|*A chicken's digestive tract runs from the mouth to the cloaca..|
Food and water travels from the mouth, down the esophagus and into the crop where it is stored before moving down into the stomach (proventriculus). Digestive enzymes are added and food then moves into the gizzard (ventriculus) which grinds up the food. Grit or small stones eaten by chickens aid in breaking down food in the gizzard before passing into the intestines.
The ceca branch off the small intestine and absorb water contained in the fecal matter as it passes through. They serve several purposes, one of which is to ferment matter not previously broken down. The ceca empty out their oh-so-foul-smelling contents several times a day. Cecal poop has a different texture and color from other droppings, it also has an extra heavy dose of STINK, however it is a very good indication that the digestive tract is working properly. Cecal poop color can range from yellow to black.
Eggs and fecal matter are both passed through the hen's vent, but the egg is not exposed to the droppings as the vagina covers and protects the egg from contamination.
|Normal with grass clippings makes it green.|
|Normal. Scratch visible.|
|Normal, cecal poop.|
|Normal fecal matter with urates on top (white cap)|
|The darker the cecal poop, the higher the stink ratio.|
|On the loose side of normal. I kept an eye on this chicken, her subsequent dropping were firm.|
Broody Poop- NormalA broody hen is a hen who sits in her nest all day and all night in hopes of hatching chicks. She briefly leaves the nest once or twice a day to eat, drink and relieve herself. The hen, not wishing to foul her nest, retains her droppings for hours instead of the usual, frequent deposits throughout the day. The result of her bi-daily rest stop is broody poop, which is the most horrendous looking, foul smelling and gingantic of all possible droppings.
This is the droppings board in my coop; it catches the night's deposits and keeps the bedding cleaner, longer. I scrape it off into a bucket it first thing every morning, watching for anything abnormal. It is not unusual to find small amounts of red tissue in droppings; bits of intestinal lining are shed and slough off, being eliminated in the droppings, but large amounts of blood are not normal.
|Much more information about droppings boards, HERE.|
9/14/12. Moments before we brought our dog to the vet's office this morning, I found this suspicious deposit on the droppings board. My first thought was that it could be worms given the shape and color, so I grabbed a plastic bag and brought it to the vet for a fecal floatation test. Most vets, even those that do not ordinarily treat chickens, will perform a fecal float test for patients when asked. Many will even do it free of charge as my vet did.
When one chicken is found to have worms, the entire flock must be treated. Worming is serious business and ought not be taken lightly as it is taxing on a chicken's body and worms can build up a resistance to worming medications when over-used.
The float test confirmed that this specimen contained neither worms nor coccidiosis. The pink, stringy stuff was simply an unusually long piece of intestinal lining that had been shed. Gross, yes, but not a problem.ABNORMAL DROPPINGS
While this foamy, yellow specimen is abnormal (diarrhea) the chicken had no further such deposits and was otherwise well. Her diet was balanced and she was drinking normally.
The hen in this photo had no sign of illness prior to discovering these droppings on the droppings board. This hen had coccidiosis, a serious intestinal infection, which required treatment of the entire flock.
|The first indication of trouble in this hen was discovered on the droppings board underneath her preferred roosting spot.|
The chicken responsible for this installment was suffering from a bacterial infection, presumably from an infected bite. When his immune system was attacked by the infection, roundworms had a chance to flourish. The roundworms were treated with Ivermectin.
These droppings were from Stella, my Silver Spangled hen who was approximately 5 years old at the time. She had a severe case of egg yolk peritonitis and was euthanized by a vet upon discovery. Egg yolk peritonitis is very common in aging layers.
|Same hen as photo above. Roundworms.|
When abnormal droppings are found, it is important to know whether it is an isolated occurrence and if there are additional symptoms such as: loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, increased thirst or a drop in egg production. The chicken's diet should also be assessed to see whether its diet is balanced. Too much protein or drinking large amounts of water can cause watery-looking droppings. If additional symptoms are noted, the cause needs to be determined. If no vet is available, a good starting point would be to consult The Chicken Health Handbook, by Gail Damerow. I highly recommend the addition of this book to every chicken-keeper's library. Pages 152-153 contain a chart of diseases that affect droppings by characteristic and age of bird.