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diarrhea or constipation? A chicken poo question

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Astrid, Dec 30, 2007.

  1. Astrid

    Astrid Songster 10 Years

    Dec 30, 2007
    Let me preface this inquiry with the fact that I'm new to hens, but adore mine and worry over them probably more than I should.

    Now to my question: I have four hens-- two Buff Orpingtons and two Plymouth Rocks. All four are about 8 months old. All four are eating well, laying well and very active. About a month ago, the two Rocks suddenly started to have very dirty "chicken bottoms." ;-) I thought they must have diarrhea for some reason, but was advised that no, it was in fact the opposite--- a case of constipation, and was told to put molasses in their water.

    I washed and blow-dried the rocks' bottoms (with help from my dh, who was sweet about it but thought I was nuts![​IMG]) and dosed the water with molasses for two weeks. They're no better, really. Still messy. The Buffs are not dirty at all, though all four eat the same diet (layer pellets, scratch and treats such as oatmeal, cabbage, etc. whenever we've got leftovers)

    The Rocks seem to be acting fine, but I'm wondering why they are messy and the Buffs are not. Is this something I should treat? What can I do about it?

    Thanks for any advice! Astrid
  2. sammi

    sammi Songster

    Dec 21, 2007
    Southeast USA
    please describe the actual droppings (color and consistency)
    a good way to check is look under the roosts where they sit in the morning if you can't watch them.

    have they been wormed?
    if so, when? and what was used?

    what country are you in, and what is the climate?

    could they be eating more then their share of kitchen scraps?
    do you feed scratch corn?

    try clipping the lower vent feathers to help stop them from catching the droppings..
    not too short tho..not to the shaft.

    all birds have "cecal" droppings several times a day..
    these can be dark, messy and smelly..
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    If you are just talking about a little poo dribble on their bum feathers, some birds have longer bum feathers than others so it gets caught up in it. You can trim the feather bums down a bit and see if it continues to happen.
  4. Astrid

    Astrid Songster 10 Years

    Dec 30, 2007
    I'll answer your questions below:

    I live in Connecticut, USA

    The birds get layer pellets (free choice), cracked corn scratch, and a wide variety of kitchen scraps (greens, sometimes I make them a pan of oatmeal or grits, etc.)

    I wormed them a month or so ago with LOTS of cayenne pepper mixed into oatmeal; I read this was safe and effective (?) as we'd like to stay away from chemicals, etc.

    They roost on a shelf in our coop. The coop was originally a small shed attached to our carriage barn, separated by a heavy rolling door. We built a lovely roost for them but they prefer the wide shelf that we left in place. They all pile up together on it. The droppings on the roost mostly look normal, with a few that appear kind of soft and spread-out. Chocolately-brown, sort of.

    What I don't understand is that only the Rocks seem to have this problem. The Buffs, who also have ample feathering on their chicken-hineys are clean as a whistle. The Rocks look awful, and I worry that it's uncomfortable for them.

    If it's just a matter of clipping the feathers, how do I do that? With scissors? How short is too short? It seems like the short feathers would be poking them when they roost. One has a big load of dried-on poo hanging on her lower vent feathers.

    I know this is a crazy question......thanks for bearing with me! My mom keeps telling me that if I had 40 chickens, who'd know what their bums looked like? [​IMG] I just want to be certain it's not an illness, and it's not causing them discomfort!
  5. Astrid

    Astrid Songster 10 Years

    Dec 30, 2007
    Hi there,
    Just trying to get a bit more feedback on my messy chicken bottom question. It seems to be worst for only one of my two Rocks.

    I'm a new, nervous chicken-mom and I want my girls to be happy and healthy!

  6. sammi

    sammi Songster

    Dec 21, 2007
    Southeast USA
    just clip the ends of the feathers..you don't want to cut the shafts..just clip so the feathers don't catch the droppings.
    make sure the vents are always clear.

    try cutting back on those kitchen scraps.
    what all is in the kitchen scraps?

    are you using milk to make the oatmeal?
    cut back on the grits.
    don't use milk..just water.

    try to get them some plain, unsweetened active culture yogurt..mix with a little feed, oatmeal, or in a separate dish.

    some hens are more sensitive to some foods then others..including scratch and other grains..and have more trouble digesting them.

    I've heard of using the cayenne pepper for worming..
    but don't have experience with it.
    how much did you use?
  7. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    and dosed the water with molasses for two weeks.

    This is much too long a period for using molasses see here (advised for diarrea):
    The following solutions or mixtures are recommended to flush the digestive system of toxic substances, most notably for treating birds exposed to botulism toxins.

    Molasses Solution:
    Add one pint of molasses to 5 gallons of water
    Offer the drinking solution free-choice to the affected birds for about four hours. Treat severely affected birds individually if they cannot drink. Return the birds to regular water after the treatment period.

    As a supportive treatment for symptoms resulting from Cryptosporidia infection, often referred to as coronaviral enteritis, use:
    One quart molasses in 20 gallons of water
    .Offer this solution free-choice for a period of up to 7-10 days. It is assumed that the molasses replaces certain minerals lost from diarrhea during the course of the infection....."

    Quote:This will not be effective if your birds have an active worm infestation (btw>cayenne pepper is know not to help with worms but to activate the immune system to fight off pathogens -not parasites)...I know of no natural (non-pharmaceutical) solution to treat an active worm infestation unfortunately (though there are several to help in the management to prevent)...
    Quote:I would suggest you take an ample faecal sample in to the vet and get it tested... and give them a good general poultry supplement and offer free choice live culture yogurt.
    If it were me I would worm them with a broad spectrum wormer such as ivomec Eprinex ...here is a link on that :
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2008
  8. Astrid

    Astrid Songster 10 Years

    Dec 30, 2007
    I never saw any evidence of worms, but was advised to do the cayenne pepper treatment "just in case."

    No, they don't get milk products at all (not in oatmeal or grits) but I have given them a bit of yogurt on occasion to try and help with the diarrhea.

    If she's eating, acting and laying fine, should I worry?
  9. thechickenfarmer

    thechickenfarmer Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Hey Astrid,
    I had this same problem when I first got my chickens. Someone told me to give them yogurt, which really helped. I have a yogurt maker, I still occasionally make a batch for them and they love it! I also don't like to use chemicals, I use wormgard plus w/ flax from McMurray. Here's the link:


    I also have been giving them Avia Charge 2000 since the fall and they all look really great! [​IMG] Hope this helps...Jen

    PS...Did you get my PM about Blue Seal? I was there the other day stocking up and thought of you. Did you find what you were looking for?
  10. Astrid

    Astrid Songster 10 Years

    Dec 30, 2007
    HI there,
    No, haven't checked my messages-- I'll do that asap! Thanks!

    I"m going to try the yogurt. I don't know why it's only the rocks who have this "issue." UGGHH!
    It's bugging me, though.

    Thanks, everyone!


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