It can be alarming if your chickens’ poop out a blob that looks a tad bit unfamiliar, or different than what you are used to seeing.
But, the truth is, chickens’ poop will differ depending on what they eat, where the feces is coming from, and yes often it depends on their health.
Let’s break down the ins and outs (yes, that out) of a chicken’s feces by starting with the digestive system of your chickens.
Chickens’ Poop and Understanding Their Digestive System
Chickens have an interesting, and somewhat confusing, digestive system. First off, they don’t have teeth, so in order to “chew” their food, they have to eat stones.
If that’s not strange enough, poo, pee, and eggs all exit through the same single “hole.”
But before we get too carried away with the anomaly that is the chicken’s digestive system, let’s back up and follow the path of a food item from beginning to, ahem, end.
- Your chooks peck at their food and it travels to the crop, a storage-like stop on the digestive tract, where enzymes help begin the digestive process by breaking down the food.
- The food then moves to the gizzard, and this is where that grit comes in handy. This organ grinds up the food along with the stones the chickens have eaten.
- Once the gizzard has done its job, the food moves through the small intestines where nutrition is absorbed.
- Unlike humans, and many other critters, chickens have an extra organ that branches off the small intestines, and this is called the ceca. The purpose of the ceca is to catch additional nutrition by fermenting the food further. Food hangs out in the ceca for a while and is expelled a few times a day (which is why your chicken’s poo looks different throughout the day.) More on that soon.
- Lastly, the cloaca takes the “leftovers” and combines them with urates producing the white part of the droppings. From there, the poop leaves the chicken through the vent.
So, now that we understand how the chicken’s digestive system operates, let’s take a closer look at the actual poo, and what variations of it might mean for the health of your chicken.
The following variations are the most common dollops of poo you will see around the yard, some normal, some possibly indicating health concerns:
Normal Chickens’ Poop Variations
These three types of chicken poop usually indicate that your chicken’s digestive tract is healthy and firing on all cylinders:
Regular Chicken Poop
Regular chicken poop has many different faces and depending on the temperature outdoors, and what this chicken has eaten, feces’ appearance can vary greatly.
With that being said, most healthy chicken poop is brownish, greenish, and has the cap of urates we mentioned earlier.
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.
Cecal Chickens’ Poop
Remember how I mentioned that the ceca expel its contents a few times a day? Well, if you notice “pudding-like” poo without the white urate cap, you are most likely looking at cecal poop.
Don’t worry if this type of dropping is super-duper smelly—it’s entirely normal for it to have an extra punch of stank.
Broody Hen Poop
Once you identify your first bit of broody poop, you will always be able to tell if your hen is broody.
Despite what we see outwardly, hens don’t want to soil their nest when they are laying on eggs. To prevent a mess, your hen will hold it in for much longer than she would if she were bombing around the coop.
In fact, your broody hen only leaves her nest a few times a day to poo, eat, and drink. So, imagine what holding in all that feces does…yeah, it creates quite a build-up.
And when your hen finally does relieve herself, she unloads a lot of droppings at once, and usually, it smells pretty horrible.
Abnormal Chickens’ Poop Variations
Keep in mind that healthy poop can be runny, and have different colorations depending on your chicken’s diet, but the following probably indicate an underlying problem:
Wormy Chickens’ Poop
If you see worms in your chickens’ dropping, or even in their eggs or shells, it’s pretty clear that you have a parasitic infection.
If you suspect that your chicken has worms, you can try deworming them with a variety of different methods, but to successfully remove all worms from your chicken’s digestive system, you should try your best to identify the type of worm.
If you aren’t sure what kind of worms your chickens have, take the droppings to your vet, and they should be able to quickly identify which brand of parasite you are dealing with and how to treat it.
Remember, if one chicken has worms, they probably all have them and should be treated accordingly.
Foamy Chickens’ Poop
Another indication of a problem with your chicken’s digestive system might be a foamy stool. Now, every once in a while, we all have some digestive upset.
So, if you see frothy poo from your favorite hen, don’t panic; she may have eaten a lot of protein that day, and her body is processing the extra intake differently.
If, however, she continues to have foamy, yellow, poop, she could have worms or a bacterial infection in her digestive tract.
Keep a close eye on her to make sure this passes and isn’t more than just a protein-rich meal.
Blood in Your Chicken’s Poop
Chicken droppings with blood in them may indicate that your hen has coccidiosis, which is an inflammation of the intestinal lining due to a bacterial infection.
Coccidiosis can be treated if caught early.
Bloody chicken poop can also indicate the presence of worms within the digestive system. So, even f you cannot see the worms, they may be hanging out inside of your hen.
