Chicken Diarrhea: Causes + What they Look Like

Diarrhea is a common sight in chicken coops. If you see it once in a while and your chickens don’t exhibit any other symptoms, you should rest assured that they’ll be okay. However, if you notice unusual loose stools like the ones described below, contact your vet as soon as possible.

Loose droppings or chicken diarrhea is common, especially in summer. Watery droppings are normal if they take lots of water in hot weather. However, continuous diarrhea signifies a severe infection or disease that needs quick attention.

Color of chicken diarrheaCause and meaning
Smelly loose brownCecal droppings
Black chicken diarrheaBleeding Internally
Red-brown chicken droppingsCecal cell shedding
Greasy loose yellow droppingsInternal worms and parasites
Foamy, yellow diarrheaViral or bacterial
White loose droppingsUrates
Chicken diarrhea with mucus or bloodCoccidiosis
Foamy diarrhea with different colorsWorms
Green  chicken diarrheaNecrotic enteritis and Coccidiosis
Greenish loose chicken droppingsNewcastle disease and gut infection
Whitish diarrhea that is sticky and pastyGumboro infection
Watery diarrhea in hot weatherToo much water intake while cooling down
Brown watery loose droppingsBacterial infections + Over drinking water
Creamy or white chicken diarrheaFluids from the Cloaca vent called Vent gleet
Types of chicken diarrhea + what causes them

What does chicken diarrhea look like?

It is common for chickens to change the color of their droppings depending on what they feed. For example, if your birds are always in the field, they will eat lots of vegetation, and it is okay to see them leave green drooping behind. However, green runny chicken poop that does not go away should be considered before the chicken’s condition is affected.

Here are pictures of what chicken diarrhea looks like;

Pictures of Chicken Diarrhea + What they Look Like
Pictures of Chicken Diarrhea + What they Look Like

Sometimes, the stool’s color, texture, or general appearance can tell you what your chicken suffers from. So, let’s dive straight into the most common types of runny stool you might see in your chicken coop and what they mean.

1. White chicken diarrhea

If your chicken has loose droppings with a characteristic white color, it’s probably suffering from pullorosis. The Salmonella bacterium family causes the disease. It manifests itself quickly and displays symptoms like:

  1. The eyes are always half-closed or covered with film.
  2. The beak is almost always open.
  3. The head is constantly tilted down.
  4. Breathing difficulties.
  5. The chickens make a disturbing squeak.
  6. The poop is strictly white with a putrid smell.

To cure chicks of white nasal congestion, you should review their diet. There are probably too few sour-milk products, or they’re entirely absent. It is necessary to start feeding young chicks with low-fat homemade kefir or yogurt. It is also essential to take some organizational measures:

  1. Establish good ventilation.
  2. Disinfect the chicken coop regularly.
  3. Try to keep a consistent temperature in the chicken coop.
  4. Check if the chickens are too congested. If so, create more room for them.

Chicks that do not show symptoms of the disease continue to spread it to other chickens in the coop. As a result, it is important to have a clinical examination on the chickens to help you isolate the infected ones.

There could also be several other reasons that may cause white chicken poop; the causes should be well-identified before any action is taken.

2. Brownish or yellowish diarrhea in chicken

If your chickens have brownish, black or dark yellow loose droppings, they probably suffer from coccidiosis. This infection spreads rapidly through the coop, and the sick chicken itself, its bowel movements, and even water or food can be a source of infection.

Common signs include:

  1. Yellowish drippings.
  2. Ruffled feathers.
  3. Diminishing appetite.
  4. Depression.
  5. General weakness.
  6. Yellowish or grey eyes.

Before proceeding with coccidiosis treatment, it is essential to prove it clinically. You must consult an avian vet if the chickens are also throwing up with the above signs. After that, you can start treatment with antibiotics. Most veterinarians recommend:

  1. Coccidiovitis.
  2. Regicoccin.
  3. Suldimethoxin.

On top of treatment, you must also pour hot water on the drinkers or food containers and clean and disinfect the environment.

