How do chickens digest their food?
Chickens don’t have teeth, so they peck and swallow their food. The food moves to the crop – where it can remain for up to 12 hours, and from the crop into the stomach which is also known as the gizzard.
The gizzard is a muscular part of the stomach and uses grit to grind grains and fibre into smaller, more digestible, particles. From the gizzard, food passes into the small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed.
The residue then passes through the caeca, where bacteria help break down undigested food. From the caeca, food moves to the large intestine, which absorbs water and dries out indigestible foods. This remaining residue passes through the cloaca where the chicken’s urine (the white in chicken droppings) mixes with the waste. Both exit the chicken at the vent, the external opening of the cloaca. It is important to note also that 70% of a chickens immunity is in the gut so keeping it healthy and fully functioning is essential to having a happy healthy chicken and can in part explain why chickens expire quickly – if they are exhibiting any form of digestive upset their entire immune system is compromised.
Use of a prebiotic or microbiome supporting supplement such as Nettex Apple Cider Vinegar, Nettex Herbal Gut Conditioner or Nettex Egg and Shell Support Powder will help to support gut health and digestive function.