Chicken With Watery Poop


Have you ever seen any chicken with watery poop. If yes, then what all you have done after observing the problem, because it is really a very irritating issue. Well, if the answer is no, then this article is for you because this article will give you a complete idea about the watery poop troubles in chicken.


Diarrhoea is defined as the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day. There are many causes for diarrhoea such as infection, dietary imbalance or internal parasites: stress and environmental factors can also play a part.

Normal droppings and digestive process

The passage of food along the digestive tract is influenced by the age of the hen, environmental conditions such as temperature and the composition of the diet. A mash feed will typically pass from beak to hen house floor in around 8 hours for laying hens (12 hours if the hen is broody).

Normal droppings vary in colour and consistency, contain a mixture of faeces and urine and are generally a well-formed dark brown with a white urate cap (Figure 1).

A laying hen normally produces 100 – 150g of droppings, pooping 12 – 16 times over a 24 hour period.

hen dropping 1
Figure 1: A well formed hen dropping

Remember that a normal healthy hen will produce a cecal dropping once or twice daily, usually every 8 to 10 droppings. Cecal droppings look rather like chocolate, toffee or mustard sauce and tend to be sticky and smelly. They are completely normal and an indicator of a well-functioning gut.

Abnormal droppings

All chickens have a combination of good and bad bacteria in their intestines, if the balance is disturbed there can be an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

All chickens have a combination of good and bad bacteria in their intestines, if the balance is disturbed there can be an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

Diarrhoea in hot weather. Hens tend to drink a lot more in hot weather to help them cool down and as a result may develop diarrhoea. Feeding a diet high in water-based food can have a similar effect (cucumber, watermelon etc.).

Diarrhoea following antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off good bacteria as well as bad. Vets normally advise feeding a probiotic following antibiotic treatment to help to restore the good gut bacteria.

Diarrhoea caused by worms. Diarrhoea can be a sign of worms, and a routine flock care plan should always include regular worming. Consult your vet or Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) for advice.

White watery diarrhoea. This can indicate a problem with the kidneys (Figure 2).

Blood or mucous with diarrhoea. This can be a sign of coccidiosis if accompanied by severe diarrhoea. Consult your vet for further advice.

Blood or tissue with an otherwise firm dropping. Gut lining can sometimes be seen in droppings and is not a cause for concern (Figure 3).

Green diarrhoea. Chickens that eat large amounts of leafy greens and grass will tend to produce green droppings. A bright emerald green diarrhoea can be a sign of Marek’s disease, Avian influenza or Newcastle disease although this is less likely. You should consult your vet for further advice.

Diarrhea in Adult Chickens

Flock keepers usually recognize diarrhea in a flock of chickens when they see hens with dirty vents or stained eggs. Chickens with diarrhea usually have matted feathers around the vent, which is a helpful indicator to you about which bird has the problem.A normal hen isn’t perfectly clean back there, but in a hen with a problem, the feathers and the vent area are heavily pasted with dried yellowish poop, and the vent area may be red and sore-looking.

A hen's vent when it has diarrhea.

Credit: Photograph courtesy of Plum Island Animal Disease CenterWhat does the color or consistency of droppings tell you about a chicken’s health? Nothing specific. You can see a huge range of colors and consistencies in normal and abnormal chicken droppings.

Many things can cause adult birds to have diarrhea, and some of the most famous offenders are listed here. Flock keepers often think of intestinal worms as prime suspects, and intestinal parasites do cause a lot of trouble in young birds, but they’re overrated as causes of diarrhea in adult chickens.

Type of DiseaseCommon CausesNot-So-Common CausesRare Causes
Accidents of flock managementHeat stress Vent prolapseExcess salt in the diet Hardware disease Mold toxins in feed Raw soybean mealToxic plants
Bacteria or virusesColibacillosis Lymphoid leukosis Marek’s diseaseAvian intestinal spirochetosis Avian tuberculosis Fowl cholera Infectious coryzaAvian influenza Newcastle disease
ParasitesCoccidiosisHeavy infections with threadwormsBlackhead

Diagnose diarrhea in adult chickens

Even poultry veterinarians and diagnostic laboratories are stumped about the cause of chicken diarrhea. Fecal exams will probably show a few intestinal worm eggs and coccidia, but that’s normal for adult free-range chickens.

X-rays may show problems in the abdomen, such as hardware disease or egg peritonitis, diseases which have miserably low chances for recovery. The hard truth is that the most useful test for flock diarrhea is a postmortem exam of affected birds by a veterinary pathologist.

For intestinal problems, a very fresh dead bird can provide the most useful information. In fact, it may be best to have sick birds euthanized at the laboratory and examined immediately. Call the laboratory ahead of time to make arrangements.

Give supportive care for an adult chicken with diarrhea

The following are do-it-yourself tips for dealing with adult chicken diarrhea while you’re waiting for a diagnosis (or if you’re unable to get one). You’ll know within a week if your efforts are paying off. If the bird continues to decline despite your care, something sinister is going on; consider euthanasia and a postmortem.

  • If a small proportion of the flock is affected, isolate the sick birds in a hospital pen and provide good nursing care. Birds with dirty vents may need to be housed individually in separate cages, because other birds like to peck at the raw area. If most of the flock is affected, leave the flock where it is and treat the whole flock.
  • Check the flock’s environment. Is it clean and comfortable? Take steps to cool heat-stressed birds or dry out a wet pen. Clean waterers and provide fresh, clean water. Examine the diet. Did you feed something new? Check for moldy or spoiled feed. If you have any suspicions about the feed, change it, preferably to a fresh batch of a well-known brand of commercial layer feed.
  • Be on the lookout for vent prolapse. If you see pink tissue protruding from the vent, read on for information about blowouts, which can be the cause or the result of diarrhea/dirty vents.
  • Add two tablespoons of vinegar to each gallon of drinking water. Vinegar is a “Why not?” remedy. Some evidence suggests that organic acids like vinegar may improve gut health in poultry, and vinegar won’t hurt if you give it at the recommended dose. Any kind of vinegar will do, although you probably won’t want to use your $50 bottle of artisan balsamic. Chickens don’t seem to notice it at this recommended dose.
  • Use a probiotic medication or offer yogurt. Most feed stores sell probiotics that you can add to feed or water. The organisms in yogurt and probiotics compete with the bad bugs, and sometimes the good bugs win.

Tetracycline medications (such as oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline) are commonly used in drinking water or feed to successfully treat diarrhea in livestock, including chickens. As a result of that common use, tetracycline medications just as frequently fail to cure diarrhea because bacteria are now often resistant to the drug.

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