Chickens Health Issues

Backyard Chickens Vent Gleet: Prevention and Treatment

Okay folks, this post is not going to be pretty.  In fact, some of the photos are just down right yucky!

Vent Gleet in Rescue Hen
Photo Credit: The Animal Sanctuary used with expressed permission.

Vent gleet also sometimes referred to as cloacitis or thrush is a fungal infection involving the digestive and reproductive systems.  Often the first signs of this infection can appear at the vent.  When examining the vent, it appears to have a whitish discharge that can sometimes smell like fermenting yeast.  The feathers surrounding the vent and backside are often missing and coated with fecal material as well as yeasty discharge and some crusting. The skin around the vent can also appear reddened and irritated. The degree of vent gleet can vary. Some cases are quite obvious, and others times it can be more subdued.  A yeast called Candida Albicans is responsible for the infection. All poultry of all ages can be susceptible.  It is not contagious and sometimes, although not often, can occur in roosters.

vent gleet on a chicken
Photo Credit: Old McAndy Farms used with expressed permission.

Causes
-ingesting moldy or spoiled food-especially corn
-contaminated water
-unsanitary conditions
sour crop
-imbalance of the normal occurring bacteria in the digestive system also known as the normal flora
-can occur after the use of oral antibiotics
-mating with an infected hen

Symptoms can vary from case to case but include
-white discharge from the vent
-missing or soiled feathers around the vent
-sour crop
-red or swollen vent- can be bloody if severe case
-loose stools
-decrease or cessation of egg laying
-depression
-decreased appetite or increased appetite
-loss of weight
-Whitish patches/lesions in the mouth
-pasting of vent feathers
-swollen bloated abdomen

Treatment:
Bathe the chicken to help cleanse and soothe the affected area.
-Nystatin liquid suspension provided by the vet to be given orally is very effective for 7-10 days. It is also available online here.
-Anti-fungal creams like those used for athlete’s feet applied topically twice daily to the vent area for 14 days.
-Garlic cloves, 1 per gallon, added to their water supply can be helpful as well.
-During treatment, avoid feeding your chickens foods that have a high water content and can cause watery stools, such watermelon.

Prevention
-Acidify their digestive tract and crop by adding 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with the “mother” to each gallon of their drinking water. Be sure to use plastic waterers as the vinegar will cause the metal ones to rust.
-Add probiotics to their diet by enriching their food or feeding them plain unsweetened yogurt with live and active cultures once per week. This helps to restore the balance of the normal flora.
-Clean the waterers regularly with distilled vinegar.
-Keep the coop and run clean.
-Practice good hygiene. Keep the coop and run clean and dry.
-Never feed the chickens kitchen scraps you would not eat yourself.
-Keep chicken feed dry and stored in weather tight metal garbage cans.
-Discard any questionable or moldy feed.

Vent gleet is not caused by bacteria but yeast, thus trying to cure it with antibiotics is not typically successful and in fact can make matters worse.  Antibiotics can kill off both the bad bacteria and the good bacteria (normal flora) promoting the occurrence of yeast. A chicken that has vent gleet should not be viewed as being a weaker flock member. Vent gleet can occur in any chicken.  By instituting a few simple measures and treating any infected chickens in the flock, soon everyone’s’ butts will be fluffy again.

The fluffy butts of  Tilly’s Nest.

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References available upon request.

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest/see photo captions.

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