Chicken Health, Chickens

Chicken Health – Droppings

Keeping chickens in the garden is rewarding and can be educational too if you have young children helping with their day-to-day needs. But, as with all animals, from time to time chickens can become ill. Apart from the classic signs that a chicken is unwell – fluffed up feathers, hunched posture, eyes closed etc you may be surprised to hear that chicken droppings can reveal quite a bit about their current health. So, the next time you check on your flock take time to inspect their droppings.

I realise this may sound unpleasant but believe me you could identify a potential health problem just by recognising what an abnormal chicken dropping looks like. You should also get to know what healthy droppings look like too, they come in an array of colours and textures. Try inspecting droppings as part of your daily routine, this way you will get to know your flock (and their poo) a little better!

Examples of healthy droppings:

Examples of problem droppings:

 I will add photos of interest to this post as they occur. All the above photos were taken by me and produced by my chickens. Just as a pointer, droppings to be concerned about are as follows:

Vivid yellow, frothy, green, runny, mainly white or clear runny, bright red blood (not to be confused with normal shedding of gut lining) and regular droppings containing visible undigested grain/food.

If I find a dodgy dropping I keep a good eye on the hens for signs of ill-health, if I do suspect there may be a problem or if I just want to put my mind at ease I contact Retfords Poultry Ltd. They provide a faecal testing service to check for presence of parasites and bacteria. Using this service literally saved one of my hens from certain death. It’s so easy to use, just pop the suspect dropping into a suitable container (screw top lid may be advisable!) and post it off with a covering note. Most good avian vets can also provide this service.

Chickens tend to show the same symptoms/characteristics for many different illnesses, even normal ‘egg issues’ such as soft-shelled eggs can make them appear unwell and give you cause for concern. Being able to identify an abnormal chicken dropping is handy knowledge to have.

Happy poopy peeking :)

11 thoughts on “Chicken Health – Droppings”

  1. BRILLIANT post! Poo is one of the best ways to diagnose health issues, even in humans, and any chicken keeper should be on the lookout for anything out the ordinary. Glad you highlighted the issue of inspecting poo! :D

  2. The first one is normal, bit of gut lining in there plus a small amount of undigested greens because they filled up a bit too much on the ‘goodies’ that day! The occasional poop containing undigested contents shouldn’t give cause for concern. Gut lining can be alarming to see, totally normal but a case of knowing what is right and what isn’t.

    I have seen a dropping containing blood, which is completely different from gut lining. I had that particular sample tested and the result was coccidious which can be fatal. The hen was successfully treated.

  3. Goodness, I’d be worried if I saw anything like the first one, but perhaps it’s something they ate. On the other hand I have seen the occasional droppings containing undigested grain. I’m glad it’s only if it is like that regularly I might have cause for concern. On the whole we just scoop them up and dispose of them without looking too closely.

  4. Hi

    Thanks for the fabulous posts. Just noticed one of our chickens is pooing something similar in colour and consistency to your problem dropping photo above. We have three chickens, who are all still quite young and have only just started laying. We don’t know which one this poo is coming from. Do you have any ideas or advice for newbie chicken keepers around this and appropriate health checks. Many thanks

  5. Our dear dear little hen Daisy died last night , she was only 3 years old. We tried every thing we could to help her – Nutri Drops and anti biotics from the vet.Sadly all in vain,why is so little help or understanding of chicken illness available ? She was much loved and we miss her already.

  6. Hi Graham, I would send a sample off for testing just to rule anything out. If you send it to Retfords you can be sent medication if it’s needed. Hope all is well with your chicken.

    Hi Angela, I’m so sorry to read you lost Daisy x

  7. Hi! I came across your Blog trying to find out some info on chickens. We have 4 who are about 9 months old, and about 4 days ago or so, I noticed one of ours had green poop stuck to her butt, and as I started watching her more, I noticed she was acting weird. Staying away from the other chickens, not eating as much and just kind of standing in the same spot. After reading up on some stuff, it sounded to me like she was egg bound. So I did what I found out online, that I should soak her on and off for a day or so. I ended up cutting the feathers off, because they could not be cleaned. She still is acting weird, we haven’t had an egg in about a week, and I’m not sure what to do with her now. Please help!!
    Chicken Dummy

  8. Lacey, green poop can be a sign that the chicken has not been eating properly for a while, it could also be a sign of a heavy intestinal worm burden. Do you notice anything else with her droppings? Blood or small worms moving? Pick her up and check to see if she is losing weight, she’ll feel lighter than the others and her keel bone will be sharper to the touch (situated at the front of the chicken, just below the crop). If a hen isn’t eating she won’t lay so you need to get to the root cause of why she isn’t eating – which could be a whole list of things. I would recommend getting her checked over by a vet with avian knowledge. Good luck!

  9. We lost one of our new chicks the day after we got it 3 weeks ago, and now one of the others is not growing as fast as the others. I had suspected coccidiosis, but the slow one has white poop, not bloody. They are in an old wire-bottom rabbit cage in our laundry room, set on cardboard lined with plastic, with about 1/2″ of shavings. The shavings get replaced about every 3 or 4 days. I have turned off their heat lamp for several hours at a time the last couple of days, because it has been unusually warm for March. On the warmest days, they get carried outside, cage and all, to enjoy the weather. Do I just consider this poor chick the runt, or is there something that might be causing her poor growth? She really hasn’t been acting sick, but tries to avoid the others, and spends a lot of time off by herself.

  10. Hi Barbara, sorry to hear you lost a chick. The problem with chickens and other prey animals is they hide illness, appearing ‘normal’ to avoid being picked on. If the chick you’re concerned about isn’t thriving and avoiding the others, I would send a sample of poop off for testing asap. This will really give you a good idea of what is going on. You can do this yourself or via your vet. Do you live in the UK? If so, try Retfords Poultry. Good luck, I hope all turns out well.

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