Diarrhea in Chickens – Causes and Treatments

Most poultry keepers spend colossal amounts of money to ensure the happiness of their feathered friends. Some go all the way from building commendable coops to giving them imported high-quality food.

However, when it comes to proper health, most are clueless on how to go about it. It is not uncommon to find novice farmers rush their fowls to the vet at weird hours.

Altogether, diarrhea is one of the most common ailments with chickens. While the condition can cause alarm to inexperienced farmers, there is so much you can do to keep it away.  Keep following as we define leading causes of diarrhea and how to treat it at home.

Causes of Chicken Diarrhea

Similar to human beings, your birds can develop diarrhea from several causes.  Sometimes, the ailment can rectify itself without any intervention. Yet, if the diarrhea is persistent and makes the birds weak, you should find out the leading cause and treat it immediately.

– Overcrowding

Congestion is one major cause of heat stress in poultry. Furthermore, it leads to an increase in pecking orders and diseases. When several chickens are kept in tiny enclosures with inadequate ventilation, there is minimal space to bathe, groom, or exercise.

As a result, it becomes nearly impossible to keep the coop clean, resulting in a surplus of pathogens. In the long run, the enclosure becomes a sanctuary of harmful parasites and for your birds.

Given that chickens are naturally scavengers, foraging in the diet exposes them to many ailments, including diarrhea. Despite your attempt to keep the space clean, it can be a tall order with the amount of poop produced in a day.

You may realize that keeping your birds overcrowded makes them extremely stressed. In some cases, stress can trigger diarrhea and other related conditions.

– Toxic Food

Although chickens are very conscious of what they eat, sometimes their curious nature may take over. You may find them scavenging on stale food or mycotoxins-producing beddings. If this happens for long durations, the lethal material consumed can make the chickens extremely sick.

It would help if you also took caution when you allow your birds to scavenge outdoors. Then avoid burying dead creatures in a compost pit where the birds can access the corpses. Remember that rotting carcasses produce a lethal component known as Botulism.

Since it is never easy to pinpoint the exact causes of diarrhea in your fowls, ensure that you keep them in a clean environment always to minimize the triggers. In addition, keep them away from nightshade family plants like tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes because they contain a poisonous substance called Solanaceae.

Other toxic foodstuff includes avocado, apple seeds, citrus fruits, salty food, and raw beans.

Moreover, please do not give them oily junk food like fries because it can lead to diarrhea. All in all, some experts discourage farmers from feeding their fowls on kitchen leftovers.

Although this practice helps with garbage disposal, ensure that the food is not smelly or moldy. Keep in mind that just like humans, chickens can develop adverse food poisoning symptoms.

– Dirty Drinking Water

We cannot deny that water is an indispensable nutrient for any living organism. In chicken farms, water keeps the birds hydrated and cool, especially in warm summer months. Before filling the waterers, ensure that the content meets the microbiological, chemical, and physical requirements. Water, in its natural form, is all pure and healthy for your flock.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to find freshwater sources not altered by human activities. Hence, wastewaters from urban and agricultural areas trickle down to rivers and springs, putting everyone at risk. The pathogen’s filled water may not only affect aquatic life but is also lethal to human beings and poultry.

If your birds happen to hydrate from a similar source, the unclean water may expose the flock to various protozoans and viral and bacterial ailments. The quickest solution to this menace is observing stiff stipulations on water supply sources. Also, clean the feeding containers thou roughly and give them fresh water daily.

– Bacterial Infection or Viruses

Numerous bacteria and virus ailments affect poultry. It can start from a simple running nose to a severe case of diarrhea. Sometimes diarrhea can be a sign of life-threatening conditions like fowl cholera or Marek disease. More causes of diarrhea are Leukosis, Lymphpoid, and Colibacillosis. There are lesser possibilities of infectious such as coryza and tuberculosis.

Whatever the cause of diarrhea, it is vital to ensure that your chicken’s digestive system gets back to normalcy. Even with proper medication, keep your bird in an optimal clean environment to minimize pathogen invasions. Start by washing your hands every time you attend to your birds. Then, place a disinfectant footbath at the entrance of the coop.

