounded. They may even slightly overlap the beak in a rounded shape. They obviously gained their name due to the comb’s resemblance to a strawberry’s texture. This comb shape can easily be confused with the rose comb, however, strawberry combs do not form a point like the rose comb does.
Walnut combs are some of the most unique looking combs! They are large, flat, rounded, and bumpy – just like a walnut shell! The silkie is the primary breed that demonstrates this comb shape. It is easiest to see this comb shape on roosters because silkie hens have a much smaller comb and it may be hard to distinguish the walnut shape.
Breeds with this comb: Silkie
The cushion comb is a small rounded comb that sits close to the front of the head. There are no points on it. This comb is easy to confuse with the rose comb, but cushion combs are usually smaller and generally have a more rounded appearance.
Breeds with this comb: Chanteclers
V-shaped combs are often called “horns” because they resemble two little red horns sitting on the chicken’s head! These combs get their name from their unique shape, which splits at the base with two points in a “V” shape.
Breeds with this comb: Sultans, Polish, Houdans
Buttercup combs are large and are quite lovely! They sit high on the top of the head and form a crown-shape. They have two large ridges with points and a smaller ridge in the middle.
Breeds with this comb: The Sicilian Buttercup is the only breed with this comb and the comb derives its name from the breed.