Chickens do eat dog poop, yes. Much to the disgust of us watching, it’s perfectly normal - but gross - behavior that comes naturally to them. Being gross aside, there are some potential health risks though so it’s something that should be avoided if possible.
Why Is My Chicken Eating Dog Poop?
If you witnessed your chickens eating dog poop, they're doing this because they are chickens and it's just an innate behavior.
Let's be honest, on the wider picture, pets, in general, do a lot of gross things. As much as we love them and want them to behave with a little decorum, animals are animals.
If you watch your chickens you'll notice that they spend almost all of their time scratching around, foraging, pecking at things, and trying to find anything that might be edible.
Nothing is too gross for them based on texture, smell, or taste. If they think it has some nutritional value, they're going to eat it.
So, if they come across dog poop, they're not going to turn their beaks up because it's poop. Quite the opposite, in my experience, they're going to peck at it and probably eat it. Ewww.
I've read some theories that chickens are more likely to eat poop if they are lacking certain nutrients in their diet, but personally, I can't see that this is the case.
My chickens have always had a well-balanced diet consisting of a good feed and plenty of nutritious treats. Yet, if they come across a poop I know they're going to investigate it.
I do everything I can to avoid this happening. I only have one dog, and as soon as she does her business I'm on it.
Another thing is that dogs will eat chicken poop sometimes! They're all as bad as each other.
Related - Chickens eating dog food, too? Here's the problem with that.
Does Dog Poop Hurt Chickens?
You should not come as much of a surprise that there are some potential health risks for chickens from eating dog poop.
If a dog is carrying bacteria, there's a very good chance that bacteria is going to be passed through into their stool and then passed on to chickens if they eat it.
There are a number of potential diseases, the main ones are E. Coli, salmonellosis, Yersiniosis, and various worms.
You will not even know that your dog has one or more of these bacteria most of the time, that's the scary thing.
Once they start to spread, it's an even bigger problem - so it's certainly worth deterring your flock from eating poop.
So the answer is, yes, dog poop can harm chickens. It's hard to say what the risk is, I wouldn't say it's incredibly high. But it's high enough that you should do something about it if you can.
Related - How to use Safeguard to protect chickens from worms.
How Serious a Risk Is Salmonella?
If you raise chickens or you're interested in poultry, you will have almost certainly heard about salmonella.
Salmonella is a bacteria that can be carried by chickens without them showing any symptoms, and then passed to us through eating their eggs or coming into contact with them.
According to WebMD, salmonella is actually the leading cause of food-related illness in the US. It's very common, but it's an incredibly unpleasant experience and in some cases can result in hospitalization.
Large-scale egg and chicken farmers follow strict biosecurity protocols for the purpose of minimizing the risk of salmonella, as should anyone raising backyard chickens, too.
Salmonella is commonly passed from one animal to another through their feces. It can make its way into your flock via poop from a bird, even with strict biosecurity measures in place.
It can then spread quickly as chickens come into contact with each other's poop, and it can be spread back and forth via dog poop.
What Kind of Animal Would Eat Dog Poop?
There are other reasons why leaving dog poop around where chickens free-range is a bad idea.
For one thing, it's one of the main sources of food for rats and mice and you don't want to do anything to attract more of these rodents into your yard.
Rats are pretty nasty pests, and they are known to steal eggs or break them to eat the insides.
Mice too can become a problem nibbling on chicken feed and causing damage to their coop.
Poop can also attract other birds, not to mention all of the flies and other pests like gastropods.
Most of which chickens will eat, which again, can cause problems if they've been eating infected poop.
It's just a lot of yuk!
Stepping up ‘Poop Patrol'
I've not tried to scare you with all the talk of bacteria and salmonella throughout this article. But there are some genuine causes for concern when chickens eat dog poop or poop from any other animal.
The best advice I can give you is to step up the ‘poop patrol’ in your yard.
It's not a nice job, and no one really wants to do it, but if you're raising chickens I'm sure you're no stranger to getting your hands dirty!
Related - Dogs and chickens can live together if you follow these steps.
There you go, not only is it totally gross seeing chickens eat dog poop it's also potentially very bad for their health and possibly even yours.
The more you can do to clean up the area where your chickens will roam and ensure they're eating plenty of feed, plants, and insects as they would in the wild, the better it is for everyone!
Image credits - Photo by Cameron Elder on Unsplash
Environmental Contamination by Dog’s Faeces - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov