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Tips & tricks to help you with your journey keeping backyard chickens.

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Chicken Poo Guide

Chicken health

Your chicken’s poo will differ depending on what they eat and the season, but can also be an indicator of their health.  A good guide is to monitor your chicken’s poo and note any differences. By monitoring your chicken’s output, you can often get an early indication that something is wrong. To get an understanding of chickens’ digestive systems I recommended you read the chicken digestive system first.

Normal Chicken Poo

Chicken poo can look vastly different from chicken to chicken, depending on the temperature outdoors, and what the chicken has eaten.
Most healthy chicken poo is fairly firm brownish, greenish or grey and has the cap of urates which have a white tinge.

Runny chicken poop is not always a reason to be concerned. If the temperature outside is hot, chicken poo will be much runnier than usual due to the increase in fluid intake. 

If your flock is free-range and have a diet high in grass, weeds, and leafy green treats, you may find that green poo is ‘normal’ for your flock.

Chickens that are under stress produce more liquid than usual as stress increases blood pressure. Have you ever chased a chook and she’s released a runny poo on your shirt?

A healthy chicken passes a ‘normal’ poo around 12 to 15 times a day, including at night.

➡️ Caecal Poo

Chickens can also produce caecal poo. Caecal poo is produced from the caecum of the chicken and expelled every 8-10 droppings. It is generally thicker and stickier than normal, can range from yellow to black in colour, and has a particularly nasty smell. As unpleasant as it might be, caecal poo is a good indication that the digestive tract is working properly.

➡️ Broody Hens

Big piles of brown-looking poo are from broody hens. These hens spend most of their time sitting on eggs while withholding their poo. When they get a chance to relieve themselves, their poo comes out in the form of piles of smelly brown chicken droppings that are large. This type of broody poo is quite normal.

Abnormal Chicken Poo

While healthy poo can vary in size, texture, smell, and appearance, there are a number of major things to look out for that are warning signs for your chook’s health.

➡️ Wormy Poo

If you have seen worms in your chicken’s poo, this means they have a worm infestation and should be medicated appropriately. It’s important to treat the whole flock as worms can easily spread from bird to bird. We have a variety of easy worming solutions. For more information, you can check out our worming guide.

➡️ Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea generally has a runny and greasy consistency and is often yellow or mustard in colouring. It can be the result of the occasional hiccup in their diet, where your chicken has feasted on something their stomach just doesn’t agree with. If it is a regular occurrence, it should be checked, as it can be a sign of internal parasites such as worms.

➡️ Clear Watery Chicken Poo

Clear watery chicken poo which is out of character for your flock or persistent. This type of poo can be an indicator of kidney damage,  infectious bronchitis, vent gleet, internal diseases, and stress.

If your chicken produces droppings that are very white and runny regularly (the urates are runny), this should be monitored closely as it can be an early indication of a kidney problem- more common in older birds. Make sure they have consistent access to water and quality feed. Increase their nutrition with Superfood Blend and Gut Health Blend. If you are concerned, seek Veterinary advice.

➡️ Runny Brown Poo

If you spot runny brown droppings, it is possible that your birds have E. coli or infectious bronchitis.  The more likely cause of this type of poop is the consumption of high liquid content feeds.

The most likely treatment for the condition causing watery brown poop is the use of strong antibiotics such as erythromycin or oxytetracycline from your vet.

I would monitor over a few days. If there are no other symptoms in your chickens such as loss of appetite, sullen appearance, drop in egg production and the poo becomes normal, it is more likely they have eaten something that doesn’t agree with them!

➡️ Black Chicken Poo

Black chicken poo can be caused by internal bleeding, but if your chickens haven’t experienced any trauma lately, it’s more likely that they ate charcoal, blackberries, mulberries, or other dark-coloured foods.

➡️ Orange Chicken Poo

Infrequently, you might see orange coloured poo. Red or orange chicken poo is one of the scariest types of chicken poo to see in your coop. It could be lead poisoning or coccidiosis, but usually, it’s harmless. It’s caused by the sloughing off of the intestinal lining, which sounds traumatic but is totally benign. It happens from time to time

When to be concerned

➡️ Blood in Poo

If blood is found in a chicken’s poo, this can be an indication that a chicken has coccidiosis. This is a serious intestinal infection that can spread to your entire flock. And can, unfortunately, result in death if not attended to properly. Coccidiosis is an inflammation of the intestinal lining due to a bacterial infection that can be treated if caught early.  I would start with a coccidiostat such as Amproulium or Cocciprol, but if you have an advanced case (accompanied by a hunched over or fluffed up hen) you may need to phone the vet.

I would also make sure your worming regime is under control. If you haven’t wormed in a while this can also occur.

Vent Gleet

Vent gleet (a.k.a. cloacitis) occurs when a chicken’s cloaca becomes inflamed. The most obvious symptom you’ll see is a yellowish-white discharge from the vent area which sticks to the feathers on the rear end, essentially – a messy bottom! Your chook may also have a bloated abdomen and gassiness, feathers that appear less shiny than usual, and if a female, a decrease in her usual egg-laying frequency. The vent area may also appear red and inflamed–and smelly.

In cases of late-stage or advanced vent gleet, your bird’s abdomen may be firm to the touch, their vent may be very swollen, and their droppings could even contain blood.

〰️ Possible Causes

  • PH imbalance. The cloaca is the last few inches of your chicken’s digestive and reproductive tract. If your chicken’s body is too acidic or alkaline, it can make them more susceptible to vent gleet.
  • Fungal infection, including yeast.
  • Bacterial infection. Gleet caused by bacterial infections may persist for weeks or months and be resistant to the usual treatments.
  • Stress or hormones. Like humans, external stress and hormonal cycles impact the entire body and affect the digestive system. In chickens, those factors can lead to vent gleet.
  • Protozoa or other parasites. Internal parasites can irritate the cloaca and cause vent gleet.

〰️ Treatments

  • Bathe the chicken to help cleanse and soothe the affected area.
  • Anti-fungal creams like those used for athlete’s foot applied topically twice daily to the vent area for 14 days.
  • Garlic cloves, 1 per 2 litres, added to their water supply can be helpful as well.
  • During treatment, avoid feeding your chickens food that has high water content and can cause watery stools -such as watermelon.
  • Quarantine the affected bird(s) from the rest of the flock during treatment. This will protect the bird from curious, pecking flock-mates and will protect the flock from any potentially contagious causes of the gleet.
  • Offer fresh water daily, using a supplement and/or probiotic during the entire treatment period.
  • Provide grit ad-lib.
  • Clean the vent area daily with warm water and mild soap. Keep your chook warm while you dry them off. You don’t want to add the stress of being cold to an already-stressed bird. Keep cleaning the vent for as many days as it takes for the vent gleet to subside. In some cases, it may take up to a week or more.
  • Trim vent feathers carefully, making sure you don’t trim too close to the skin, injuring your chicken. It is usually safest for two people to do this; one to hold her still and the other to do the trimming around the vent.

Vent gleet is not caused by bacteria but yeast, thus trying to cure it with antibiotics is not typically successful. In fact, they can make matters worse.  Antibiotics can kill off both the bad bacteria and the good bacteria (normal flora) promoting the occurrence of yeast.

If you happen to come across abnormal chicken poop, it is important to note whether it is an isolated incident or one that is recurring. You should also check for other symptoms in your chickens that may signify illness or disease, such as weight loss, loss of appetite, lethargy, sullen appearance, or a drop in egg production. If these are established, appropriate further treatment through an Avian Vet should be undertaken.

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