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Liver and Kidney Problems

Chickens can develop problems with their liver and / or kidneys. The three most common conditions being Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome (FLHS), Fatty Liver and Kidney Syndrome (FLKS) and Enlarged Liver.

Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome (FLHS)

This disease can affect flock members of any age. Over time fat is deposited in the liver and causes the liver to lose its structural strength and become enlarged. Once this occurs, the chicken can haemorrhage from the liver and may die. This usually occurs when the hen is straining to lay an egg.

Fatty Liver and Kidney Syndrome (FLKS)

FLKS mostly affects younger birds; it can be caused by nutritional and metabolic issues; primarily a lack of biotin.


Signs and symptoms of both Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome and Fatty Liver and Kidney Syndrome:

  • Overweight.
  • Pale comb.
  • Slow or non-existent egg laying.
  • Fluffed-up appearance.
  • Lethargic.
  • Lack of movement, sitting in one place.
  • Excess of abdominal fat.

Enlarged Liver symptoms

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Dehydration.
  • Weakness.
  • Comb and face may have a yellow (jaundiced) appearance.
  • Reduced egg production.
  • Lethargy.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Fluffed-up appearance.


Some causes of Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome include:

  • High calorific intake.
  • Hormonal factors.
  • Nutritional factors.
  • Toxicological causes (poisons or contaminated feeds).
  • Excessive fatty foods (sunflower seeds, suet).
  • Lack of exercise/sedentary lifestyle.
  • Lack of biotin and Choline Chloride in the food, both necessary for fat metabolism (present in quality poultry feeds).
  • Hereditary factors.

Some causes of Enlarged Liver include:

  • Leukosis caused by avian retroviruses (Marek’s disease).
  • Toxins (feed, environment, etc.).
  • Sarcoma (liver tumour).


Note that this home remedy is not intended to offer a cure or replace veterinary treatment, but may alleviate symptoms where no professional support is easily available. The suggestions are based on experience gained with our own hens.

Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome and Fatty Liver and Kidney Syndrome:

  • It is important to feed a well-balanced diet in appropriate quantities to prevent these problems.
  • Chickens should have plenty of space to roam around, the more exercise they enjoy the better.
  • Avoid giving the hens too many treats.

Enlarged Liver:

  • Consult your vet (treatment options are limited and the outcome is normally poor).
  • Home remedy which may alleviate symptoms (please note this is not a cure): ‘Nature’s Answer’ Milk Thistle drops ( ½ dropper once daily). This product is widely available online.


To prevent Fatty Liver and Kidney Syndrome, it is important that chickens are given feeds that contains biotin. Biotin is also known as vitamin B7 and is contained in most commercial and retailed chicken feeds. Some sources of naturally occurring biotin include those listed below, but these foods must not pass through your kitchen, unless you live in a vegan household:

  • Broccoli.
  • Cabbage.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Spinach.
  • Strawberries.
  • Raspberries.
  • Oats.
  • Soybeans.
  • Peanuts.