If you own chickens you will have noticed the lack of urine on the floor where they frequent as you’d expect to see with other pets and animals.
So, it’s normal to wonder - do chickens pee? Are they peeing somewhere where it’s not noticeable?
The answer to this question is actually really interesting (at least I think so). Let’s take a closer look at the peeing and pooping habits of chickens!
Do Chickens Pee?
Chickens do pee, yes. But not in the same way as we do, or other mammals.
Chickens - and almost all birds for that matter - do not have a urinary bladder or an external urethral opening. This is very different from us, for example. We collect urine in our bladders, then when we need to pee it exits through the urethra.
So, how the heck does a chicken pee if they’re lacking these bodily functions?
I can explain.
How Does a Chicken Urinate?
First of all, I want to dispel a myth I’ve heard a lot over the years.
Chickens do not urinate through their skin!
In fact, chickens do not even have sweat glands. So, they’re not excreting anything though their skin.
If you’ve never heard this said, it sounds pretty crazy. But, people usually find out that chickens do not urinate as we do, and jump to some kind of conclusion to try and explain it.
The fact is, that chickens produce uric acid as a by-product of protein metabolism instead of urea as we do.
Uric acid crystals are not water-soluble, so they end up being deposited in the fecal matter when a chicken defecates.
If you look at some chicken poo you’ll see exactly what I mean. It usually looks like little white crystals in their poop.
Does Not Producing Liquid Urine Help Chickens?
I like studying evolution and finding reasons behind why animals behave in certain ways, and why their bodies work in certain ways.
The benefit to chickens and other birds processing their pee this way is that it helps them stay lighter. Liquid urine is heavy!
Chicks also poop fairly often, too. It’s estimated that adult chickens poop once every 25 minutes or do. They’re producing uric acid frequently and getting rid of this material when they defecate.
Now, chickens aren’t great at flying. But a lot of other birds are, so having their digestive system working in this way makes it a lot easier for them to fly as they’re lighter.
Plus, let’s consider for a moment what it would be like if birds were peeing while they flew overhead! Avoiding bird poop is problematic enough.
It’s also a huge benefit to us as backyard chicken keepers. Cleaning up behind our chicks would be a nightmare if they were peeing liquid as often as they poop’d too, right?
Related content - How long can chickens go without water?
Some Pee and Poop-Related Questions:
Do Chickens Pee and Poop From the Same Hole?
Yes, they do.
Chickens poop, pee (as explained above) and lay eggs from the same hole - which is called a vent or a cloaca.
I know what you’re thinking, it sounds a bit gross as we handle and eat (not the shell) those eggs. However, when an egg is coming out, the chicken’s Cloaca turns inside out so the eggshell doesn’t come into contact with fecal matter.
It’s actually an incredibly clever and functional design that works for chickens.
Do Chickens Pee and Poop at the Same Time?
Yes, chickens do pee and poop at the same time.
This was always a kind of rumor I’d hear while growing up, but I never really knew what it meant or if it was true.
It sounds so strange when you take into account how mammals urinate and poop, doesn’t it? But chickens and birds, in particular, are very different to use anatomically.
I explained this in more detail above, but the short answer is that uric acid crystals (urine) are deposited in a chickens poop and is expelled at the same time.
But let’s be honest, it’s a pretty efficient way to function, isn’t it?
How Often Do Chickens Poo and Pee?
This is another question I hear a lot. People want to know how much mess chickens make before getting some, or wonder how long they can hold them for before being pooped on!
And I can’t blame them.
I’ve done the messy research for you, so you don’t have to.
There are some factors that determine how often a chicken poops. The size makes a big difference, smaller birds and baby chicks poop much more often than larger birds.
Small chickens can poop as frequently as every 10 minutes. While I’d say the average frequency for an averaged sized adult chicken is between 20-25 minutes.
They’re regular poopers, that’s for sure. But it’s small amounts in frequency. If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of getting some backyard chickens, don’t let cleaning up after them put you off.
It’s not something I hear putting people off owning chickens.