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Vent Gleet in Backyard Chickens

Vent gleet isn't pretty and doesn't smell nice. Here's how to easily prevent it - and how to treat it if it's too late to prevent.

I'll spare you the gory photos of a chicken afflicted with vent gleet, but suffice it to say, these girls don't have it - and if they did, it would not be at all pretty to look at.

You can google images of "chicken with vent gleet" if you really want to see what it looks like, but to find out how to easily prevent and treat vent gleet naturally, just read on....


We affectionately call our chickens "fluffy butts" and celebrate "Fluffy Butt Friday" each week - and that's exactly what you want to see in your flock.

What is Vent Gleet in Backyard Chickens?

Vent gleet, which is a fungal yeast infection also referred to as 'thrush' or 'infected cloaca', often shows itself in the form of a dirty, foul-smelling vent due to whitish discharge and diarrhea.

Vent gleet is not exactly an illness in itself, but instead manifests itself due to increased pH levels and an imbalance of bad bacteria in a chicken's digestive tract.

Although not normally fatal if treated quickly, it can spread to the reproductive system quite easily and also result in sour crop and becomes more difficult to treat the longer it goes on.

Not contagious, vent gleet does often show up in multiple flock members since logically they have all been subjected to the same stressors that caused the vent gleet in one.

What are the Signs of Vent Gleet?

Some of the initial signs of vent gleet include ...

  • missing feathers around the vent
  •  pasted up feathers around the vent 
  • redness and swelling in the vent area

Other Symptoms of more advanced vent gleet can include ...

  • diarrhea
  • whitish discharge from vent
  • smelly droppings
  • red or bloody vent
  • soft, swollen abdomen
  • white sores on the vent and/or in the throat
  • sour crop
  • weight loss/decreased appetite
  • decreased energy
  • drop in egg production

What are the Causes of Vent Gleet?

Causes of vent gleet can include ...

  • being deprived of clean water
  • eating moldy feed or scraps
  • excessive heat
  • stress
  • general poor health

How Do I Treat Vent Gleet?

Vent gleet should never be treated with antibiotics; antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria. And chickens suffering vent gleet need all the good bacteria they can get.

Offer Probiotics to Treat Vent Gleet

Instead, concentrating on restoring a healthy bacterial balance in the intestinal tract by boosting the good bacteria with probiotics is the goal of a natural course of treatment.

Treatment should continue until you see clear signs of improvement (it should only take a few days if you catch it fast enough and start treatment immediately).

Your entire flock can be treated with this natural remedy which reintroduces good bacteria into the digestive tract.

Additional Treatment for Vent Gleet includes ..
  • bathing the affected hen to clean the vent area
  • carefully trimming feathers around the vent, if necessary
  • offering a molasses flush consisting of 1/2 Cup of molasses per gallon of water - free choice for several hours then replaced with fresh, plain water
  • adding 2-4 Tablespoons/gallon of apple cider vinegar with the 'mother' (such as Bragg) to the water
  • giving each affected hen 1 Tablespoon of plain unflavored yogurt per day for probiotics (just be aware that too much can cause diarrhea)
  • adding sea kelp to the affected chickens diet to act as a prebiotic (organic Coop Kelp is a good choice) 

How Can I Prevent Vent Gleet?

Prevention of Vent Gleet includes ...
  • providing fresh, clean water and fresh feed, discarding old, wet feed immediately 
  • adding 1 Tablespoon/gallon of apple cider vinegar to the water
  • offering a small amount of plain unflavored yogurt as an occasional treat
Being vigilant and treating any sign of vent gleet immediately should result in quickly restoring the good bacterial balance in your flock's digestive system, while a few preventives will go far to help keep it from happening again.

And remember, fluffy butts are the sign of healthy hens!

Happy Fluffy Butt Friday!

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