Chicken keepers are no stranger to the seemingly never-ending supply of chicken poop coming from their flocks.
Chickens poop and they poop a lot.
Sometimes it looks a bit off.
While it is reasonable for us to be concerned, abnormal poops are usually nothing to worry about.
So long as no other worrisome symptoms accompany the odd feces, there isn’t much sense in stressing out over it.
Different foods often cause deep pigments or changes in temperature and water intake.
However, there are some concerning chicken poop abnormalities like blood or worms in stool.
In these cases, you will need to treat your chickens.
Chicken poop varies widely in color and consistency. These are normal and have no cause for concern for the most part. If you see blood or worms in stool or consistently find abnormal poops, it’s time to determine underlying causes like infections or disease.
We have the 101 on everything you need to know about chicken poop.
We’ll address every smelly question you’ve had when encountering odd feces from your flock.
What Is Chicken Poop Called?
Most of us call the feces from our flock “chicken poop.” Other terms include chicken manure, chicken droppings, poultry manure, and chicken excrement. These terms refer to the digested material and urate, or concentrated urine, expelled from the chicken’s cloaca.
Whatever we decide to call it, you know it when you see it.
As a responsible chicken keeper, it’s a good idea to observe any changes occurring in your chickens’ excrement.
It is often the best and earliest indicator of any health issues for your chickens.
Early detection of diseases and infections gives you and your birds the best chance of getting the best treatment.
Stress is another major cause of abnormal poops like watery consistency and foamy feces.
Chickens experience stress for many reasons.
Most commonly, the reasons include:
- Lack Of Nesting Boxes
- Food Competition
- Lack Of Clean Water
Make sure your chickens have enough space to reduce stress.
It also helps to provide some entertainment in the form of food for your chickens.
Throwing a watermelon, cabbage, or head of broccoli into the coop helps entertain the chickens and reduces the overall stress of the flock.
Check out our complete guide for what chickens eat.
A Little About Your Chickens’ Digestive Systems
Understanding how a chicken’s digestive system works helps us understand variations in poop consistency and color.
It also helps us identify the different types of poop and abnormalities we may encounter.
Chickens digest food very differently than us.
They also expel urine very differently than us.
The white cap we see on normal chicken poop is urates and uric acid, and this is how chickens “pee.”
Further reading: Do chickens pee?
The first stop in the digestive system is the crop.
It contains enzymes for breaking down food.
The crop is the beginning of the digestion process for chickens.
The slightly broken-down food moves down to the gizzard from the crop.
The gizzard grinds up the food with the help of grit. Birds do not have teeth and rely on grit to fully digest their food.
Free-range chickens will eat pebbles, sand, and dirt to supply their gizzard with grit for digestion.
This is why feed stores sell grit to add to chicken feed.
If your chickens do not have access to pebbles and dirt, you’ll need to add grit to ensure your chickens properly digest their food.
After the food is ground up in the gizzard, it moves the small intestines.
Like us, the small intestines are responsible for absorbing nutrients from broken-down food.
Once the initial nutrients are absorbed through the small intestines, the food moves to the ceca.
The ceca organs work to absorb additional nutrients through fermentation.
The ceca organ also clears itself out every 7-8 poops.
This is why they are called cecal poops.
Cecal poops are significantly more runny and stinky than the average poop.
They are completely normal and a sign your chicken’s digestive system is functioning well.
The cloaca is where the chicken expels its waste.
It is also where the eggs come from.
It is the final step in the digestive system.
Chickens use the same vent for eggs, poop, and urine.
Chicken Poop Chart
Before we go into detail about all the different types of poop, let’s go over what types of poop are generally normal for your chickens.
The “Normal” column shows what type of feces is normal to occur regularly and frequently.
The “Okay Once In A While” column shows what types of poops are okay if they happen infrequently.
Occasional poop fitting the descriptions in this column is acceptable, but consistent feces like this will require further action.
The “Concerning” column shows the types of poop you do not want to see in your chickens.
They are cause for immediate concern.
If you see these types of excrement from your chickens, you’ll need to collect a fecal sample to be tested by a veterinarian.
|Normal||Okay Once In A While||Concerning|
|Brown Poop With White Cap||Colored Poop From Different Foods||Blood in Stool|
|Cecal Poop Every 7-8 Passes||Diarrhea From High-Protein||Worms In Stool|
|Large Piles From Broody Hens||Consistently Colored Or Clear Poop|
|White Or Clear Poops From Stress Or High Water Intake|
|Occasional Orange Strand From Shedding Intestinal Lining|
What Does Unhealthy Chicken Poop Look Like?
Unhealthy chicken poop has blood or worms in it. Unhealthy chicken poop is also consistently runny, discolored, and excessively stinky. Occasional discolored poop or runny consistency is fine, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, your chicken may be unhealthy.
The main signs of unhealthy chicken poop are blood and worms.
If there is something off about your chickens’ poop, observe their behavior and look out for other signs of something wrong.