Watery Chicken Droppings
Runny chicken poop can occur in scorching temperatures. It can appear thin and watery.
However, if your chicken is explosively defecating, and it isn’t that hot out, she may have eaten something she shouldn’t have, or she could have worms or an infection.
In any of these situations, you should separate your hen from the rest of the flock to prevent the spread of infections she might be carrying and to keep an eye on her health.
Consult a vet if you are unsure of what has caused the issue, and treat your entire flock as instructed.
Now that we all know each other a bit more than we may have wanted to, we can assess the health of our chickens by observing their feces.
And, we know that a little variation in your chicken’s poop isn’t always a cause for concern.
Want To Share This…
22 thoughts on “Understanding Your Chickens’ Poop”
I gather eggs every day, usually twice. Today I cracked an egg into my cake & it was rotten! Can they lay a rotten egg? I never seen this in all my years. Ok only 15 yrs. Raising chickens. I use my weird or cracked eggs but they are this week’s eggs, refrigerated.
This could mean an infection in the oviduct. I would talk to a professional or vet about this. And stay away from eating them for now until there’s a solution. When you say rotten are you meaning the smell or look? Send a picture to us and we will review.
There is such a thing as lash eggs.
Would it be possible to enlarge on the subject of lash eggs please?
I read extensively (from what I could find online) after my hen started laying them around 6 months ago, and ever since has laid weird sort of “lash egg “concoctions” … I do get an occasional egg, but never eat it. Its usually a funny shape and when you break it, it has a lot of liquid inside as well as a few blood spots in the yolk, in comparison to a normal egg. To be fair, I don’t think her eggs have ever been completely normal, although I had a job identifying which were hers for a long time.
I tried several times to speak to a vet, but they don’t seem to have a clue… didn’t even bother getting back to me, the hen is actually well other than this, she’s coming up to 4 years old now.
Advice would be much appreciated. Thank you
Good info, thanks.
Great article. we are new for raising chickens. You mentioned eating stones. What kind of stones are you referring to? We have rock and grass. Should I put down some sand for them.
There is some info about grit in your chicken’s food here.
You can buy it at the store specifically advertised for them.
Thanks interesting ?
Video of Round Worms is great for truly knowing what they look like. I had a concern that my hen had this but turns out it was shavings in her pooh.
You didn’t mention the black tarry poo that smells putrid.whats up with that? Thanks
i have 4 chickens and have black poo too i have been looking for an answer to have you any news on that
Cecal poop is produced from the caecum of the chicken and are expelled every 8-10 droppings. It is generally thicker and stickier than normal, and can range from yellow to black in colour and has a particularly obscene smell. As unpleasant as it might be, cecal poop is a good indication that the digestive tract is working properly.
I’m sorry..I failed to mention the article was bomb. Very informative thank you so much
one of my hens has like a diarrohea while the other 2 have a funny breathing. i find the article very informative as im a first time chicken raiser. i got my ladies when they were 6 months old and now they are about 7 months.
Thank you for any help!
Keep new poultry separated for at least 30 days before they are introduced to your other poultry. This will help prevent the new poultry from passing disease to your flock. Remember that poultry can appear healthy and clean, but still spread harmful germs that make people sick.
Worms found in a hen’s poop means that she has 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.
Hello! I really want chickens, and I am trying to convince my parents. I showed them your article on five reasons to get chickens and have made lists with everything we would need. However, we have a “summer house”, and would like to bring the chickens with us. Someone there would be willing to rent us their coop, but would the chickens be OK with the transition to the new coop, especially if we had to bring them back after a few months?
Chickens are pretty adaptable. It may take them a day or two to trust their new surroundings but once they are familiar with the space they can go back and forth quite easily.
Chicken Butt Microsanctuary
Bird size will determine how often they poop. Small birds may poop every 10 minutes or so, and large birds, like chickens, would do it less frequently. The advantage of not having a well-controlled sphincter for a bird means that you don’t have to decide to poop while in flight, which keeps you light — a big advantage for flight efficiency.
You may find a dropping with small amounts of red tissue. It looks alarming but is perfectly normal and is just your hen shedding intestinal lining that constantly regenerates. Large amounts of blood are not normal and should be investigated further.
First timer with chickens – they are about 3 months old now, one starting laying a week ago and laid 3 beautiful eggs on each of three days, then a shell-less one, then…… today I found two tremendous poos with a shell-less eggs embedded into each of them (outside of the coop, just on the ground in the usual poo-zone). She still seems perfectly lively and happy but I am bemused by egg/poo mixture. Not my favourite flavour omelette. Any advice anyone? Many, many thanks
is she having oysters shell
one hen laid a lash egg, I don’t know which one, should I throw away all the eggs I’ve collected