Take note of any unusual symptoms, especially on new chicks from a breeder or birds that have been away for shows. You can tell whether your birds have bacterial or viral infections by observing a change in their appetite, increased listlessness, weight loss, and other symptoms.

Depending on where the disease hits, you can also notice infections on specific body parts like legs or crowns. The brighter side is that most chicken ailments are preventable with proper vaccines. The only thing you need to do is consult a reliable vet about possible vaccinations on mentioned ailments.

– Internal Parasites

Protozoa and worms are the most common internal parasites with chickens. Often, a low infestation may not be a reason to worry about, even when left untreated. Nevertheless, if the problem escalates, you may have to treat all birds on your farm. This is because internal parasites cause severe gut damage leading to continual diarrhea and other complications.

Common tales of parasite invasion include low egg production, poor growth, increased lethargy, constipation, etc. In rare cases, parasite complications may lead to an unhealthy flock and immature death.

Treating Chickens with Diarrhea

Most diarrhea cases from chickens start from infections or filthy living conditions. Depending on the cause of diarrhea, the color may differ from one color to another. Below are various types of chicken diarrhea and how to keep it under control.

– Green Diarrhea

You can notice green diarrhea in young chicks caused by severe poisoning or intestinal infection. Due to their small size, chicks can quickly become dehydrated, leading to death if left untreated.

The good thing is that with antibiotic treatment, you can get impressive results real fast. The treatment duration usually lasts about seven days but varies depending on the bird’s age and disease severity.

– Blood Stained Diarrhea

Blood in chicken poop often indicates a Coccidiosis infection. This is a severe condition that requires instant attention. Take note that the disease usually affects the intestinal and stomach mucous membrane. For this reason, the chickens develop wounds and ulcers in the internal organs.

A laboratory stool helps to discern the microorganism causing the bloodstains. Similar to green diarrhea, you can treat the ailment effectively with antibiotics.

– Brown Diarrhea

An infection with a microorganism known as Aimeria is the main cause of brown diarrhea. The condition spreads very fast among the flock members while exhibiting various symptoms like ruffled feathers, yellow eyes, low appetite, constipation, and reduced energy. Apart from antibiotic treatment, clean the pen and drinkers with hot water to eradicate pathogens.

– White Diarrhea

Most likely, white diarrhea translates to a condition known as Pullorosis in the Salmonella family. The most noticeable symptoms include horse breathing, unpleasant squeak, putrid-smelling diarrhea, and tilted head.

It is not unusual for birds that do not display any signs of infecting others. Therefore, conduct regular clinical tests to prevent future attacks. If the results turn positive, use effective antibiotics brands like Chloramphenicol and furazolidone.

– Gastritis Diarrhea

Visibly transparent diarrhea, constant thirst, and low appetite often point out gastritis complications. Unlike other chicken’s diarrhea, you can bring it to a halt through various home remedies.

One quick solution is giving your bird hard-boiled chicken yolk with some hemp flour. Sometimes calcium deficiency may trigger gastritis diarrhea. Thus, strive to provide your feathered companion a balanced diet and enhance it with supplements.

 Alternative Treatments

Whatever treatment plan you settle for, start it early enough for better results. Most encouraging is that there are traditional treatments equally effective in stopping diarrhea. Some of them include;

  • Clay water; Give to your immediately you notice the initial symptoms. Continue with the dosage for at least two days.
  • Chamomile broth: Ideal for non-infectious cases used for a maximum of two days.
  • Rice broth: This mixture has been used for ages because of its successful fixing effect.
  • Wine Water: Add a little amount of dry red wine with water to make an effective concoction.
  • Potassium Permanganate: Mix a weak solution with water to treat non-infectious diarrhea prevalent with broilers.
  • Baking Soda; Mix with water at a ratio of ½ to 1 liter and give to the sick birds for five to seven days.


Even if diarrhea can be life-threatening, the home-based remedies above guarantee quick relief without vet intervention. If you fail to notice positive changes within two to three days, book an appointment with a qualified veterinarian. Luckily, with modern testing devices, dependable medical experts can manage to identify actual pathogens responsible for your bird’s sickness.

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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