If your chickens are otherwise acting completely normal, there is no reason to stress out about their strange poop.
Chances are it will even itself out, and they will be back to producing solid brown poops soon.
Here are some additional behavioral issues to look out for if you are concerned about your chicken’s health:
- Loss in appetite
- Lethargic demeanor or less activity than usual
- Increased thirst and excessive water intake
- A sudden decrease in egg production or your hens stop laying altogether
- Significant weight loss
If your chickens show any of these signs and produce abnormal poops, collect a fecal sample to bring to your vet.
Most vets run fecal float tests on feces from many different animals.
Consider asking your vet if they run fecal tests for chickens.
If not, you’ll need to find one who does.
Most of the assessments for chickens are done through fecal testing, so luckily, you won’t have to wrangle up your birds and bring them into the office.
Watery Chicken Poop
An increased intake of water most commonly causes watery chicken poop. It is also caused by an increased intake of high water content. These include watermelon, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, and celery. In rare cases, it is caused by more severe infections or diseases.
More often than not, the abnormal poops from your chickens are caused by a change in diet or water intake.
Watery poops are no different.
Most likely, they are caused by an increase in water through drinking or eating foods with lots of water in them.
Occasionally, watery chicken poop has a more serious cause.
Kidney damage from excess protein in their diet, vent gleet, and stress are more concerning causes of watery excrement.
If there is too much protein in your chicken’s feed, they may have trouble digestion and produce watery poop.
Vent gleet is a fungal infection of the cloaca.
It is highly contagious between chickens.
If your chickens are otherwise acting normal, there is no reason to worry.
Your chickens will likely balance themselves back out.
Black Chicken Poop
Many of us associate black feces with internal bleeding. More often than not, this is not the case when you encounter black chicken poop. Black chicken poop is usually the result of chickens ingesting highly pigmented foods like wood ash and blackberries.
Black chicken poop is a fairly regular occurrence in most chicken coops.
Chickens love to eat the ash from their dust bath, which often darkens their feces’ pigment.
Unless your chicken has recently experienced a physical injury or trauma, there is little reason to suspect internal bleeding.
If your chicken regularly has access to blackberries, wood ash, or purple-colored foods, it will occasionally expel black poop.
There is no reason to be alarmed.
Green Chicken Poop
Green chicken poop is very common for backyard chickens. It is usually the result of ingesting large amounts of greens, grasses, and weeds. Rarely, it is a sign of underlying health issues. Pasture-raised and free-range chickens regularly have green-colored poops from foraging plants.
If you are a chicken keeper with a backyard flock, chances are you encounter green chicken poop very often.
You probably don’t even think twice about it.
If you are new to keeping chickens, it may cause a bit of concern.
Luckily, there is usually no reason to worry.
Green chicken poop is caused by more serious underlying conditions in rare cases.
These include avian flu, Marek’s disease, and internal parasites.
If your chicken otherwise seems happy and healthy, there is no reason to worry about the green droppings.
Yellow Chicken Poop
Yellow chicken poop is most commonly caused by ingesting certain foods like strawberries, corn, and forsythia blossoms. Rarely does it indicates Coccidiosis, typhoid, or kidney malfunction. If your chicken seems otherwise happy and healthy, it is no cause for concern.
As with other discolored or pigmented poop, yellow chicken poop is no cause for concern.
It is usually caused by ingesting certain foods capable of changing the pigment of the excrement.
The most common culprits are strawberries, corn, and forsythia blossoms.
Yellow chicken poop falls on the spectrum for normal chicken poop and usually results from the diet.
If your chickens are showing other signs of illness or infection, make sure to address the issue with a professional.
Brown Chicken Poop
Brown chicken poop is the normal color for excrement. It is usually fairly solid with a white cap of urates. Most of the chicken droppings in your coop should be brown colored with a white cap. This is a good sign of a healthy digestive system in your flock.
More often than not, you’re going to find brown chicken poop in your coop.
This is a good sign of your chickens having a balanced diet and healthy digestive system.
Unless it is excessively runny or diarrheal, this is exactly the type of poop you want to see from your backyard chickens.
Blue Chicken Poop
Blue or teal chicken poop may trigger some alarms to go off in your head. Fortunately, it is usually caused by ingesting deeply pigmented purple foods like beets, purple cabbage, and beet tops. There is no evidence of infection or disease-causing blue chicken poop.
The first time you encounter blue chicken poop may leave you scratching your head in confusion.
It certainly is an odd color for excrement.
Fortunately, there is no reason to stress about it.
It is almost always caused by ingesting deeply pigmented foods.
The most common culprits are the ingestion of beets and beet tops and purple cabbage.
These foods are often used to create the dye, so it is no surprise they would cause such a change in color in chicken droppings.
Cecal Chicken Poop
Cecal chicken poop is characteristically runny and excessively stinky. It is a normal occurrence, usually happening every 7-8 poops. The cecal chicken poop comes from the ceca part of the digestive system and indicates your chicken is healthy.
