Why is My Chicken Having Diarrhea and Losing Feathers?

When your chicken has diarrhea and is losing its feathers, it could signify a serious illness. Chickens, for instance, may have diarrhea and lose their feathers when they have coccidiosis. Avian cholera and chickenpox can also make chickens have diarrhea and shed off their feathers.

Why Do My Chickens Have Diarrhea?

Many factors can make your chicken diarrhea. Some of the causes of diarrhea in chickens are treatable, while others aren’t treatable. Chicken keepers should strive to figure out what precisely makes their chickens diarrhea. Check these common causes of diarrhea in chickens if your chickens have diarrhea.

– Heat Stress

Heat stress is the leading cause of diarrhea in chickens. Chickens eat less and drink more during hot weather, making their poop watery. Consuming too much fluids during hot weather will make your chickens diarrhea.

– Antibiotics

Antibiotics can make your birds diarrhea if you give them antibiotics over a long duration of time. However, antibiotics will only affect the birds that are undergoing treatment. Add an electrolyte or vitamin powder to your flock’s water to stop them from getting severe diarrhea while taking antibiotics. You can also discontinue the antibiotics if diarrhea becomes more severe.

– Stress

Stress also causes diarrhea in chickens. Some events happening around your birds can make them stressed. For instance, changing your birds’ feed or adding new members to the flock can stress your birds, ultimately putting them at risk of diarrhea. Their poop will return to its normal state once they overcome the stressing factors.

– Worms

Worms can make your birds have bloody diarrhea. You can easily detect the worms in your birds’ droppings. Consider worming the entire flock if you notice blood spots in their droppings.

– Diet

What your birds eat can give them diarrhea. For example, stale and moldy feed makes chicken have severe diarrhea. Your birds can have diarrhea after overeating certain watery foods such as blackberries.

Chickens also have diarrhea after eating dead bodies from rats and mice, which they pick up outdoors. Such stale bodies contain poison which can’t only make your birds diarrhea but also kill them quickly.

Health Conditions

Chickens also have diarrhea due to several health conditions. Some of the conditions that can place your birds at risk of getting diarrhea include fowl cholera, Marek’s disease, salmonella, coryza, kidney problems, and Newcastle disease.

Why are My Chickens Losing Feathers?

Other than diarrhea, chicken keepers also complain about their birds losing feathers. Feather loss is a frustrating occurrence for every chicken keeper. Although chickens lose feathers during the annual molt, long-term feather loss can cause panic among chicken keepers.

Several factors other than molting make chicken lose their feathers. Below are some leading causes of feather loss in chickens.

– Stress

When your birds go through stressful events, they will first stop laying eggs. Next, they will cease eating and then experience a mini molt. Some stress factors that can make your chickens lose their feathers include excessive handling, infestations, lack of water and food, weather fluctuations, and loud noises.

– Predator Attacks

Consistent predator attacks can stress your flock, gradually making your birds’ feathers fall out. Chickens that survive predator attacks have plenty of missing feathers. Such attacks can also make your birds lose their flesh, which ultimately makes the chickens lose a huge clump of feathers.

– Diseases and Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition and diseases can make most members of your flock lose their feathers in the long run. Chicken disease such as Marek’s disease, fowl pox, and polyomavirus makes chickens lose feathers.

Malnutrition resulting from inadequate nourishment in chicken feed can make chickens lose their feathers. Your birds are at risk of malnutrition if you don’t provide them with quality feed with complete malnutrition.

Free-range chickens are at a high risk of losing feathers due to poor nutrition if they can’t get complete nutrition from the diet they forage outdoors. These chickens are also at higher risk of diseases which can make them lose feathers over time.

– Infestations

Infestations from mites, lice, and other parasites can make your entire flock lose its feathers. Such parasites usually congregate in specific areas, usually at the bottom of your chickens’ feathers.

Parasites cause intense irritation, making your birds scratch continuously hence pulling out their feathers as they attempt to remove the parasites from their feathers. Parasites also suck chickens’ blood and infect the birds with diseases that make them lose their feathers.

– Preening

Preening is when chickens consume oil from their preen gland. Chickens will lose some feathers in the process of preening. However, chickens are unlikely to lose plenty of feathers during this process, and thus you may not notice any feather loss in your chickens after the preening process.

– Broodiness

Feather loss in broody hens is evident. Broody hens have missing feathers on their breast area since they pluck them and place them on their nests. The missing feathers will, however, regrow within weeks.

Can Worms Cause Chickens to Lose Feathers?

Yes, a heavy worm infestation can make your chickens lose their feathers. Worms will also make your chickens sick, making them vulnerable to feather loss.

How to Treat Your Chicken With Diarrhea?

While diarrhea is a frustrating occurrence for chicken keepers, diarrhea is however treatable. Check these handy tips on treating your chickens if they have diarrhea.

  • Give your bird probiotics instead of antibiotics since the latter can cause diarrhea in your birds.
  • Treat your flock for worms if you suspect your birds have diarrhea due to worms.
  • Stop feeding your birds with stale feed and instead switch to more healthy and fresh feed.
  • Isolate the affected chickens from the flock before they spread any contagious disease that makes your birds diarrhea.
  • Call a vet to treat your chickens before diarrhea becomes more severe

Can Chickens Die from Diarrhea?

Yes, your chickens can die from diarrhea since they will lose plenty of body fluids as they diarrhea. Furthermore, diarrhea can make your chickens weak and unable to feed accordingly, making them vulnerable to death.


Diarrhea and feather loss are some common issues that trouble chicken keepers. Luckily, the two are both treatable and preventable. Take action when you notice diarrhea and feather loss in your chickens before your birds succumb to feather loss and diarrhea.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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