What’s the Scoop on Chicken Poop? The digestive system examined.

 Chicken poop: what's normal and what's not. An illustrated guide
Chicken poop; we don’t speak of it at the water cooler at work, but we do here in the chicken world because it can be one of the first signs of disease and illness. It’s not important to memorize every affliction that can cause a chicken’s droppings to be abnormal as it is to be able to recognize abnormal poop and know what to do about it.
 Chicken poop: what's normal and what's not. Chicken poop: what's normal and what's not.It helps to understand a little bit about the journey food takes through a chicken’s body to appreciate the end result. (ha!)

 It helps to understand a little bit about the journey food takes through a chicken's body to appreciate the end result. (ha!)
*A chicken’s digestive tract runs from the mouth to the cloaca..
 This is an actual hen's digestive tract.
*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.

The last stop on the GI train is the cloaca. Here, the contents that have passed from the intestines combine with urates. Chickens do not urinate in the typical way, they eliminate waste products from the urinary system in the form of urate, which appear as a white cap on the top of the feces.

Eggs and fecal matter are both passed through the hen’s vent. The end.
PROBIOTICS FOR DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Probiotics are live, nonpathogenic bacteria that contribute to the health and balance of the intestinal tract.  Probiotics keep bad bacteria in check by acidifying the gut, reducing pH by competing with bad bacteria & winning! (aka: competitive exclusion).

NORMAL CHICKEN DROPPINGS

 Normal chicken poop- grass clippings make it green.
Normal chicken poop- grass clippings make it green.
 Normal chicken droppings with visible scratch.
Normal chicken droppings with visible scratch.
 Normal chicken poop, cecal.
Normal chicken poop, cecal.
Normal chicken droppings- white cap is urates, the chicken equivalent of urine waste
Normal chicken fecal matter with urates on top (white cap).
 Cecal chicken poop, normal.
Cecal chicken poop, normal.
 Cecal chicken poop, normal. The darker the cecal poop, the higher the stink ratio as a general observation.
Cecal chicken poop, normal. The darker the cecal poop, the higher the stink ratio as a general observation.
 Normal chicken droppings, cecal poop.
Normal droppings.
Normal chicken poop is watery in high heat due to increased water intake.
Normal chicken poop in high heat due to increased water intake.
 Normal chicken poop picture
Normal.
 Normal chicken droppings
Normal.

Broody Poop- Normal
A broody hen sits on a nest hoping to hatch eggs; not wishing to foul her nest, she retains her droppings for hours instead of the usual, frequent deposits throughout the day. She briefly leaves the nest once or twice a day to eat, drink and relieve herself, leaving behind broody poop- the most horrendous-looking, foul-smelling, ginormous intestinal expulsion there is.
A broody hen sits on a nest hoping to hatch eggs; not wishing to foul her nest, she retains her droppings for hours instead of the usual, frequent deposits throughout the day. She briefly leaves the nest once or twice a day to eat, drink and relieve herself, leaving behind broody poop- the most horrendous-looking, foul-smelling, ginormous intestinal expulsion there is.

 A broody hen is a hen trying to hatch eggs 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.
Broody poop with a lovely green color, evidence of foraging on green grass.

Both of the following two photos show normal chicken poop from chickens that had been eating red/purple cabbage.
Normal chicken poop from chickens that had been eating red/purple cabbage.Normal chicken poop from chickens that had been eating red/purple cabbage.Droppings boards in a coop catch the nightly deposits and keep the bedding cleaner, longer. Scraping down the droppings boards daily provides an opportunity to observe anything abnormal. It is not unusual to find small amounts of red tissue in droppings; bits of intestinal lining are shed and slough off from time-to-time, but large amounts of blood are not normal and should be investigated.

