Chicken Diarrhea Questions

Chicken Diarrhea can have many causes. It could be from a sudden increase in dietary vegetable and fruit, or it could be a sign of an illness or parasites.

Chickens “urinate” and “defecate” at the same time. All birds do. Their digestive tract begins at the beak. Birds do not chew their food. They can use their beaks to tear or break off smaller pieces of larger foods, but if they can swallow it whole, they will.

In hot weather chickens will consume nearly twice the water they normally do. An average sized chicken may drink 2 – 4 cups of water per day.

When chickens eat dry foods like pellets or crumbles and dry seeds, they seem to know how much to drink to begin the digestive process of these foods that will mix, soak and begin to break down in their crop or craw.

Chicken diarrhea can be caused by bacteria, fungus or virus present in the digestive tract. Certain levels of bacteria in the digestive tract are normal, but too much can cause symptoms similar to food poisoning in humans.

Intestinal parasites upset the balance of digestion and may irritate intestinal linings. Bloody diarrhea, often rust colored, is a sign of intestinal irritation and bleeding.

Taking a sample of the droppings to your local poultry vet can result in knowing specifically what small organisms or parasites you may be dealing with. Guessing and medicating can lose precious time. The right diagnosis and treatment might actually save a chicken’s life, if done in time.

Chicken diarrhea can be spotted in two ways. Unformed droppings on the ground and dirty feathers below and around the vent, if you watch for it you will be able to tell which chicken or chickens have a problem.

A chicken acting unwell with diarrhea should be separated from the flock. Sometimes it’s best to treat the whole flock, depending on the problem. The dirty feathers should be cleaned or trimmed to prevent build up.

In warm weather the collection of droppings may invite flies to lay eggs, causing maggots which can be a further problem. Built up droppings around the vent can block feces or eggs from being passed, threatening a chicken’s life.


Probiotics may help with some diarrhea symptoms. Diarrhea can be caused by an imbalance or lack of good digestive bacteria, allowing food to pass through partially digested, sometimes completely undigested.

Chicken diarrhea should be treated quickly with the right medication or supplement. Your vet might recommend a human product and give you the right chicken dose.

Not all human medications or other animal medications are safe for chickens. Most feed stores carry probiotic products. This is a safe and natural treatment, that should have no bad side effects, when directions are followed.

Probiotics alone are meant to re-balance the digestive tract, but antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals or deworming may be needed as well. Injected antibiotics can be more efficient and less trouble since they don’t move through the digestive tract.

Oral or injected antibiotics can still kill off good bacteria needed for complete digestion. If you’ve treated chickens with antibiotics you should follow up with probiotics.

Products like electrolytes, even Gatorade, can help restore hydration and vitamin/mineral balance lost while a chicken has diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea leaves a chicken sick and weak.

Chicken diarrhea can cause dehydration and malnutrition, along with other symptoms of disease, so this is not something to be ignored. If intestinal parasites are present, robbing vital nutrients from the chicken’s digestive tract, it can lead to weakness and possibly death, if allowed to go on too long.

Diarrhea that lasts a day or two may just be the result of a sudden change in feeding and watering habits. Keeping chicken water supplies clean is important. Chickens eating dry feeds often rinse feed still in and on their beak into drinking water.

In warm temperatures bacteria may form in the water if containers are not thoroughly cleaned often, and cause digestive problems. Healthy chickens are hearty and can process low levels of bacteria, but feeding spoiled moldy foods should never be done and allowing chickens to scratch through compost with rotten food is dangerous. If you have a question you would like answered click here.

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