Emergencies/Illness Health Issues

Internal Flushes For Chickens

You might be familiar with the practice of folks imbibing teas, enzymes or other liquids as part of a colon cleanse to reduce wastes and toxins. Similar techniques can be used as part of a first aid treatment regime for chickens suffering from conditions such as ingestion of a toxin, botulism, sour crop or chronic constipation.

The purpose of using these substances internally is to flush out the digestive system, remove compacted poop and toxins from the body. Remember Milk of Magnesia? It’s magnesium that works as a laxative and it’s the magnesium in Epsom salt and molasses that work to move things through the digestive system. Think of them as ‘Nature’s Broom’.

In this post I’ll look at three different products and how you can use them.

Epsom Salts

Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral salt, derived from magnesium and sulphate, unlike table salt which is a sodium compound. They can’t be used interchangeably.

Most folks are familiar with the benefits of having an Epsom salt bath – either for you or your birds. It’s routinely recommended for use to reduce inflammation (e.g. bumblefoot) or relax an egg bound hen.

  • Used for ingestion of a toxin, botulism, sour crop, constipation
  • 3 tsp. Epsom salt dissolved in 1 ½ cups of water
  • Give 2-3 times/day


Molasses is the by-product of the sugar-making process. Manufacturers crush sugar cane or sugar beets to extract the juice, then boil it to form crystals. Molasses is the thick, brown syrup left over once the crystals have been removed from the juice. It’s used as a sweetener in cooking and most often, baking.

  • Used for ingestion of a toxin, botulism, sour crop, constipation
  • 1 tbsp. molasses stirred into 2 cup/water
  • If flock-wide issue give freely; if just an individual bird or for a bird having difficulty drinking administer via syringe
  • Give twice during the first 8 hours only, then switch to Epsom salts

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a fine, odourless, black powder often used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses. Its toxin-absorbing properties have a wide range of medicinal and cosmetic uses.

It’s made by superheating small pieces of carbon-rich materials, such as wood, peat, coconut shells or sawdust. This ‘activation’ process strips the charcoal of previously absorbed molecules and frees up sites allowing it to bind to molecules, ions, or atoms. This process also reduces the size of the pores in the charcoal and makes more holes in each molecule, thereby increasing its overall surface area.

The black powder binds to toxins, stopping them from being absorbed in the stomach. The body is unable to absorb charcoal, and so the toxins are excreted with the charcoal from the body in poop.

  • Used for ingestion of a toxin, botulism
  • 1 tsp. activated charcoal in 8 ounces/water
  • Give twice/day for first 48 hours
  • Do not use within 3 hours of giving mineral oil
  • All the above need to be given orally, via syringe, eyedropper or feeding tube.
  • They can be given consecutively, but not concurrently.
  • Depending on the condition (i.e. botulism) a bird may have difficulty swallowing so read this post on how to safely give oral medications before attempting it.
  • These flushes will cause slight to moderate dehydration as they work to expel toxins and foreign matter from your bird’s system.
  • Epsom salts and molasses can also result in diarrhea.
  • After giving a flush, offer a steady supply of vitamin and electrolyte water until a full recovery is made.
  • I was unable to find recommended dosages for each of these products. My suggestion would be 1cc-2cc per dose.

Credits: Medical News Today; Poultry DVM. Featured Photo: Shutterstock

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