Did I kill my chicken by force-feeding it peppers?


7 Years
Jul 22, 2014
Wellington, New Zealand
Three days ago I noticed that one of my chickens wasn't walking around; instead, she was just standing in one place. Seemingly, she had worms again. This particular chicken had had worms twice before, and had acted like this both times. The following day, I squirted some water with expired de-worming medicine in it down her throat (I didn't want to use expired medicine, but the only shop where I live that sells de-worming medicine didn't have any fresh medicine available at the time).
Then, yesterday, my chicken got worse. Instead of standing, she was only sitting; this made me think that perhaps the medicine had lost most of its effectiveness. Despite this, I gave her some more of the expired medicine, and also decided to read up on any other possible treatments for worms. I read that peppers are good for chickens, so I put two teaspoons of cayenne pepper and three teaspoons of black pepper down her throat. This was apparently a mistake, because I think it was only after I did this that she started breathing heavily.
Well, I think it's obvious what happened by now. I woke up at 5:30 am this morning to check on her, and she was still alive (and still breathing heavily), but when I checked again three hours later, she was stone dead.
Perhaps I'm being too presumptuous, but the conclusion I've drawn from this experience is that chickens shouldn't be force-fed peppers.


Head nut at the nut house
5 Years
May 2, 2017
Leicestershire UK
I'm no expert but I would not have given them anything other then the wormer even if it was slightly out of date. If the pepper was powdered and given as a powder stright in the mouth and not mixed in water it might have gone into the lungs and caused irritation. Sorry for your loss tho

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Sep 20, 2015
Southern N.C. Mountains
Sorry for your loss.

It does sound like she aspirated the pepper.

Depending on how long the worm medication has been expired and how it was stored, it most likely was still good.

Worms could have been your issue, but there's always a few other things to consider when you find a hen with symptoms you describe. Internal laying/reproductive disorders, being egg bound and possibly eating something that was rotten are all candidates as well.


5 Years
Feb 19, 2016
Napavine, WA
I agree that she aspirated the pepper. When you syringe feed (or force feed) anything to a bird you have to make sure it is going in the esophagus. It sounds like your hen got it in her airway instead and died from aspiration.

There is more than one kind of pepper. Bell peppers are good for chickens. Cayenne pepper and black pepper, not so much.
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Crossing the Road
13 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Holts Summit, Missouri
I feed my hens from which hatching eggs are desired a lot of paprika, cayenne or chili pepper powder mixed in feed in amounts well above that would be used for flavor enhancing. No ill effects. I also force feed on occasion although always with a fluidized feed pushed through a tube. Powders of any sort would be a no-no as likely to go wrong way.

A wormy bird so weakened would more often than not consume medicated water voluntarily.

Bird in this case was over managed. If problem happens again, then allow voluntary consumption and mix pepper powder into a wetted and highly palatable feed. Also keep in mind such infested birds have osmotic issues that might benefit from use of electrolytes and potentially secondary infections manageable with antibiotics.

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