Why do Chickens Scratch Their Eyes?

Chickens can scratch their eyes for many reasons. For instance, your flock members could be scratching their eyes when they have dirt in their eyes.

They could also be scratching because of a possible eye infection. You shouldn’t assume some instances when your chickens scratch their eyes, yet they look healthy.

Your chickens could have a parasitic infection, or the birds could have some eye infections that risk spreading to other healthy birds.

Possible Reasons for Chickens Scratching Their Eyes

If your chickens have constantly been scratching their eyes, as one of the most experienced chicken keepers told me, there is a big problem. You need to understand why some of the flock members in your flock are scratching their eyes.

Here are some reasons why your chickens could be scratching their eyes:

Dust or Dirt Particles

Dust particles and dirt can cause eye irritations in chickens’ eyes. Some of the chickens could be scratching their eyes due to dust or dust particles that are in their eyes.

Not because they have severe eye infections but because these chickens could have dust particles prompting them to scratch their eyes constantly.

Chickens that scratch on their sawdust bedding can get dust and dirt particles that could cause eye irritation.

Backyard chickens that dig pits to dust bathe could be scratching their eyes to get rid of the dust they get after having some dirt particles in their eyes. Overall, your flock could be scratching their eyes to get rid of dirt particles and dust in their eyes.

External Parasites

External parasites like mites and lice can get too close to your chickens’ eyes, forcing the birds to scratch their eyes to eliminate these external parasites, especially when one of the parasites gets into their eyes.

Your chickens could also be scratching their eyes to eliminate the bothering external parasites around their eye regions.

Or, the birds could be scratching their eyes to stop the external parasites from getting into their eyes.

Infection of the Eye

The infection of a chicken’s eyes due to many diseases can also make chickens scratch their eyes.

Backyard chickens suffering from infectious Coryza will scratch their eyes constantly because of the irritation this disease causes to a chicken’s eye or eye (s). Coryza makes the chickens’ eyes gray, making the bird partially blind.

High ammonia levels due to a high amount of chicken droppings in a coop can cause infections that make chickens scratch their eyes.

Fowl pox also causes eye infections and irritations that make chicken scratch their eyes. Fowl pox, for example, makes chickens develop lesions near their eyes.

Early signs of Fowl pox in chickens include mild blindness, which quickly progresses to swelling around a chicken’s eye, making the bird blind in the long run.

Chickens with Fowl Pox can also develop mild redness around their eyes, making the birds constantly scratch their eyes as they try to fight off the eye irritations that come with Fowl Pox.

Early symptoms of diseases like Marek’s disease can make chickens scratch their eyes. These symptoms can make chickens partially blind if they don’t get treatment for this disease.

Chickens with Marek’s disease will usually scratch their eyes as they try to fight off the irritation they feel in their eyes because of this condition. Eyes allergies can also make chickens scratch their eyes.

Some chickens are allergic to dirt and pollen and constantly scratch their eyes when these allergens enter them.

Some allergens that cause eye diseases that can make your flock start scratching its eyes are pollen grains and dust.

How to Prevent Chicken Eye Problems

Although several eye problems can make chickens scratch their eyes, you can prevent many chicken eye problems through some simple ways.

These are some things you need to do to avoid chicken eye problems in your flock:

  • Keep the coop clean– dirty coops are a haven of factors that make chickens suffer from eye infections and other things that will make your birds scratch their eyes. For instance, a dusty coop is full of dust, a leading factor that makes chickens scratch their eyes because of the dust getting into them. Dust can also cause eye irritation among chickens that are highly dust allergic. It would help if you cleaned the chicken coop to eliminate diseases and dust that make your chickens prone to eye irritations.
  • Check for external parasites-External parasites also cause eye irritations that will make your chickens scratch their eyes constantly. Please check your flock for any external parasites in the chicken coop that expose them to eye diseases and irritations.
  • Watch for infectious diseases– Chickens scratch their eyes due to contagious eye diseases. Most of these diseases are controllable at early stages. For instance, you should monitor whether your flock has Fowl Pox or Marek’s disease, which can lead to eye infections and irritations that will make your birds scratch their eyes. You can kindly consult a vet if you aren’t sure your flock is suffering from any diseases that will most probably cause irritable and contagious eye conditions in your chickens.
  • Provide a balanced diet and clean water– A balanced diet will help provide essential minerals and vitamins, like vitamin K, to keep your chickens’ eyes healthy. Water also provides fluids for the chicken eyes to remain fluid and makes them less likely to experience conditions and irritations that will prompt the chickens to start scratching their eyes.

What to Do if Chicken is Scratching Its Eye Excessively

Kindly reach out to a vet if your chickens are scratching their eyes excessively and there isn’t anything possible to stop this trend.

The vet will administer medications that will heal the infections that cause eye irritations in your chickens.

You can also change the environment in which your chickens live by ensuring they live in clean environments that won’t expose them to the risk of eye infections.


Chickens scratch their eyes because of various reasons.

For instance, your chickens could be scratching their eyes because of living in dirty coops or because of infectious diseases.

You can prevent such conditions by ensuring your flock has needs that will prompt it to have good eye health.

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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