Rooster is foaming at the mouth


Aug 26, 2019
1) White Leghorn (I think). 8-9 months old. Weight seems normal.

2) This morning he was fine. He was running around with the others, and my daughter held him for a while, as usual. Now he's standing still as a statue. The hens are moving back and forth around the yard, but he's not joining. They come back and mill around him, and he still doesn't move. He finally went back into the coop with the rest, and now he's standing still next to the feeder, but not doing anything while they feed. He's been in the exact same position for the last 35 minutes. My daughter just went to check on him, and noticed drool/foam coming from his mouth. He seems to be having trouble swallowing.

3) He's been standing still for a few hours. Not sure how long he's been foaming.

4) The other birds seem fine. One of our guinea hens died three days ago, but we were expecting it. She had a large tumor.

5) He recently got frostbite on his comb. He also has some kind of sore on the underside of his comb, but it seems to be getting better.

6) I have no idea why he's doing this. He's usually quite active and healthy.

7) He has been eating and drinking normally. Some of their food got wet in a recent storm, and I'm sure they ate some, but it didn't look moldy to me.

8) Poop looks normal.

9) No treatment so far. We've separated him from the other chickens.

10 ) I'll treat him myself.

11) Pictures attached.

12) Bedding is a mix of straw/shavings. I was in the middle of cleaning the poop boards and replacing soiled bedding when I noticed his strange behavior. He was out in the yard with the others while I worked in the coop.


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Several possibilities. He may have eaten something toxic. Insecticide? Rodent bait? Engine coolant?

He may have an illness, and it may be choking him. You need to look in his mouth for anything other than a clean pink throat.

He could have a crop blockage. Feel his crop. Is it normal golf ball size or larger and lumpier?
Several possibilities. He may have eaten something toxic. Insecticide? Rodent bait? Engine coolant?

I doubt it. I can't think of anything he could've gotten into.

He may have an illness, and it may be choking him. You need to look in his mouth for anything other than a clean pink throat.

It was hard to look, but I didn't notice anything that seemed concerning.

He could have a crop blockage. Feel his crop. Is it normal golf ball size or larger and lumpier?

I've honestly never felt his crop before, but it felt like a golf ball.
That does not 100% mean impacted crop. The bird needs to be separated from food and water for a period of time, then check the crop to make sure it’s flat and empty. That’s the only way to tell - just because it’s firm right now doesn’t absolutely mean impacted crop.
The way that rooster is standing makes me think he has water belly - which if I understand correctly has something to do with a secondary reaction to a larger problem. I will tag some people.

@Wyorp Rock
Can you feel of his crop this morning to see if his crop has emptied? I would try to give him plenty of water. You may want to separate him inside a dog crate with water only if his crop feels full and hard this morning. Also you can try to give him a tsp of oil, such as chilled coconut oil cut into tiny pieces to peck at. Any other oil (olive, mineral, vegetable) should be mixed with a little food such as scrambled egg or a few dry bread crumbs. If his comb is more empty this morning, offer some wet chicken feed. Giving oil orally could cause choking and aspiration. @azygous is very good with crop problems, while I have little success treating.

There have been other cases on BYC of temporary foaming at the mouth, that have gone away on their own, and no one knew the cause. He has a good case of frostbite on his wattles and comb, so it could be that he just does not feel good. You might go ahead and check his lower belly for any enlargement which is a sign of ascites as @Aapomp831 suggested. Is he always in the same position? Is he passing any poops, and what do they look like?
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Can you have someone hold him and take a good look inside his beak?

You mention that some feed got spilled and there any of that left? If so, I would clean all that up. Even in cooler temps feed will mold fairly quickly. I get it, I go around and check my pens all the time no matter what time of year and make sure spills are cleaned up.

Please get some photos of his poop.

I agree, his stance says he's not feeling well - hopefully he's better this morning. I would feel the crop to make sure it emptied.

Getting him hydrated is important so let's see how the day goes. Once he's feeling a bit better, then let's see about the sore you mentioned on the underside of his comb. I can see a bit of that in one photo. With floppy combs, they can get debris stuck in there and it will fester up a bit. Tending it may be something as simple as cleaning it up really well. I haven't had a rooster with that large of comb, but my Leghorn hen's flopped over and it would get dirt caked under there sometimes, I just made sure to wipe her comb off regularly.

He's okay for now. He slept in a dog crate in our basement, with food and water available. I know he drank a little water last night, but I don't know if he actually ate anything. He was crowing down there this morning, seemingly back to his normal self and anxious to get outside. He has been out in the run and yard all day, strutting around as usual. He even chased the dog away when it wandered too close.

I'm very relieved. But since I still don't know what happened, I'm afraid it will happen again. I'm watching him closely. I don't think I did everything right, but for now he seems fine.

As for the frostbite, I'm thinking I might put him in the basement during the night more often. Nothing else I've done seems to help or prevent frostbite, and it keeps getting worse. My guinea fowl always did fine during the winter, but this is the first time I've had chickens. The weather has been so cold and humid, and his comb and wattles are just so big, maybe that's what we have to do during the freezing winter nights.

Thank you all for your advice and help. I appreciate every bit of it.
Frostbite in combs is very common in areas where the temps get down close to zero. Check to see that your coop has some room overhead and good ventilation from one end to the other to let the humidity escape. Keep the coop bedding as dry as possible by adding clean bedding when needed. Hay and straw can stay wet and mold, while pine shavings is a little better. Here is some reading about how to prevent frostbite:

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