3. Chicken diarrhea with blood spots

This type of poop is the most dangerous for chickens. If a mixture of blood and stool is noticeable, you must take quick action to save the bird. First of all, you need to take the stool sample to a lab and have it examined to determine which microorganism is threatening the chicken’s life.

Runny chicken droppings with blood can mostly be seen when a bird is infected with coccidia, which adversely affects the integrity of the intestinal walls. As we saw above, coccidiosis is treated with antibiotics.

To treat a chicken with bloody bowel movements, you must follow the veterinarian’s orders carefully and administer the proper dosages of antibiotics. You should also provide the chicken with enough water.

Poop monitoring is not fun, and it is definitely not easy. But unfortunately, if you want productive and healthy chickens, you must embrace it as part of your care routine and get good at it.

14 Causes of diarrhea in chickens

Loose droppings are more common than all other ailments in young chickens and are especially characteristic of broiler chickens. Although it might be alarming for a novice chicken keeper, it is mostly normal. In fact, smelly droppings that look like cecal poops should make up around a third of the droppings you see in your chicken coop in the morning.

In normal cecal droppings, no treatment is required. However, if your chicken has actual diarrhea, we’ll look at the causes below and possible treatments.

1. Overindulgence

The most common cause of loose stool in chickens is excess feeding. Just like human beings, chickens can overindulge in a meal they enjoy. They might find their way into your garden and devour your vegetables with no one to control them. The result? Runny poo!

This is not a serious threat to your chicken and will rarely be fatal. Nevertheless, supportive treatment is required, although diarrhea should run its course within 24 to 36 hours. Ensure that your chicken has access to fresh water with added electrolytes and vitamins within this period.

2. Heat stress

On hot days, a chicken will drink more water than usual to cool off, sometimes up to 4 cups. All that fluid and a decreased appetite can cause your chicken to have watery poop.

This is not a serious threat, and treatment is relatively easy. Ensure the chicken has access to cool, clean, fresh water with added electrolytes and vitamins. It also needs to rest somewhere cool. Standing it in cold water will help bring the temperature down. Providing shade and a fan blowing cool air will also help immensely.

You can encourage the chicken to eat by making a feed mash (mixing water with regular feed until you have mashed potato consistency.) That way, it will eat and get hydrated at the same time.

3. Antibiotics

Most antibiotics cause chickens to have diarrhea. This is because antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria, clearing the gut of good bacteria. If your chicken takes some antibiotics, ensure it has enough water with electrolytes and vitamins. You should also provide it with a sufficient, quality feed.

4. Coccidiosis

This disease is caused by a parasite that affects the intestinal lining and gut integrity. It primarily affects young chickens aged between 4 and 8 weeks, although it is not uncommon to see it in older chickens.

Coccidiosis impairs the chicken’s ability to absorb nutrition, causing health challenges such as anemia and weight loss. One of the most notable characteristics of this disease is yellow or brownish-red (bloody) loose stool. The disease needs prompt treatment, or the affected birds will likely die.

You can contact a veterinarian or buy chicken feed with coccidiostat at the feed store. Treatment also includes clean food and water with added electrolytes and probiotics. The brooder area should also be kept extremely clean to avoid reinfection.

5. Toxic ingestion

Chickens are curious creatures and eat anything and everything that looks appealing. While poisoning is rare, it does occur. They are vulnerable to mycotoxins produced by moldy feed or damp bedding. They can also be susceptible to other plant toxins.

Another essential thing to note about poisoning is if you use compost heat as a burial ground for dead animals, ensure they are buried deep below the surface. Rotting carcasses can produce botulism, which can be deadly to your chickens.

Since it is difficult to know precisely what they have eaten, it is crucial to monitor them closely. If their condition persists, contact a vet.

6. Worms and chicken diarrhea

An overload of intestinal worms can cause gut damage, giving your chicken runny poop. The easiest way to find out if worms are behind the watery droppings is by taking a fecal sample to your vet. They should be able to perform a quick, simple test that will determine if your chickens have an intestinal worm overload.

If they do have worms, you will have to deworm each one of them. There’s a wide variety of worming medications in the market: choose one and follow its instructions.