 Droppings boards in a coop catch the nightly deposits and keep the bedding cleaner, longer. Scraping down the droppings boards daily provides an opportunity to observe anything abnormal.
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.
Suspicious looking chicken poop tested negative for parasites.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
The hen responsible for this specimen showed no symptoms of any problem either before or after she produced this. The blood and greenish component could be an indicator of worms; the watery nature combined with the blood could be an indication of coccidiocis. I monitored her carefully for a recurrence and was prepared to treat her for cocci but it was not necessary. This was the first and last poop of this kind by this hen. Had it happened a second time, I would have had a fecal float test performed (see below).
 The hen responsible for this specimen showed no symptoms of any problem either before or after she produced this. The blood and greenish component could be an indicator of worms; the watery nature combined with the blood could be an indication of coccidiocis. I monitored her carefully for a recurrence and was prepared to treat her for cocci but it was not necessary. This was the first and last poop of this kind by this hen.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.
 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 responsible for the droppings 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 hen responsible for the droppings 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 next two photos were from Esther, a 4 year old Easter Egger who had ovarian cancer that had spread throughout her internal organs. She had stopped eating and was passing watery, dark green colored droppings. She was euthanized by a vet shortly after this photo was taken. RIP Esther.
 The next two photos were from Esther, a 4 year old Easter Egger who had ovarian cancer that had spread throughout her internal organs. She had stopped eating and was passing watery, dark green colored droppings. She was euthanized by a vet shortly after this photo was taken. RIP Esther.The first indication of trouble in this hen was discovered on the droppings board underneath her preferred roosting spot. Abnormal poop from a hen dying of cancer in this instance.
 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. When his immune system was compromised by the infection, roundworms had a chance to flourish. The roundworms were treated.
The chicken responsible for this installment was suffering from a bacterial infection. 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.
 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.

Roundworms in chicken poop on droppings boards underneath roosts.

WHAT TO DO WHEN DROPPINGS APPEAR ABNORMAL
When abnormal droppings are found, it is important to look for any other symptoms that might suggest illness or parasites 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 a particular vet does not treat chickens, they may be willing to perform fecal testing and/or send the sample out to a lab for a chicken keeper.

If no vet is available, a good starting point to trouble-shoot a concern is  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.

Learn much more about worms in backyard chickens and de-worming options and dosages HERE.
De-worming chickens, controlling worms and treatment medications dosages.

Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®*Anatomical illustrations and photo reproduced for educational purposes, courtesy of Jacquie Jacob, Tony Pescatore and Austin Cantor, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Copyright 2011. Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, M. Scott Smith, Director, Land Grant Programs, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Lexington,and Kentucky State University, Frankfort. Copyright 2011 for materials developed by University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. This publication may be reproduced in portions or its entirety for educational and nonprofit purposes only. Permitted users shall give credit to the author(s) and include this copyright notice. Publications are also available on the World Wide Web at www.ca.uky.edu. Issued 02-2011

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Fran
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Fran

Any suggestions? This chicken is about 3 years old and has been totally normal. Two days ago she wouldn’t run to the treats like usual and she didn’t eat them (scratch). She’s been in a crate and seems to want to stay. I gave her two warm epson salt baths thinking she was egg bound. But she has been pooping a little. Won’t really eat much. The poop today looked like it had a little egg yolk in it with green balls. I don’t see where to attach a photo (?). We had an unusually hot and humid week that… Read more »

Jennifer
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Jennifer

I have a hen that has watery poop that looks exactly like the picture of the poop of the hen that was dying from cancer. She is very tired. She can walk on her own. She will drink water and is eating a little bit of food. She sleeps a lot and her comb is very dark red (almost purple). She keeps getting a build up of poo on her rear end because it’s so watery. It is the foulest smelling poo from a chicken that I’ve ever smelled. I have her away from the other hens right now because… Read more »

Jill marasovich
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Jill marasovich

My chicken has poop on her feathers. I gave her a bath but she just got poopy again. She is not moving or eating normally. This has lasted about a week. Is it time to take her to a vet?

TheChickenChick
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I have no idea what the debate is, but if it works for you, that's all that matters.

just my op.
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just my op.

I have some and have used it. Pour on. What am I missing in this debate? Those who post evidence that is doesn't work.

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