Do Chickens Vomit? Why do Hens Throw Up?

Chickens don’t vomit the way human beings do. They lack the ability to eject out the contents from their stomachs or crops. Therefore, seeing some fluids come out from your chicken’s beak could mean that there is something very wrong. Usually, the throw up is triggered by the inability of passage materials to get down the throat.

The affected chicken might be having an impaction, a tumor, or simply a dead section of its intestines blocking the passage of food and water. The only way out for such materials is up via the chicken’s throat and mouth. The ejected content is usually dark or vaguely food-like.

Is Vomiting Bad for Chickens?

Absolutely yes! When you see your chicken throwing up, rest assured there is something wrong with it. This kind of vomiting is somehow different from how humans vomit. Chickens’ bodies cannot forcefully remove the contents of their stomachs through the contraction of muscles in their abdomen, diaphragm, and neck.

If you see some fluids and semi-solid substances coming out of their beaks, just know they are vomiting. You may help them throw up, especially if there is an object stuck or blocking their food passage in the throat.

Reasons Why Chickens Throw Up

Many reasons lead to chickens throwing up and they include too much water, ascites syndrome, impacted crop, and sour crop. Below is a detailed explanation of each reason:

– Too Much Water

One of the most common reasons why your chickens could be throwing up is excess water. This phenomenon is most common among young chickens. More often than not, younger chicks drink too much water especially when it is hot outside.

The excess water is likely to come out of their little beaks. This is due to the fact that when chickens or birds in general drink, they simply dip their beaks into the water. They also depend on gravity to get the water flowing down their throats.

Even though chickens have the tongue, they still don’t have the ability to gulp down water or other fluids in the same way as human beings. As a result, most of the water does not make it down their throat as intended. By the time they tilt their heads to their normal position, the excess water pours back out via their beaks.

– Ascites Syndrome

If it is a case of ascites syndrome, you will see your birds oozing some clear fluids out of their mouths. Ascites is a disease that affects different animals in the world, including humans. Normally liver damage and hypertension cause the clear fluid to accumulate in the chicken’s body cavity, causing ascites syndrome.

The disease is considered to be an economic liability, especially among chicken keepers who raise broilers for commercial purposes. Broilers grow so rapidly that their body organs fail to keep up with their growth rate. Ascites is also common in backyard chickens and there are possible reasons why this condition occurs.

Chickens have lungs just like other animals. Unlike human lungs, chickens’ lungs are fixed right inside their thorax cavity. The lungs are also small and cannot expand. So when your chicken demands more oxygen than it can handle, ascites occurs.

Poor ventilation or damp conditions combined with ammonia can significantly reduce the lung’s functionality. Also, poorly ventilated coops can lead to ascites risk. Cancer and tumors among aged chickens can impair liver function.

Therefore, a diseased liver could be one of the reasons your chicken is throwing up a clear liquid. The same problem can be experienced among young chickens due to feeding them harmful food.

Excessive scratch corn is likely to cause fatty liver disease which can possibly lead to the case of ascites. Finally, stress from rapid changes in temperature may as well increase the ascites syndrome in your flock. This reason makes some sense because the condition is associated with an overworked heart and blood pressure.

Ascites is a complicated disease in terms of identifying and treatment. If you suspect that one of your chickens has ascites syndrome, make sure to reach out to your avian veterinary.

– Impacted Crop

A crop is a large pouch found in chickens. It collects food after swallowing. When the crop becomes blocked, it is said to be impacted. Normally this problem occurs due to straw or other tangly staff that fails to pass through the chicken’s digestive system.

Mostly, the impacted crop can lead to some leakages through the chicken’s mouth. Also, the impacted crop can appear as a large swelling inside the chicken’s chest.

To help unblock the impacted crop, you should give the affected chickens a lubricant such as olive oil or vegetable oil before messaging the crop to help remove its contents. If this solution doesn’t work, you can make an incision at the swollen chest to release the materials inside the crop.

– Sour Crop

Sour crop happens whenever the crop fails to empty, just like what happens with an impacted crop. This problem is somehow worse since the contents inside the crop are already fermenting, leading to potential yeast or bacterial infection.

A foul smell from the chicken’s beak and foul-smelling liquid from the beak is a sure sign that your chicken has a sour crop. You can use a number of natural solutions and herbs to help control sour crop.

A perfect example of a solution that you can use is apple cider vinegar, which is a strong antifungal for treating yeast infections. Olive oil, oregano oil, or some lubricant can also be used to loosen the contents before tilting the chicken upside down while massaging the contents of its crop.

Will Chickens Throw Up from Toxic Food?

It depends on the type of food your chicken may have eaten. Some toxic foods can cause your chicken to throw up while others can just pass through the digestive system without being vomited.

Toxic foods that lead to the impacted crop are likely to make your birds throw up in an attempt to clear the food passage.

How to Treat a Chicken that Throws Up?

The moment you spot a liquid or semi-liquid content coming out of the chicken’s beak, you should find out why it is happening. You can refer to the reasons discussed above in order to find a working solution.

If there is too much water, then there is nothing to panic about. However, if it is a foul-smelling liquid or something else, you need to act fast. In this case, hold the throwing up chicken and gently help remove the ‘vomit’.

Once you are sure that your bird is fine, release it to join the rest of the flock. If the situation gets out of hand, reach out to a veterinary officer that specializes in birds particularly chickens for advice and medical intervention.

How to Empty a Chicken Crop?

There is a probability of your chicken choking during the emptying of the crop. If you are not sure about this process, it is wise to contact your veterinary surgeon for professional assistance. However, emptying the chicken crop is a simple and straightforward task although it can stress your chickens. It is a two-person job, so you will need to look for someone else to assist you.

You will start by turning the affected bird upside down in order to empty the contents through the beak. Before you do that, make sure to pour some warm water or liquid paraffin with a handful of teaspoons of olive oil down your chicken’s throat. Then gently massage the crop for about five minutes or a little longer.

While holding the chicken firmly, turn it upside down to massage the contents out of the crop and through the beak for a period of five seconds. Once you are done with this step, turn the chicken back up to the right position to allow it to breathe.


In the real sense, chickens do not vomit. They just remove out some fluid and a combination of food contents through their throats and out of their beaks. Whenever you see your birds throwing up, you should investigate to know the real cause of this problem.

Most likely there is a health problem such as excess water, ascites syndrome, impacted crop, or sour crop. Some of these problems involve food matters that get stuck in the throat or crop, leading to more serious issues.

With a little massage and some professional handling of your birds, you can easily and quickly solve this problem to help your chickens lead a normal life.

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

Questions and Answers

Ehsan Ebrahimzadeh March 11, 2023 Reply

This was really helpful.
Saved my chicken s life.
Thank you so much!!

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