White Leghorn with bloody vent

by Amanda A.
(Jonesborough Tn )

I had 6, now 5, 7 month old white leghorn hens, I've noticed over the past few weeks that she had fewer feathers around her vent and seems like a couple others have the same problem. I've tried putting apple cider vinegar in their water, but didn't help. Last night, I noticed one of my girls was laying down in a nesting box away from all the others and her backside was bloody. Her comb was pale and floppy. tried doing some research on the internet to find out what to do. I went to check on her this morning and she had passed away sometime during the night. I'm suspecting vent pecking but not sure. I checked and it seemed she had some marks on and around her vent. Any ideas on what happened or what to do to keep this from happening again?

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by: sharon

So sorry to read this, Amanda.

I'm not sure what to tell you. Can't come up with any one specific answer for you. The pale floppy comb could be a sign of internal bleeding or low blood pressure from illness.

Had she been laying eggs?

A bloody vent can be from an internal injury, possibly being egg bound, or some form of diarrhea.

Some diseases can cause rough shelled eggs that can irritate delicate tissue as they pass: infectious bronchitis, infectious laryngotracheitis or avian encephalomyelitis. (Vaccinations against disease are recommended.)

Stress can cause an egg to be held longer than normal and can result in unusual rough and extra calcium deposits in the shell. Dehydration can lead to a lack of lubricants needed to pass an egg easily. Sudden changes in artificial lighting can disrupt a hen's laying cycle and cause problems.

Intestinal irritations from bacteria or parasites can cause bloody stools, but you will see the blood mixed with feces usually.

Internal injuries are most common from predator attacks, but there will usually be other external injuries that are obvious.

Hens can get egg bound if they don't have enough calcium in their diet, have flaws in their reproductive organs, or don't get enough exercise to keep muscles strong, or if an egg is too large or rough to be laid easily. Excessive or unproductive contractions during laying, or rough textured eggs can cause bleeding.

It's so hard to know the exact cause of your hen's bleeding since eggs and feces pass through the vent. Leghorns often lay a large or extra large egg. There can be internal deformities in chickens just as easily as external ones.

If you have seen no signs of predators, there is probably nothing much you can do. Handling laying hens should always be done gently - and only if necessary, since they often have eggs forming inside. If a hen gets rough handling from a human or other animal an egg shell can break inside her and cause bleeding as she tries to push it out. A rooster much larger than a hen can possibly cause an egg to break internally if he mounts her, but that is rare.

It's likely that this is an isolated case and your other girls will be fine. If you see similar signs in any others, you should definitely be more concerned. I wish I had a clear answer for you.

If this were going on with any of my hens I would have to do my best detective work in their environment and look for something out of the ordinary that might help me understand what is going on. Sometimes there are few clues.

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