A hen becoming egg bound is in a serious and life threatening condition. The vent of the chicken is where eggs are passed as well as droppings. As her egg passes through the oviduct to exit her vent, the intestinal tract is shut allowing the egg to pass as cleanly as possible.
An egg stopped along the oviduct may back up her digestive system and prevent her from passing droppings. Failure to pass an egg in a reasonable amount of time can cause a toxic build-up of internal waste, loss of appetite, dehydration, and can lead to death. One of the most common reasons a hen becomes egg bound is mineral deficiency. Calcium is in great demand to build egg shells, but also required for good general health and muscle strength.
Always provide some form of calcium grit or oyster shell. An egg too large or with a rough surface has trouble passing normally. Lack of exercise can weaken muscles needed to push her eggs out.
Other mineral deficiencies can cause eggs to be rough shelled and have difficulty passing completely through the oviduct and out. Most layer feeds are well balanced in all necessary nutrients.
A hen with this egg bound condition generally needs help. Sterile lubrication into the vent may help, but often a nice warm bath for 10 – 30 minutes will help relax tense muscles that have been overworking to pass the egg.
Always handle a laying hen gently. Eggs moving through her oviduct with a shell may be broken inside and cause serious damage as her body pushes them out.
A little blood on an egg shell is normal, especially for young hens just beginning to lay. Keeping a hen’s diet rich in necessary nutrients may help prevent this from happening again.
A hen that has this problem is probably more likely to suffer from this again. Sometimes it’s a sign that her healthy laying life is nearly over. You may need to think about replacing her and possibly putting her out of her misery. She may run a fever and become dehydrated and quite weak when egg bound.
Every effort should be taken daily to see that your hens have enough calcium and minerals, as well as all the nutrients that make up a good balanced layer diet, and enough room to exercise and stay active.
Just because a chicken can live in a small cage doesn’t mean it should. A good chicken environment provides a sturdy predator and weather proof shelter, nesting, roosting, food, water and an outdoor area with sunlight , fresh air, shade in summer and hopefully access to fresh grasses and vegetation.
Over-crowding can lead to more dominant flock members keeping others away from food and causing them to hide when they should be actively enjoying their life.
If you find one of your hens egg bound you may want to seek veterinary care. An experienced poultry vet can be a big help when you find a problem like this.
Finances are often a concern when taking a chicken to the vet for emergency care, but can be a worthwhile expense as you grow in experience as you keep and raise chickens.
After many years of keeping chickens I’ve never had an egg bound chicken, nor been in need of veterinary care for problems, but after years of working for veterinarians I’ve learned how to avoid or recognize and treat most common chicken and bird problems.
The most important lesson I’ve learned from owning, rescuing, and caring for animals of many species is that the best possible environment and diet, though possibly expensive to supply, saves on big emergency expenses in the future and the heart ache of sick animals.
But, that said, genetics play a huge role in the lives of animals. When we buy or adopt chickens into our lives, few of us know much, if anything about their parent’s health or genetic weaknesses.
We can bend over backwards and max out our financial limitations creating and providing the best for them and still have problems. The most complete research before-hand can still land us in the most unexpected situations. An egg bound hen is one of those situations and possibly unavoidable even in the best cared for flocks.
If you have questions that you would like to ask a vet, use the service below. Ask a Vet has qualified doctors that can answer questions about chicken health.
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