How To Drain Water Belly In Chickens (Step By Step)

As a bird owner, you can usually tell when your chicken is feeling under the weather. If your bird is not being its usual active self, if it’s not pecking away at the ground, if it’s not scratching around and if it’s not interacting with the rest of the flock then you can safely assume that there is something wrong with the bird. One common sign of water belly in chickens is an inflated belly. There are many reasons why this can happen, but if your bird is accumulating fluid in its abdomen, the likely culprit is water belly. So how do you drain water belly in chickens? This article looks into it 

Draining a bird suffering from water belly is a simple process, it may be simple but it needs to be done carefully. To do this, use a sterile needle to puncture the bird’s abdomen where the fluid is and syringe 4 or 5 ounces of fluid, proceed to clean the area afterwards 

How to drain water belly in chickens

Water belly doesn’t fall into the category of ‘disease’ per se, it is a condition. This condition usually develops in fast-growing broilers. These birds grow very quickly but their heart and lungs cannot keep up with the rate of growth. Because of this rapid growth, eventually, the bird’s heart starts to fail. The liver, which also starts to malfunction, releases fluid into the bird’s abdomen causing water belly. Treatment of the bird involves draining the abdomen. When doing so, make sure everything you use is clean and sterile. 

Tools needed: 

  • Disposable gloves 
  • Sterile needle 
  • Sterile syringe

  1. Start off by using isopropyl alcohol to clean the birds abdomen on the right side towards the bird’s vent area
  2. Move onto draining the fluid, use your sterile needle and puncture the birds abdomen at a slight angle, make sure to insert the needle where you feel fluid, into the peritoneal cavity 
  3. You’d then need to draw off fluid, draw using your syringe. Drain about 4 or 5 ounces of fluid. Avoid draining too much fluid as this can cause the bird to go into shock. 
  4. Once you’ve drained enough fluid, clean the area with alcohol
  5. You can let your bird relax and calm down somewhere isolated and away from the flock. Observe your bird to see if there is a behavioral change after the draining. You may need to repeat this process because the underlying reason why the bird has water belly may not be treatable. If the underlying reason is not treatable, you may have to cull the bird to keep her from suffering for too long 

Note: The fluid that comes out of the bird, if the bird has water belly, should be a clear, pale yellow colour. If the fluid coming out of the bird is anything other than this colour then the bird is suffering from something else. Stop draining as soon as you notice this

Note: It is always recommended that you take your chicken to a vet, if you can, if you notice that there is something wrong. The vet can better assess and treat your bird for this ailment. Taking your bird to a large animal vet will generally be more fruitful, these types of vets are more open to treating chickens and these vets are also generally less expensive to visit

How do I know if my chicken has water belly?

Chickens can suffer from a variety of ailments that cause an enlarged abdomen. If you’re not sure if your bird actually has water belly here are other signs you’d need to look out for: 

  • Laboured breathing 
  • Lethargy 
  • A lack of appetite
  • Red skin along the birds abdomen 
  • A squishy feeling abdomen 
  • Missing feathers in the abdomen area 
  • Blue/purple tint to the birds comb and wattles 

Is water belly in chickens contagious?

No, water belly is not contagious. This illness is incidental, it is not caused by bacteria or viruses moving from one bird to another. That being said, if you’re raising a flock of broiler chickens which are all growing rapidly, many of the birds hearts and lungs may fail and cause them to develop water belly 


In conclusion, you can drain water belly in chickens by sterilizing the area and using a needle and syringe to drain the fluid. If the fluid coming out of the bird is a clear, pale yellow colour then the bird has water belly, if the colour is anything other than a clear, pale yellow colour then the bird is suffering from something else and you should stop draining and take the animal to a vet.

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other chicken related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Chicken foaming at the mouth, why this happens, what to do, Chicken has fluid coming out of its mouth, why this happens, Chicken spitting up clear liquid, why this happens, Chicken’s crop is full of liquid, why and what to do, Can sour crop kill a chicken?, Chicken vomiting yellow liquid, what to do

How To Drain Water Belly In Chickens (Step By Step)
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