Constipated Chicken: Signs, Causes + Care

Just like any other animal, chickens can also get constipated. Before treating a constipated chicken, you must first determine if it is constipated or egg-bound since those two conditions have similar symptoms. 

When a hen is egg-bound or constipated, it mostly stays in the nesting box and avoids walking since they are in stress and pain. More so, if you touch the chicken’s stomach, it will be hard, and the general body temperatures will be unusually high. 

To help a constipated chicken, dissolve 5 ml Epsom salt in 2 pints of distilled water. Then Let the chickens drink it because the solution acts as a laxative which eases their bowel movements. Do this once after every three days until the constipation is over and the chickens are fine.

Chicken Constipation
Chicken Constipation

What causes constipation in chickens?

Chickens need to be observed such that action is taken if there is any change in their daily character. If you have noted that your chicken is not moving as usual or not eating well, it may be a sign of constipation. The following are some of the most common causes of constipation in chickens:

1. Dehydration

To digest food and pass stool, your chickens need to drink clean water adequately. Lack of water causes dehydration which may lead to constipation.

2. Excessive proteins

If chickens accumulate excess proteins in their bodies, it can constipate. Ensure that the chicken feeds on a balanced diet and avoid overfeeding them with fish, nuts, or other protein-rich food.

3. Illness or egg-bound

If your chicken is egg-bound, the egg will block the digestive tract and cause constipation. More so, illnesses such as colon infections may cause your chicken to constipate. Inviting a veterinarian to check your chicken regularly is a sure way to prevent your chickens from contracting diseases.

4. Lack of adequate fiber

Fiber is vital in promoting digestion, and lack of it can cause constipation. If your chickens lack access to fiber-rich foods such as sunflower meat, wheat bran, and whole grains, they can have difficulties digesting food and passing stool.

5. Low temperatures

When rearing chicks, you must ensure that the temperatures in the brooder are warm. Cold temperatures can sometimes cause contractions to a chicken’s digestive tract while trying to conserve heat and energy. When this happens, the chicks will be unable to pass stool properly.

Signs of a constipated chicken

Before treating your chicken for constipation, you need to check if it displays the signs and symptoms of constipation. However, some signs of constipation could indicate that your chicken suffers from other illnesses. Before employing any treatments, it is advisable to have an aviary vet check the chickens and advise accordingly.

1. Abnormal walking pattern

If your chicken is walking abnormally and its movements are stiffer, it might suffer from constipation—another sign is frequent squatting after walking for a few minutes.

2. Protruding vent

Chickens struggle to push their dropping out when constipated. This results in their vent protruding outwards. However, you must determine if the protruding vent results from egg-bound or constipation.

3. Loss of appetite

Due to the feeds being stuck in the chicken’s stomach, they lose their appetite. They stop drinking water and feeding, leading to an energy loss.

4. Firm or hard stomach

After a few days of food not getting past the chicken’s stomach, their stomach will be bloated. When you touch them, the stomach will feel firm, as if it has a large lump.

5. Hard, smelly droppings  

Chickens’ droppings are typically wet and do not have a strong foul smell when released. If you notice that your chicken excretes abnormally hard and smelly droppings, it might be constipated. The constipated chicken sometimes will not pass any droppings, clearly indicating constipation.

How to help a constipated chicken

After identifying that your chicken is constipated, you can contact a veterinarian if the condition is beyond your knowledge. However, you can also do the following:

1. Warm bath

Prepare lukewarm water, mix Epsom salt, then place and hold your chicken in there for about 15-20 minutes. The warm water will help your chicken relieve pressure while the salts relax it, making it poop. If it doesn’t, repeat up to three times per day until the chicken poops.

2. Electrolytes

Administer electrolytes to the chicken by mixing it with water or by syringe feeding if the chicken isn’t drinking water. Electrolytes help control the chicken’s fluid balance and hydration and promote muscle functions.

3. Pre and probiotics  

Giving chicken probiotics will aid digestion and prevent ‘bad’ bacteria from attaching to the chicken’s intestinal walls. Therefore, they assist in treating and preventing constipation in chickens.

4. Enema

Enema fluid treats constipation and stimulates the urge to empty the bowel. You can inject enema into your chicken’s vent and wait for the hen to excrete the droppings.

5. Blackstrap molasses

You can administer a few drops of molasses orally or mix it with water for them to drink. Blackstrap molasses contains vital minerals that encourage bowel movement and relieve your constipated chicken.

6. Vegetable and coconut oil

Administering a few drops of oil to your chicken orally will relieve constipation by lubricating the digestive tract and making the droppings wetter and easier to pass. Old chickens are usually prone to constipation and should be cared for.

The best way to manage constipation in an old chicken is by preventing it before it happens. Provide your chicken with a balanced diet and adequate water, and release them to peck on grass. Always have a vet examine your chickens regularly and take their advice seriously.

How to know if your chicken is egg-bound or constipated

So, how do you determine if the chicken is constipated or egg-bound? When your hen is egg-bound, you might mistake the condition with constipation due to almost similar symptoms. It is also imperative to note that if your hen is egg-bound, it can develop chronic constipation due to vent blockage.

Egg-bound is a condition where an egg is stuck inside the chicken’s oviduct and cannot lay the egg. On the other hand, constipation is when the chicken cannot pass stool or the droppings come out harder than usual. To distinguish between the two, you need to perform the following physical examinations:

Touch the chicken’s gizzard (stomach)

Hold your chicken and touch her stomach. If the stomach feels hotter than usual, and you can feel a hard lump around the oviduct, that’s a sign of an egg-bound chicken. A constipated chicken will also be hotter than average and have a hard stomach. However, the lump on a constipated chicken will be spread around the belly.

Performing a vent check

You will require a water-based lubricant and rubber/ surgical gloves to perform a vent check. To do this:

  • Wear the surgical gloves
  • Rub a little lubricant around your chicken’s vent
  • Insert your finger into the vent up to about 2 inches

After inserting your finger, the chicken is egg-bound if you feel an egg. However, if you can’t feel anything inside the vent, the hen is undoubtedly suffering from constipation, and you need to take immediate action. If the chicken is vomiting, it may e due to an impacted crop that needs to be emptied.