Chickens aren’t very complicated creatures. They eat, walk around, poop, and sleep — pretty simple stuff. However, there’s bound to be some questions that chicken owners have throughout their time owning these creatures that aren’t easily answered through observations.
Whether or not a chicken urinates is, surprisingly, a very common question that people have. While it is a “fun” piece of trivia to know, it’s also important for owners to know as it can help to analyze a chicken’s health.
Do Chickens Pee?
Chickens do pee, but not in the way that most mammals do. Instead of expelling urine through a urethra, chickens simply coat their feces with uric acid and pass that waste in one movement. This creates that characteristic moist black and white chicken poop.
This unique urination technique is utilized by most birds and actually serves a unique purpose. Therefore, you’ll never actually see your chicken urinate, but you’re technically seeing it pee every time that it poops!
Why Don’t Chickens Produce Liquid Urine?
In short, chickens don’t produce liquid urine because of the fact that it’s heavy! Birds have evolved to become as light as possible with their small frames and hollow bones allowing for efficient flight. One way that they stay light is by urinating the way that they do and not storing liquid urine inside of a bladder.
When mammals process protein, the result is urea, which is water-soluble and is passed in the form of pee. Chickens, on the other hand, create uric acid from their protein digestion, which is not water-soluble. This uric acid is deposited on the poop and is visible as white streaks.
Adult chickens poop about every 20 minutes, so this uric acid is processed and passed with the same frequency. This works to keep the chicken as light as possible (although chickens aren’t necessarily known for their flight abilities).
Benefit Of This Unique Bathroom Habit
The way a chicken pees isn’t just an interesting factoid — it’s actually beneficial to chicken keepers! If urine was released as frequently as it is currently but kept separate from the feces, it would make chicken coops almost uninhabitable.
The copious amounts of urine would quickly saturate the bedding, making it extremely smelly and quite full of bacteria. Fortunately, when the uric acid is combined with the poop, everything simply dries and incorporates into the bedding. This results in less of a need to change bedding frequently and keeps chicken coops quite sanitary (as sanitary as a chicken coop can get, really).