For those of us who frequent the world of backyard chicken farming, we know that a fair amount of time is spent discussing poop. Whether on forums or Facebook Live feeds, discussing your chicken’s poop is certainly acceptable.
We ask if the poop looks normal. Is it the right color and consistency? One of the questions I see a lot, especially from newcomers, is about the white part of the poop.
What is the white speck on top of chicken poop? Is it harmful?
Because chickens don’t pee, the white part on the top of the poop is called uric acid, the waste product normally found in urine. And it isn’t harmful at all!
This article will explain everything about chicken poop, including the journey through the digestive system. I will also explain what normal chicken poop is and what isn’t normal.
How is Chicken Poop Made?
Anything a chicken eats or drinks travels through the esophagus and into the crop. The food stays in the crop for a short amount of time before it makes its way down to the stomach.
Once in the stomach, digestive enzymes are added before the food makes its way to the gizzard, where it is ground up.
If your chickens are getting the appropriate amount of grit in their diet. All should go as planned in the gizzard. Grit breaks down her food before it makes its way to her intestines.
In the intestines, the ceca branch of the small intestine will absorb all the water in the matter, helping it to ferment. What is now poop moves to the cloaca.
It’s here that the magic happens as far as the white tops on the feces!
In the cloaca, the fecal content combines with urates, and it’s these that appear as the white caps on the poop. The poop then moves further down until it comes out of the bird’s vent.
What Should Chicken Poop Look Like?
Most of us assume that all poop is brown, and it usually is, but there are exceptions. If your chicken’s poop seems a little off-colored or has a different consistency, it’s perfectly normal.
Certain foods can add color to poop, too, so there is no need to panic. Healthy chicken poop can vary in color and consistency so let’s look at what is normal.
If your chicken is healthy, poop with a yellow hue can be caused by eating corn, strawberries, squash, and forsythia blossoms. So keep an eye on what your chicken has been eating. And if she has no other sickness symptoms, she is probably fine.
Green poop is more common than you think, especially in pasture-raised chickens. When they eat a diet consisting of grass, vegetables, and weeds, it’s almost guaranteed that the chicken will have green poop.
Even poop with a more teal consistency is usually nothing to worry about. This happens when your chicken has been eating red cabbage or beets.
Loose Brown Poop
Loose brown poop can be signs of a problem, which I will get to later. But in healthy chickens, it usually means they ate something with a lot of water like melon or cucumbers.
Again, black poop can be a problem in more serious situations, but as long as you know your chicken hasn’t gone through any recent trauma, black poop is usually another sign of something they ate. Dark-colored berries, perhaps.
Red or Orange Poop
Red and orange poop can be scary to see. As it is possible, it’s something to worry about. However, healthy chickens actually slough off the lining of their intestines which is entirely normal.
It’s a natural process where the intestinal lining will regenerate new cells, and you will see the old lining in the stool. Chickens that are simply shedding their linings will not look sick, and they will eat, drink and behave normally.
What is the Deal With Cecal Poop?
Cecal poop is half the fun of owning chickens, didn’t you known?
Cecal poop is a normal part of a chicken’s bowel movements. It is produced in their ceca pouch due to stress or possibly something they ate.
Cecal poop looks like yellowish diarrhea. You’ll know it’s cecal poop because it smells horrible.
The food in the ceca pouch sits there for a while, marinating if you will, before it is expelled. So by the time your hen actually poops, it’s pretty rough on the nose.
Most chickens will produce a cecal poop every 8 to 10 times they poop. And chickens poop a lot!
So don’t be alarmed if you see a diarrhea-looking poop that smells awful. It’s perfectly normal.
When to be Concerned About Poop
It’s more important to know what abnormal poop looks like so you can be proactive if something does come up. The following is a list of poop that should ring an alarm bell.
- Worms in the poop
- Blood in the poop
- Milky looking poop
- Watery poop
Worms in the Poop
It’s not just our dogs and cats we need to worry about when it comes to intestinal worms. Chickens, too, can get worm infestations. Roundworm and tapeworm are two of the most common, and you can usually see them in your chicken’s feces.
If you see worms, you need to treat them as soon as possible. You don’t want to treat just one chicken; treat the entire flock to be sure.
Reach out to your veterinarian about the best medication to treat intestinal worms in chickens.
Blood in the Poop
Aside from a healthy chicken having red or orange poop due to shedding its intestinal lining, blood in the poop is another problem.
Bloody feces can be a sign of coccidiosis, a very contagious disease in the bird’s intestine. Your hen appears lethargic or fluffed up and staying in one spot.
If you suspect coccidiosis, get your chicken to a veterinarian as soon as possible because it can be deadly if not treated.
Milky Looking Poop
Don’t get this confused with the white uric acid that you see attached to poop. But poop that is regularly white and has a milk-like consistency can signify intestinal parasites.
It can sometimes be a sign of Gumboro or Infectious Bursal Disease. This highly contagious virus is more often seen in young chicks, up to 6 weeks old. You will want to reach out to your veterinarian if you suspect this.
Continuously watery chicken poop can be a sign of kidney failure. However, this is much more prevalent in older chickens.
Watery, clear poop can also be a sign of bronchitis, which will require a trip to the vet as antibiotics need to be prescribed.
We’ve learned that the white peak on top of your chicken’s poop is simply uric acid, and it’s normal and a sign of good health. We’ve also learned that poop comes in all shapes and sizes! It can tell us quite a bit about our chickens.
But knowing what is normal and what to be aware of, you have a much better chance of clearing up any problems that may arise in your flock’s health.
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