*A chicken's digestive tract runs from the mouth to the cloaca..
*This is an actual hen's digestive tract.
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 because 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.
Normal chicken poop in high heat due to increased water intake.
Broody Poop- Normal
A 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 ginormous of all possible droppings.
Broody poop with a lovely green color, evidence of foraging on green grass.
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. Indiscriminate use of de-worming medications is inadvisable because worms can build up a resistance to them.
The float test confirmed that this specimen contained neither worms nor evidence of 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. Yellow, foamy or greasy-looking chicken poop can be a sign of internal parasites (worms, coccidiosis) an infection, (bacterial or viral) a diet too high in protein or kidney dysfunction.
The hen in this photo had no sign of illness prior to discovering these droppings on the droppings board, but she 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 compromised 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.
This hen had a roundworm infestation. After one dose of Wazine, she perked up and was back to business as usual. The entire flock was treated and all affected birds showed improvement within 24 hours of being medicated.
WHAT TO DO WHEN DROPPINGS APPEAR ABNORMAL
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 it 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. Ideally, a droppings sample will be brought to a veterinarian for a fecal float test. All vets routinely perform fecal float tests on other animals' droppings and even if your vet does not treat chickens, they may be willing to perform fecal testing for you and/or send the sample out to a lab for you.
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.