Healthy bird poops or droppings have no noticeable odor when fresh. The smell of feces is often a sign of infection in the digestive tract. The most common is a bacterial or yeast infection.
Understanding how a chicken’s digestive system works can help us understand how chicken poop is formed.
Chicken’s Digestion Process
The chicken takes in food and water with its beak, saliva and digestive enzymes are added as food and water move from the mouth towards the esophagus, reaching the first stop (the crop), a temporary storage compartment where food could stay up to 12 hours.
After the food is softened, it drips into the proventriculus adding more digestive enzymes as the food moves into the gizzard, which is the muscular part of the stomach that uses sand or small stones that the chicken eats, to grind food into smaller, more digestible particles.
As the food passes through the gizzard, it follows its path to the small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed, then these residues pass through the cecum (the hen has two) where the bacteria do their work and decompose the food that has not been previously digested.
Waste and undigested food move into the cloaca, where they mix with urates (urine) and are expelled.
Types of Chicken Poop
These chicken poops can vary in appearance (colors and textures), some being brown, green, yellow, maroon, and even black. It all depends on the diet of the birds, the growing season of the bird, the season of the year, colder or hotter and the general state of health of the bird.
By observing the poop of your chickens, you can determine if something is wrong with the chickens. Black, maroon, or pasty brown cecal poops are produced daily in all chicken breeds, so there is no need to panic if you see or smell them.
There are seven types of chicken poop. They are:
- Normal Poop
- Green Poop
- Brown Poop
- Yellow Poop
- Red or Bloody Poop
- White Poop
- Black Poop
It is a common belief that the poop or feces of a healthy chicken should have an ash color, be firm and with a white cap. While this is true, the poop of a healthy chicken is not always like that as diet, season, climate and state of health can alter the look, texture or color of the chicken’s poop. However, the change shouldn’t last for a long time. If it does, then something is wrong with such chicken(s).
Possible causes: Loss of appetite, starvation, intestinal worms, Marek’s disease, Newcastle disease, Avian flu, salmonella. The most reasonable cause is when the chickens consume green vegetables, grasses or herbs.
Possible cause: Lead poisoning, Colibacillosis (E. coli) or Infectious Bronchitis
Most likely cause: Ingestion of foods with higher liquid content, so the consistency of the stool will look more like pudding and this can occur once with a frequency of 7-8 normal poops, which is quite normal.
Yellow and Foamy Poop
This could be an indication of intestinal worm, coccidiosis or salmonellosis (Fowl typhoid). Other causes could be the intake of some foods, strawberries or tomatoes, oats and corn
Red or Bloody Poop
Possible cause: Advanced coccidiosis, intestinal wall shedding or intestinal parasites.
Probable cause: swelling or inflammation of the intestinal wall. The orange particles are sometimes mistaken for blood, apple intake, or excess oatmeal.
Fresh blood in the poop or dark brown-black or reddish-black poop, indicating that the blood has been digested, could be a symptom of enteritis, septicemia, poisoning, or parasites.
White or Milky Poop
Possible cause: Food digestion problems, bacterial diseases (Bacillary white diarrhea), stress, coccidiosis, fungal or viral infections.
Probable cause: Bacillary White diarrhea (Pullorum), Infectious Bursal Disease (Gumboro) or Coccidiosis
It indicates bleeding in the upper parts of the digestive system, caused by blood that has fallen into the digestive tract, the cause may be the presence of worms or tapeworms or even very thin bacterial infections, also due to the ingestion of ash or charcoal.
Lumpy or undigested: The frequency will be the first indication that something is wrong. Incomplete digestion, foods that are too hard to digest (e.g. corn), or stunting syndrome.
Undigested seeds in feces: May be caused by roundworms or a Candida Albicans (fungus) Moniliosis infection
Bulky poop: Mycosis or bacterial infection. Poop is normal in broody hens.
Once you have a good idea of what is causing your birds to be sick through the poop, you need to start treatment. In some cases, this is as simple as adjusting their diet or feed. However, it is always good to consult your poultry vet before taking action.