I guess bad things decide that they like to come in waves. Just as Django was getting over his case of fowl pox, I noticed that while Elsa has a runny butt (which I have struggled with her having since she started laying in 2015), Francis also has a runny butt! I’ve looked into multiple causes, and I’ve found a couple things I believe could be the cause, but I’ve also looked into and am treating for vent gleet. Let’s talk about the other causes of runny butt in chickens, first. And I’m going to spare you the photos, because it can be a pretty nasty looking ailment. Just imagine chicken poop, stuck to EVERYTHING on their rear ends.
The mess starts when their poo is runny (diarrhea) instead of fairly solid as it should be. This can occur for a number of reasons. Often, when it’s hot outside and the chickens are drinking more water to stay hydrated, their poo becomes more runny. Sometimes, chickens will simply get a bit of poo stuck to their feathers, which then accumulates, but it should eventually fall off. If it seems to be quite bad, you can give them a bath to loosen the poop from the feathers.
If your chooks consistently have runny, messy butt, one cause could be vent gleet. Vent gleet is basically a chicken yeast infection, and can be coupled with a smelly, puss-like discharge. Some chickens are actually prone to getting these, just like some women are. The best thing you can do to provide relief is to attempt to keep the area clean (to also prevent irritation & fly strike), and feed LOTS of probiotics. Bathing your affected girls in an epsom salt bath can help greatly, and then keep the area clean with a diluted iodine solution followed by an application of coconut oil so that the vent area does not dry out. I generally wear gloves as the bathing and oil application can get pretty nasty. You can clip the feathers around the vent if necessary, however I would not recommend doing so in the winter as their feathers keep them warm. I have noticed that Elsa, who has had consistently runny butt since she began laying, does stop having her issues with her vent when she is incubating and raising chicks (she is on the nest again, so this is year 2 now), so I associate her gleet/issues with egg laying 100%.
My plan to deal with Francis, especially since she is my most flighty bird, is to take her off the roost and bathe her, also feed her an epsom salt solution and some yogurt & ACV. I am also proactively medicating the water for the other birds. I would imagine that since I have a rooster, vent gleet can be transmitted by him to other hens. I’m not sure if roosters display signs/symptoms of vent gleet since they don’t lay eggs. So far, I have not noticed any issues with him.