Cecal chicken poop resembles diarrhea in many ways.
It is significantly more runny than the average chicken droppings.
It also has a significantly more pungent odor to it.
Another difference with cecal chicken poop is the lack of the white spot of urates.
The reason for all these differences is found in how the ceca functions.
The ceca are part of the chicken digestive system.
It pulls additional nutrients from ingested food by fermentation.
The ceca organ needs to clear out every so often to function properly.
When it clears out, your chicken excretes the cecal poop.
This is why it tends to be runnier and stinkier and doesn’t contain urine in the form of the white tap.
Usually, the ceca organ clears itself every 7-8 poops.
Foamy Chicken Poop
Foamy chicken poop every once in a while is not a huge deal. It usually results from your chicken ingesting something disagreeable with their digestive system.
Most of the time, your chicken’s excrement will return to normal once the disagreeable food is out of its system.
When our chickens eat a bit too much protein one day, they often excrete foamy stool.
For the most part, there is no reason for concern.
If your chicken regularly produces foamy chicken droppings, there is good reason to believe she may be having some digestive issues.
Foamy poop is often also an indicator of worms or parasites.
If any of your chickens consistently produce foamy excrement, it may be time to administer anti-parasitic medication to the whole flock.
It is important to treat all of your birds as parasites, and worms tend to spread quickly and aggressively throughout the whole flock.
Bloody Chicken Poop
If there are obvious signs of blood in your chickens’ poop, you’ll need to take action immediately. Chances are your chicken is showing some other signs of distress if there is bloody stool.
Hunched over chickens with fluffed out feathers may indicate Coccidiosis.
Coccidiosis is a serious parasitic infection affecting the intestines.
Quick treatment is key to saving your chicken.
Coccidiosis is also extremely contagious.
Treating infected birds quickly will help the overall health of the entire flock.
If you catch it early, you’ll be able to separate the infected chicken from the rest of the flock to keep the infection from spreading to all the birds.
Learn if chickens can drink alcohol and keep them safe.
Worms In Chicken Poop
Finding worms in the chicken poop is an obvious cause for concern. It indicates your birds have some sort of parasitic infection. Start deworming treatment right away for your entire flock.
Worms are very contagious.
Your other chickens may be infected and not showing signs yet.
It’s best to administer regular deworming treatments to stay ahead of the parasites.
Orange Strands In Chicken Poop
Orange strands in chicken poop are surprising when you first encounter them. Luckily, they are little cause for concern. The orange strands are pieces of the intestinal lining.
Chickens routinely shed the lining of their intestines, and it comes out in their droppings.
Some chicken keepers have difficulty differentiating the orange strands from blood in the stool.
If you are unsure, collect a sample and give it to your vet for a professional examination.
It may sound alarming to know the orange strands of bits of intestinal lining but rest assured it is normal.
It is an indicator of the health and regulation of your chicken’s digestive system.
Poop From Broody Hens
One of the quickest ways to tell you to have a broody hen in the mix is finding an abnormally large pile of feces.
Broody hens are temperamental birds.
They spend nearly all their time in the nesting box on top of their eggs.
Breaking the behavior is an unpleasant experience but catching it early helps.
Broody hens will spend nearly their entire day sitting on their eggs.
They only get up a few times each day to eat a little food, drink some water, and poop.
The feces build up because they are not regularly pooping as they would walking around the coop.
When they finally poop, it is usually a very large pile at a time.
If you find an abnormally large pile of poop in the chicken coop or run, you likely have a broody hen in your flock.
Luckily, broody hens will usually come out of their temperamental mood eventually, but it helps to give them a little push.
Here are some ways to break a broody hen’s behavior:
- Physically removing the broody hen and eggs from the coop helps break the behavior.
- Close off the coop, so the broody hen has to stay outside.
- Clean up the nesting boxes and change out the bedding. Sometimes this is enough to stop the hen from being broody.
How To Monitor My Chickens Poop
Monitoring your chickens’ poop is a great way to quickly address any health concerns.
It will also help you establish what is normal for your chickens.
Catching diseases and infections early gives you the best odds of having success with your treatments.
Monitoring the chicken droppings in your coop also helps you catch worms and parasites earlier on.
Install A Dropping Board
One way to catch worms early is to install dropping boards in your coop.
These are installed under where the chickens roost at night.
The board catches the droppings.
Dropping boards make it easy to monitor your chickens’ poops and catch any indicators of disease and infection earlier on.
It’s best to check the board daily to see if any changes have occurred.
It is also easy to scrape the droppings off, which will cut down how often you have to change the bedding.
Clean Out The Coop Regularly
Cleaning out your coop will let you see the range of differences occurring in your chickens’ droppings.
It is also very important to regularly change the bedding and deep clean the coop to prevent disease and infection.
Consider also walking the coop daily just to have a look around.
Making this a regular part of your daily chores allows you to catch any abnormalities early on and take the best care of your backyard chickens.