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Rosecombs - Judging Good vs Bad Rosecombss

When I first started out raising rosecombs for show a number of years ago I was the only breeder in my area. There was a lot of trial an error as I didn't know what to look for and what to avoid when buying birds or culling my flock. The best I could do was read the Standard of Perfection and compare the description to the birds standing in from of me.

I've put this page together to help those starting out in the hobby understand some of the things we as breeders look for and some of the things we try to avoid when raising show quality rosecombs. One of the things I try to remember is that the best breeders out there have worked hard at perfecting their bloodlines over many years. Rarely does anyone start with perfect birds, so don't get discouraged at the beginning of your breeding program if a lot of unwanted defects crop up. Many of the pictures below are from my first generation of birds, so I have a LOT of work to do, but that's a part of the fun and challenge.

When looking for good rosecombs to show or use as for breeding I look for an overall well balanced, healthy bird. A bird with an excellent head but bad wing and tail carriage should quickly be passed over. Look for an alert bird with clear eyes, a good head, round ear lobes, correct comb, short back and good wing and tail carriage. Check for major defects such as duck foot, white in the face and wry tail. After satisfying an initial inspection feather type and color are closely evaluated. It is important to look for good feather width and any poorly colored feathers. This is especially important in white birds as a poorly colored splash rosecomb can be nearly white in color, but genetically is still a splash and will not pass on white offspring. A black bird with a lot of red mixed throughout it's plumage should also be avoided. If a bird has passed all these considerations you most likely have a good quality bird and can look forward to of years enjoyment showing your rosecomb. Also check out Breed Standard for a detailed description of rosecomb type.


Since the head of the rosecomb is one of the most important aspect of the rosecomb, it's important to try to get your comb as correct as possible.

I don't find this guys comb to be all that bad, it's not great, but not terrible either. The spike turns off to the side a little and the surface is a bit rough, but overall it could be a lot worse.


This guy on the other hand is showing a number of distinct faults to watch out for.

The first and most obvious is the double spike. I would never use a bird like this in a breeding program.

The second major fault is the rough surface of his comb. There are a lot of points that are uneven in size and shape combined with hollow sections gives this guys comb a rough uneven look.


This guy not only shows a double spike, but his comb is rough, pale and underdeveloped for his age.

Another fault to watch out for is the large bald spot that extends from the back of the comb. Sometimes this spot will get feathered in as the bird ages, but if it does not I do not like to keep these birds as I find it ruins the look of the head.


This hen's spike takes a sharp turn to the side when it should in fact travel straight back from the base of the comb. While it's hard see, this hen's spike is also inverted, or telescoped, a major fault to avoid if at all possible.


Ear Lobes

Another really important characteristic of rosecombs is their round, white ear lobes. Without a good lobe you don't have a good bird. The rounder the better. Watch out for discoloration, folds and white in the face.

This little guys ear lobes are coming in pretty well at this point. There are no major folds and the shape is quite round so far.

I find that the rounder the ear lobe is in a young bird the better as they have a tendency to get out of shape as the bird ages.


This guys lobes aren't that bad, but I find they are showing what I like to call the 'triangle' effect. As this bird ages his lobes will probably get very out of shape as they are already starting to look trianglish.

Another thing thing to watch out for is white in the face. If you look just above his lobe you will see a small area that is starting to show white. Since this guy is only four months old as he matures this area will get larger. This is a major fault in rosecombs and should be avoided if at all possible, especially in birds this young. It's not such a bad thing in two or three years olds, but in a bird under a year it is very bad.


The young hens ear lobes are coming in nice and round so far.

Feet & Legs

Take a close look at the feet and legs of your rosecomb. Make sure they are the proper color as described in the Standard of Perfection. Also make sure there are no crooked toes or that there is no duck foot. Crooked toes are a big reason I don't like to keep birds on wire mesh, especially as chicks. It's not unusual for chicks to break toes if they get caught in wire mesh, especially if something panics them.

This little guy has nice black leg color, but lacks dark toe nails.


If you look at this guys feet you will notice the leg color is not as dark as that of the bird above.

A major fault with this bird is he has duck foot. If you look at the top foot you will notice that the back toe faces forward and touches the front toes. The bottom foot on the other hand has the toe facing away from the rest of the foot. This doesn't just show up when the bird is held, but also when he is allowed to walk freely. The back toe on one foot faces forward. Always cull these birds from a flock.



Good feather type really shows off a good quality bird. Everything else being equal, always select the bird with the best color and feather type for your breeding program.

If you take a look at the guy you will notice that he has adult feathers and baby feathers visible on the same wing. The baby feathers are much shorter and have white tips on them, while the adult feathers are larger and are solid black. I find it's not unusual for chicks and young birds to have white tipped feathers. I would never cull one of these birds out of a flock as more often than not when the adult feathers come in they will be solid black.


This guy is showing red in his plumage. Many believe that this type of rooster breeds the best and most intense beetle green shine into the next generation. The choice to cull or keep birds like these is as an individual choice of each breeder.


If you look closely you will see some stress marks in the feathers of this bird. I would not necessarily cull a bird like this. Purple barring in a feather can also be a sign of stress, not a genetic defect.


Here is a close up of some nice lacing on the chest of a young a blue rosecomb. The blue color on this bird is also nice and clear. There is no flecking or specs of black or darker blue throughout the feather.

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