Chicken diarrhea is often called enteritis, but the two words are not synonymous. Enteritis is inflammation of the intestines. Diarrhea is one of the signs of IBD. On the other hand, diarrhea has other causes than enteritis. For practical purposes, the two words are often interchangeable. Whether it is the result of enteritis or something else, trying to pinpoint the causes of diarrhea in chickens can be challenging.
Signs of diarrhea in chickens
Chicken diarrhea consists of droppings in which the stool is too loose to hold its shape. In other words, the stool is runny or watery.
Diarrhea is usually accompanied by dehydration and increased thirst. Other indications include loss of appetite and general weakness. Diarrhea leads to slow growth of young chickens and weight loss in mature chickens.
Causes of chicken diarrhea
Diseases that cause diarrhea in chickens tend to be complex. The combinations and interactions of different organisms determine the severity of the condition.
Successful treatment therefore requires knowledge of the organism, or group of organisms, that is causing the condition. Here are some of the most likely causes of diarrhea in chickens:
- bacteria It causes omphalitis in chicks, coli in young birds, paratyphoid in mature chickens, and tuberculosis in aging chickens. All chickens are susceptible to the common cold and staphylococcus aureus.
- viruses It caused gastroesophageal bursitis and Marek’s disease in young chickens and lymphoma in mature chickens. All chickens are susceptible to infectious bronchitis, low-virulence avian influenza, and endemic Newcastle disease.
- parasites These cause diseases that lead to diarrhea: coccidiosis, intestinal cryptosporidiosis, and roundworms, all of which generally affect young chickens.
- yeast The infection causes a sour crop, which usually affects either young chickens or aging chickens.
- blepharitis; (also called vent) characterized by foul-smelling diarrhea sticking to the feathers. It is not a specific disease, but rather a condition caused by many things, including bacteria, fungi, yeast, protozoa, and parasites.
Sometimes you can learn about the disease by looking for the signs in a reliable source. But since many chicken diseases have similar signs, you may need to consult a veterinarian or your state’s poultry disease laboratory for a definitive diagnosis.
When it is not diarrhea
Not all soup poop is diarrhea. For example, cecum droppings (pictured here) are not diarrhea. Also, some medications can thin out the consistency of chicken poop without causing full-blown diarrhea.
Chickens sometimes produce excessive amounts of liquid urine, which is the equivalent of chicken urine. These extra urates soften hard stools, leading to a condition that may look like diarrhea.
Stress often causes chickens to produce more urine than normal. Suddenly chasing or grabbing a chicken can trigger a squirt of runny poo.
In hot weather, chickens drink a lot of water which produces more urine than normal. Eating a lot of juicy fruits and vegetables also leads to increased urination. Such droppings often appear as a pool of fluid surrounding the slightly green solid.
So when chicken poop looks a little runny, don’t panic. Analyze the situation and start first with the easiest answers to what causes diarrhea in chickens.
And that’s today’s news from Cackle Coop.
Gil Damero is the author of The Chicken Health Handbook.