There’s also usually an egg withdrawal period, in which you cannot consume eggs from treated chickens. Since the period varies between treatments, determine how long you have to wait with the medication you choose.

7. Infectious coryza

This is caused by a bacterial infection of the upper airways of the chicken. It is infectious and spreads from bird to bird rapidly. As a result, you should pay special attention to the cleanliness of your coop.

The disease is treatable with the appropriate antibiotics, so you need to consult a vet. You should also isolate infected birds, if possible, to contain the spread. Also, as we saw above, antibiotics might cause diarrhea, so keep that in mind as you administer the treatment.

8. Kidney failure

Kidney failure is becoming increasingly common in chickens nowadays because they have longer lifespans. It can be caused by a diet too low in phosphorus, too high in calcium, decreased water intake, or a virus.

Common symptoms include dehydration, depression, pale combs, loose droppings, and emaciation with loss of muscle mass. You should consult your vet if you suspect your chicken has kidney failure.

9. Egg yolk peritonitis

Unfortunately, this disease is commonly fatal. It is caused by a malfunction in transferring an egg from the ovary to the infundibulum. As a result, the yolk is internalized and can quickly become infected. As a result, the runny poop will look like egg yolk.

This usually leads to septicemia and peritonitis, so quick intervention by a veterinarian is vital to give your chicken a chance.

10. Prolapsed vent

This disease is quite noticeable. The vent can be pushed out of the chicken’s body and become a prolapse. It’s often caused by an abnormally large egg, among other things. This is an emergency and needs quick vet intervention. The chicken also needs to be separated from the flock; otherwise, they cannibalize it.

11. Viruses

There are tens, if not hundreds, of chicken viruses. They range from mere sniffles and diarrhea, which can last several days, to fowl cholera and Marek’s disease.

12. Marek’s disease can cause diarrhea in chickens

Marek’s disease is a deadly chicken virus caused by the herpes virus. It can range from non-pathogenic (not causing disease) to highly pathogenic (causing serious illness and even death.) All this depends on the strain.

Some chickens do not show any signs of the disease and may simply be immune to It, or the strain caught is non-pathogenic. Signs may also vary between birds, and rarely will one exhibit all the symptoms. However, the most common symptoms are:

  1. Occasionally the chicken will have temporary paralysis, which will cure itself.
  2. Diarrhea.
  3. Twisting of the head to one side or backward.
  4. Difficulty in breathing.
  5. Darkened or purple-ish comb.
  6. Blindness.
  7. Lesions around the feather follicles.
  8. Weight loss.

Fortunately, vaccination of chicks will lower their chances of catching the virus and lessen its severity should there be an outbreak. The vaccine helps the bird build better immunity and makes it strong against other viruses as well.

However, part of the problem is that the disease constantly mutates and attacks in new, more severe strains. As a result, your chickens might be vaccinated against Marek’s disease, but not against the infected one.

13. Infectious bronchitis

Infectious bronchitis is a highly contagious viral disease affecting chickens of all ages. It is caused by a single-stranded RNA virus of the family Coronaviridae, which primarily affects chickens.

Young chicks are the most adversely affected by infectious bronchitis and display symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and rattling. Occasionally, there is also facial swelling.

In adult chickens, loose stool and loss of appetite are the predominant symptoms. Egg production also decreases sharply because the disease sometimes damages the reproductive tract.

The easiest way to prevent infectious bronchitis is through good ventilation, draft-free environments, and optimal temperature. Immunity may also be developed by administering a vaccine.

14. Fowl cholera

Also known as avian cholera, this is a highly contagious disease caused by the Pasteurella multocida bacterium. It is seen worldwide and was one of the first infectious diseases to be recognized in the 19th century.

Common signs include:

  1. Coughing.
  2. Diarrhea.
  3. Loss of appetite.
  4. Dejection.
  5. Nasal, ocular, and oral discharge.
  6. Sudden death.
  7. Lameness.
  8. Ruffled feathers.
  9. Swollen joints.

Although the disease is treatable with medications like tetracyclines, sulphonamides, and penicillin, it often recurs after stopping it. As a result, the best way to manage it is through long-term medication.