My family and I were helping take care of some chickens the other day (you know, as people do), and my son ran up to me laughing. 

He said he’d heard it burp! At first, I thought it was something he made up, but when I did some research on the topic, I learned more than I ever thought I’d want to about this topic. 

While it may seem unusual, chickens can and do burp. It doesn’t sound too similar to human burps, and it’s usually a harmless sound that comes from eating too fast or having an upset stomach. In rare cases, repeating burping may signify a more serious illness such as an impacted, sour, or pendulous crop. 

Read on to learn more about this gassy subject. 

do chickens burp

Can Chickens Burp?

Absolutely, chickens do burp. It may not sound as belchy or cavernous as some of our human burps, but it clearly sounds like what you’d think a chicken would burp like. 

Burps are caused when there is excess gas in the digestive system for all creatures. It’s not common for chickens to burp, but neither is it cause for immediate concern. 

There is some disagreement with this belief that chickens can burp in the traditional sense. 

Chickens and most birds lack the muscled sphincter humans and mammals do that forces the air out of their digestive systems. 

This is true, which is why I say it’s not the same. 

However, birds and chickens can vomit, and this is similar. If there’s enough gas in their bellies, they can let this air escape through their mouths too. 

Maybe it doesn’t work exactly the same, but it’s functionally similar. 

Plus, it sounds kind of like a burp too.  

What Does It Mean When A Chicken Burps?

In most cases, a burp or stomach sound just means they ate a little too fast. 

It happens with humans too (believe me, I have three boys at home, so I know all about eating too fast and burping!). 

Depending on the chicken’s personality, they may eat more forcefully than the others. This could result in extra burps. 

A few doors down, our neighbor has one chicken that gets over-the-top, visibly excited at the prospect of food, and chows down like crazy. I suspect it was this one my son heard burp. 

Not every burp is so innocent, though, and it’s your job as a chicken owner to know the difference. 

When Should You Be Worried About Chicken Burps?

Let’s start by saying that any time you’re worried, take your pet to the vet. Or have them come to visit if you’re on a larger farm and need more than just one chicken looked at. 

However, in most cases, burps aren’t worrisome. Most vets will say there are two main qualifiers for being concerned about chicken burps: 

  • It occurs a lot over about a week. 
  • There are other symptoms of illness at the same time. 

Burps can be a symptom of a gastrointestinal issue such as parasites, infection, or worms. 

Look for these other signs: 

  • Lowered egg production if female
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of drinking
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea

Illnesses Related To Chicken Burps

General stomach issues may cause burping, but the most common cause is an issue with their crop. 

Birds such as chickens don’t eat the same we do. After consuming the food, it’s stored in an organ called the crop. 

It’s kind of like a storage unit for the food until it’s ready to be digested. 

When it’s ready, food is moved into the gizzard, where it’s broken down with grit into a digestible form. 

The crop is subject to three major problems, which can cause excess burping to watch for. 

Impacted Crop

This is when too much or too large of food is consumed. It gets stuck and prevents any food from passing through the gizzard. 

This usually happens when the chicken eats something too large or too tough. Twine is a common culprit of the impacted crop. 

Remember, chickens will pretty much eat anything they can fit into their mouth, so it could be anything they find while out and about. 

The burping occurs here as the chicken attempts to regurgitate whatever’s in the crop to clear it. 

There’s not much you need to do here except watch for choking. There’s surprisingly good at clearing the blockages. 

However, if you notice they can’t breathe well or can’t clear the blockage, call your vet for advice. 

Sour Crop

I’m not going to lie. A sour crop is gross. 

Fortunately, it’s usually an easy fix with some help from a vet. 

Unfortunately, it’s pretty common with backyard chickens. 

When food gets stuck or fails to pass from the crop to the gizzard, it can stay and sort of rot inside the crop. 

This produces a horrible smell from their mouth and excess gas, causing a lot of burping. 

If you want to get into the specifics, sour crop is caused when the stuck food causes an overgrowth of the Candida albicans bacteria. 

Essentially, it’s a yeast infection. 

An aviary veterinarian will be able to help with this. 

Pendulous Crop

A pendulous crop is the most serious of these three issues. It’s an advanced case of an impacted crop where the organ is completely blocked and starts to swell. 

Usually, you’ll hear the burping start up and then suddenly stop. 

In some cases, you’ll even be able to see the swelling of the organ. 

This is a dire situation requiring immediate help, as the organs inside your bird could get seriously damaged, causing death. 

I recommend calling your vet right away, but you should also be familiar with how to burp your chicken to potentially help save its life. 

Hold your chicken’s head at a 60-degree angle to the ground. Massage the crop toward the direction of the chicken’s mouth to help dislodge anything inside it. 

If food comes out, stop and put your chicken off on its own for a couple of days to watch it and check in on it every few hours.

We’d still recommend you call your vet for further advice. 

How To Prevent Stomach Issues In Chickens

It’s impossible to prevent every possible issue with chickens that may cause burping, but there are some easy precautions to include that may help avoid the worst of it. 

  • Keep random pieces of non-food items out of the coop and pen as much as possible. 
  • Provide a steady supply of healthy food, so they don’t eat other things that may be more unhealthy. 
  • Don’t overcrowd the chicken coop and pen. 
  • Make sure you use appropriate and high-quality feed for the chickens. 
  • Check on your chickens for signs of illness at least once per day.