Jelly on Chickens? No Thanks!
Ok, so maybe you thought this would be a recipe post. It’s not. I wanted to take a minute to write about Petroleum Jelly for combs and wattles.
The cold weather is coming in fast. We live in New England. We are winterizing coops and preparing our birds for winter. We are often asked “what do you do at The Hatching House to prevent frost bite?”. I can tell you that we don’t use petroleum jelly.
Petroleum jelly (also called petrolatum) can be found under the brand name Vaseline or generic versions just about anywhere. Its super cheap. It has been around since the 1800s and often used to care for skin. So why don’t we use it then?
It is a by-prduct from the oil drilling industry. It was originally found in the bottom of oil rigs and is often used to lubricate the machines. It is refined and clarified for use in the beauty/skin care industry. It just seems gross.
It is said that petroleum helps seal your skin with a water-protective barrier. This helps your skin heal and retain moisture. But there’s a potential downside. A study that was published in Pediatrics in 2000 found that extremely-low-birth-weight infants treated with petroleum jelly were more likely to develop systemic candidiasis; it created a warm, moist place for fungi to grow. This does not sound like an environment I want for my chickens comb/skin.
When finding products to use on our flock we look for natural, readily available and affordable. We chose Coconut Oil.
We mix pure coconut oil with vitamin E, supportive herbs and a bit of bees wax to create a nice balm that we apply to the combs and wattles of our birds. Pure coconut oil works just fine if that's all you have though!
We like Coconut oil because the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties that can help protect against harmful microorganisms, bacteria and fungi. Coconut oil is a tremendous moisturizer but allows the skin to “breath” but offers a barrier from the winter weather. We just warm some up in our hands and massage it into any exposed skin of our birds. We try and do it often but with a large flock it is not always easy! We are thankful it lasts a long time and works so well.
Good luck with your winter! We are about to hunker down for a doozie!