Black Chicken Poop: 6 Causes & What to Do

Black chicken poop on a concrete surface

Seeing black chicken poop in your coop can set off alarm bells for any chicken keeper. It’s a sight that can lead to a lot of questions and concerns about the health of your beloved birds. 

Understanding the reasons behind such unusual chicken poop color is necessary, as it can range from perfectly harmless to a sign of something more serious.

This guide will give you a better understanding of black chicken poop and what you can do about it.

What Does Black Chicken Poop Indicate?

Wet black chicken poop on a concrete surface

Black chicken poop often signals a health issue, typically related to their diet or, more seriously, internal bleeding. However, if there hasn’t been any recent trauma, the cause is likely less alarming, such as ingesting dark-colored foods, charcoal, or wood ash.

Beyond diet, environmental factors play a significant role in the health reflected by chicken poop. The presence of black droppings can also be a sign of digestive or absorption issues within the bird. 

While not as dire as internal bleeding, these health concerns require attention to diet, hydration, and possibly veterinary intervention to correct any underlying conditions.

Fun Fact: Chickens are frequent poopers, going about 15 times a day in small quantities. If you ever come across black poop among these numerous little deposits, it’s a clue to look closer at their diet or health, as it’s not their usual color.

Causes of Black Chicken Poop

Black chicken poop on wet wooden surface

While black chicken poop might seem alarming at first, not every cause for concern is a dire health threat. Here are some of the most common reasons behind the black chicken poop:

1. Dietary Choices

Chickens are not picky eaters, and their diet significantly influences the color of their poop. Consumption of dark-colored foods such as blackberries, blueberries, or cherries can naturally turn their droppings black. 

These foods are safe for chickens, and the color change is temporary. It will resolve as their diet varies or those specific foods are digested fully.

2. Ingestion of Charcoal or Wood Ash

Another benign cause of black chicken poop is the ingestion of charcoal or wood ash. 

Chickens pecking around in areas where ash from wood fires or charcoal from grills has been spread might end up consuming these materials. 

While generally not harmful in small quantities, it’s a reminder to monitor where chickens are foraging and what substances they might be ingesting.

3. Internal Bleeding

On the more serious side, black poop can indicate internal bleeding, especially if the chickens have not had access to dark-colored foods or charcoal. 

Blood in the stool can darken as it moves through the digestive system, which results in black droppings. If suspected, a veterinary consultation is crucial to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.

4. Environmental Stressors

Factors such as sudden temperature shifts, relocation, or the introduction of new flock members can stress chickens and can potentially cause digestive upset that manifests in darker droppings. 

Ensuring a stable and stress-free environment helps maintain regular digestive health and poop color.

5. Mycotoxins and Fungal Infections

Exposure to mycotoxins, toxic compounds produced by molds, can lead to significant health issues in chickens, including black chicken poop. 

Mycotoxins can contaminate fermented chicken feed or bedding materials, which can lead to chronic exposure. 

The ingestion of mycotoxins affects the digestive system, causing ulcers, erosions, and bleeding in the gizzard and intestines, which can manifest as black droppings. 

Additionally, fungal infections, evidenced by symptoms like dander, hoarfrost, or black scabs on the cockscomb, can compromise the chicken’s immune system, further contributing to the occurrence of black poop.

6. Nutritional Imbalances and Medication Side Effects

The nutritional content of a chicken’s diet, including the consumption of iron-rich foods or the presence of certain medications and supplements, can also influence the color of their droppings.

A high intake of iron from sources like beetroot or dark leafy greens can cause droppings to darken. 

Furthermore, medications like antibiotics and certain supplements that contain bismuth or activated charcoal may result in blackened poop. 

Check out this video for a closer look at black chicken poop and other feces colors:


What to Do If Your Chicken’s Poop Is Black?

Vet examining a rooster

If your chicken’s poop turns black, the first step is to closely observe their diet and behavior for any other signs of distress or illness. 

This initial assessment can help you determine if the change is diet-related or if there might be a more serious issue at hand.

Next, review what your chickens have been eating. If they’ve had access to dark-colored foods, the black poop might simply be a result of their diet. 

In this case, adjusting their feed and monitoring any changes in their droppings can help confirm the cause.

However, if there’s no obvious dietary reason for the black poop, or if you notice other symptoms such as lethargy, reduced appetite, or unusual vocalizations, it’s important to take action. 

Isolating the affected chicken from the flock can prevent the potential spread of disease and makes it easier to monitor their condition closely.

Don’t hesitate to contact a veterinarian who specializes in poultry when you can’t identify the cause of the black poop or if the chicken’s condition worsens.

Check Your Chicken’s Poop Regularly

Regularly checking your chicken’s poop is recommended, especially when it comes to identifying the cause of black droppings. 

Observing changes in poop color, consistency, or the presence of unusual elements can help you quickly address potential concerns.

I learned the importance of this routine after finding black droppings in my coop last year. Without any obvious reasons like diet changes, I started keeping detailed records. 

This proactive approach became really useful when I consulted with a vet, as it led us to discover a hidden fungal infection in the feed.

You can also check out our chicken poop guide to learn more about the different colors of chicken poop and when you should be alarmed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Black chicken poop on gravel

What Does Healthy Chicken Poop Look Like?

A healthy chicken poop generally includes firm, brown feces accompanied by a white or clear part, which is the urate (the equivalent of urine in birds). 

You might also see somewhat liquid, greenish droppings, which can occur when a chicken has been eating a lot of grass or green vegetation. 

Consistency and color changes throughout the day are normal, as this reflects the bird’s recent diet and water intake.

Is Black Chicken Poop Always a Sign of Illness?

No, black chicken poop is not always a sign of illness. While it can indicate a serious health issue like internal bleeding, especially if the bird hasn’t suffered any trauma, it often results from less concerning factors. 

Consumption of dark-colored foods, such as blackberries or blueberries, or ingesting charcoal or wood ash can turn chicken poop black. 

Can Dehydration Cause Black Poop?

Dehydration itself does not directly cause black poop in chickens. However, dehydration can lead to concentrated waste, which might appear darker than normal. 

It’s crucial to ensure chickens have constant access to fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration and maintain normal digestion and waste elimination. 

Did you find this guide on black chicken poop useful? If you wish to share your own experiences or have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. We’re eager to hear from you and assist you further.

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