Why Do Chickens Eat Their Own Poop?

Like most creatures such as dogs and pigs, chickens also engage in coprophagia, a behavior where an animal eats its feces. Coprophagia can benefit chickens since chicken poop contains nutrients that chickens’ bodies can’t absorb.

However, some risks come with chickens eating their droppings. For instance, chickens can get sick from eating droppings from other sick chickens.

Is It Normal for Chickens to Eat Their Poop?

Yes, it’s perfectly normal for chickens to eat their poop. These birds aren’t unique for practicing coprophagia. This behavior is usually part of chickens’ genetic makeup. Chickens have been eating their poop for thousands of years.

When you see your chickens pecking at their droppings, they are looking for seeds, grains, and other vital nutrients. Most chickens are fecal eaters, and they consider droppings part of their everyday diet.

Chickens will double-check their droppings for any undigested matter. They won’t hesitate to peck at the droppings if they notice any pleasant material in their poop, such as undigested chicken feed or plant material. Poop eating in chickens can also be a sign of a deficiency.

Chickens can turn to their poop if they lack essential minerals. The same these birds resort to eating their eggs when they have a calcium deficiency.

Risks of Chickens Eating Their Poop

Although eating poop is part of a chicken’s normal behavior, there are several risks of chickens eating their droppings. For instance, chickens usually get sick after eating their poop.

One sick bird will infect the entire flock if its droppings contain harmful bacteria like salmonella, E.Coli, Avian viruses, and Campylobacter. Such harmful bacteria can kill your chickens and wipe out the entire flock in days.

Chicken keepers need to inspect their birds’ poop to ensure it is healthy for their chickens’ consumption. Healthy chicken poop is usually yellow and black. The poop also has some flecks of white. However, runny and lustrously looking poop is an indication that a chicken could be ill. Clear such poop before your chickens start pecking at the droppings.

The other risk of chickens eating their poop is that chicken poop can contain worms. Even if your chickens’ droppings look healthy, worms could be burrowing in the poop. Worms are pretty tiny, and you will barely notice them in your birds’ droppings.

The risks of chickens eating their poop outweigh the benefits your birds will derive from eating their droppings. That said, clear away chicken droppings if you notice your birds pecking at their droppings since you never know whether they will fall sick after feeding on the droppings.

How to Stop Chickens Eating Their Poop?

Chickens can benefit from eating their poop. After all, chicken keepers can’t establish precisely what is in the chicken droppings that interests their birds. Nevertheless, eating poop can be problematic for your birds over time.

That’s why it’s crucial to stop coprophagia in your chickens. Below are actionable tips to help your chickens stop eating their droppings.

– Clear Fresh Chicken Poop

Chickens that indulge in coprophagia usually prefer fresh chicken droppings over dry droppings. Your chickens won’t hesitate to eat their fresh poop if you leave it for hours.

It would be prudent to immediately clear fresh chicken your chickens defecate to ensure there aren’t any droppings left for your chickens to eat. The faster you clear away the poop, the better since chickens won’t eat the pop.

– Give Your Birds Enough Food

Starvation can encourage your birds to start eating their poop. Chickens with limited food are likely to eat their droppings to compensate for the lack of food. It’s vital to make sure your chickens’ stomachs are full throughout.

Chickens will spend a significant part of the day eating, and they thus require food at their disposal all the time. If your indoor chickens aren’t eating enough, they will probably start eating their droppings since they don’t have anything to eat.

– Try Dietary Supplements

Although chickens eating their poop seems like a normal behavior in these birds, this isn’t always the case. Mineral and nutrient deficiencies can make your chickens eat their droppings. If your chickens aren’t getting sufficient protein from their diet, they will likely turn to their droppings to derive additional protein.

Introduce some protein supplements to your birds’ diet to ensure they have an adequate protein intake. Try dietary supplements to give your chickens any vital nutrients or minerals you think your birds could be missing from their regular diet.

Is it Safe for Chickens to Eat Animal Poop?

Chickens eat animal poop for the same reason they consume their droppings. It isn’t a surprise to see some backyard chickens eating sheep, dog, pig, or cat poop.

As much as it might seem disgusting to see your chickens eat other animals’ poop, especially dog poop, your chickens will benefit from eating animal poop. For instance, your chickens could be deriving plenty of proteins from eating dog poop since most dog foods are high in protein.

However, it isn’t safe for chickens to eat other animal poop. Dog poop, for instance, could be a haven for harmful bacteria, including salmonella.

Your chickens could suffer or even die after eating dog poop with bacteria since this bacteria is highly infectious and can spread rapidly among your flock. Animal poop also contains worms, considering most farmers rarely deworm their animals.

Therefore, it isn’t an excellent idea to allow your chickens to eat other animal poop even if the birds are deriving plenty of nutritional value from the animal poop.

Can Chickens Die From Eating Poop?

Chickens may not necessarily die from eating poop. After all, poop isn’t toxic, and it may contain beneficial minerals and nutrients. However, your birds can get harmful bacteria and worms from eating poop. Simply put, poop might not kill your chickens directly, but it can directly kill your birds.

Conclusion

Although poop eating is disgusting in chickens, these birds will occasionally peck at their droppings. Your birds will eat their poop, mostly to get some crucial nutrients and minerals.

However, the risks of chickens eating their poop are too many compared to the benefits of eating poop. Chicken keepers should try to avoid instances of their chickens eating their droppings.

Chickens   Updated: June 30, 2022
avatar 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.

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