Table of Contents
One of the activities of every poultry keeper is observing chickens. I spent at least 15 minutes each day watching my chickens. Just standing in the coop and looking at how they are behaving, their feathers and their droppings.
I am keeping a batch of broilers.On one my watch and observing tours to the chicken coop last week, I noticed that some of the chicken poop was red in color. The red color was tinted with orange color. Some of the droppings that had the reddish color were watery while others were firm and solid.
My first inclination was the dreaded coccidiosis. Coccidiosis is responsible for 40% of flock mortalities, especially in young chicks. It is so common that most chicken starter feed has coccidiosis medication added as a preventive measure.
On doing research I realized that there are other causes of red chicken poop, other than coccidiosis.
Red chicken poop is caused by two issues – coccidiosis and shedding of intestinal lining. The reddish colour may vary from red to orange to bright pink. It might appear to be small red strands, a single contiguous red layer or red droplets in the chicken poop.
Testing whether it is blood in the chicken poop.
The first thing to do when you encounter reddish chicken poop is to determine if the red color is blood or something else. To test if the red color in chicken poop is blood:-
- Pick the droppings and feel it with your fingers. Make sure you wear a glove. If the reddish feels like a contiguous joined piece, then it is stomach lining.
- Put the poop in a glass of water. If the water turns pink, then the red color is blood. This means the blood in the poop has mixed with the water. Intestinal linings are more solid and will not dissolve in water.
Shedding of intestinal lining.
From time to time, chickens shed their intestinal lining. This can cause one to panic, but shedding of the intestinal lining in chickens is perfectly normal.
The intestinal lining regenerates itself, creating new cells. As part of the process the old lining needs to get out of the body. In chickens this happens through their droppings.
The color of the intestinal linings in chicken droppings vary from dull pink to cherry red or dull orange.
Chickens that are shedding their intestinal linings will not look sick. They will behave normally, eat and drink normally.
It is always a good practice to do a test when you suspect the reddish color in the chicken droppings in blood. The tests include feeling the poop with your hands. Wear a glove, pick the chicken poop and feel the reddish part.
If it feels more solid and is contiguous, you have nothing to worry about. It is the normal process of shedding intestinal linings. The other test is putting the chicken poop in water. If the water turns color to pink, it is blood. And you must take action immediately.
If the reddish part does not dissolve in the water, then it is shedding of intestinal lining and you have nothing to worry about.
Shedding of intestinal linings should be something to worry about if it is happening frequently. This means that something else, other than the normal regeneration of cells is causing the chickens to shed their intestinal linings.
This can be a sign of parasites such as worms in the chicken’s digestive system. Further investigation will be needed and appropriate medication administered in order to deal with the cause.
The other cause of reddish color in chicken droppings is Coccidia. Coccidiosis is caused by a parasite known as coccidia that drills into the chicken intestines. This causes injuries leading to bloody stool.
The injured tissue heals into a wound and will never absorb nutrients into the system of the chicken. This and the fact that the parasite is feeding on the chickens blood is what leads to the chickens being weak and can be fatal if not dealt with.
Coccidiosis does not always come with blood in the chicken poop. The major signs of coccidia are lethargy, lack of appetite (not eating, not drinking).
Coccidia is more common in young chicks than in older birds. Older birds develop immunity with time. The only time older birds will get coccidiosis is when exposed to new strains of the parasite.
Poultry keepers use medicated feed in order to keep coccidiosis at bay. Medicated feed contains coccidiostat, which is meant to limit the growth of coccidia oocysts. This gives the chicks time to develop immunity against the parasite. The most used coccidiostat in chick feed is Amprolium. The dosage on Approlium in medicated starter feed is not meant to treat coccidiosis, but helps give time for the chicks to develop resistance against coccidia.
When you reach the conclusion that the reddish color in chicken poop is being caused by coccidia, you will need to get into action immediately and start treatment.
The common medication for coccidia is Corid, which contains 96mg of Amprolium per milligram. Corid comes in powder and liquid forms. It is mixed in the chickens’ drinking water for 3 to 5 days in order to successfully treat coccidiosis.
While the red color in chicken poop might be nothing to worry about, it is a good practice to determine if the reddish color is blood or not. Blood in the chicken droppings will most likely be a sign of coccidiosis. If it is not blood, then most likely it is shedding of intestinal linings.
Shedding of intestinal linings is usually a normal process in chickens but frequent shedding of intestinal lining is not. It might be a sign of internal parasites causing disturbances in the intestines and will need to be dealt with.