I have a 2 year old Hyline Brown hen who I think is "egg bound". Sunday morning she was lying on the floor of the coop, lethargic. I brought her in the house (in a cardboard coop) Sunday night and she has been there since. It is now the third day. I have given her two warm soaks. She eats some (especially her favorite treats - yogurt and tofu). She is not drinking water but pecks at her Layena feed and does eat some watermelon. Her eyes are bright and alert and she coos when I come in to the bathroom converted to chicken hospital. She stands from time to time and acts like she is trying to lay. She pants, her vent is pulsating (actually it seems to be pulsating constantly) but then gets exhausted and lies down again. I did rub some olive oil around the vent. What else can I do? Is there anything else it might be? The other 5 hens I have all are fine and laying eggs. Thank you. Vicki XXXXXx
Type of Animal: Chicken (hen)
Age: 2 years
Name of Bird: Ginger
Taken her inside. Gave her two warm baths. Rubbed olive oil around her vent. Massaged her tummy. Been feeding her some scrambled egg, tofu, yogurt. She eats some of her Layena feed. Is not drinking water. I have given her watermelon. This is day 3. SEE ALSO the initial question with additional detail.
Hello Vicki, I'm Dr. Bob.I'm sorry to read of Ginger's condition. it has been a long time for her and they can become exhausted when egg-bound, hopefully we're in time.Have you tried feeling her lower abdomen to see if you can feel an egg?
Yes. I do not feel an egg - although not sure exactly what it would feel like. It seems that below the vent and down to the abdomen it is quite rounded. and perhaps swollen. She is sensitive to the touch there. Not hard like an egg but not sure if I would feel hardness.
Okay, thank you.The next step is to place a gloved and lubricated (KY Jelly or olive oil is fine) finger into her vent as far as you can reach to try to feel an egg. Let me know what you find.
Not sure if you got the last answer. Got a notice saying the session was locked. Anyway, I felt inside and did not feel anything as large as an egg. There was a hardish thing just below the vent and inside a little ways. I was maybe an inch long. I have now looked at pictures of chicken anatomy. Should I have been feeling upward - above the vent area? I tried to feel all around but most was soft.
Thank you.I asked the moderator to close teh other question to avoid confusion. We'll just work on this one. I'm not sure what you were feeling just inside the vent, possibly the pubic bone of the pelvis?Anyway. an egg is very hard to miss when stuck in the oviduct. If you put your finger as far as you could in the vent you should have felt the end of the egg. Do you know how long it's been since she last laid an egg?
Friday or Saturday I think.
Thank you. I suspect that she may be retaining eggs in her body. This is not a good thing. Egg binding occurs when an egg gets stuck, and as I mentioned earlier, exhaustion usually sets in earlier than this, so the symptoms didn't quite fit egg binding.Internal laying is not treatable. The eggs lay in their abdominal cavity, out of the oviduct which should have conducted them out of the body, and there's no way to get them out short of surgical removal. Chickens produce an egg every 25 hours in their prime, and when the eggs don't come out, they have to go somewhere. There are two different conditions that can cause this to happen, one is damage to the funnel shaped opening of the oviduct that "catches" the ovulated egg and conducts it to the oviduct and out of pushing the egg the egg away from the vent and drops it into the abdominal cavity. When this happens, the eggs may have formed shells, and this is what you can feel through the abdomen. I've even heard of people who can hear retained eggs clicking together as the hen walks or runs. If the shell hadn't yet been formed, only the egg whites and yolks will be there, and these can't be felt. Bacteria eventually find the retained egg materials and cause a condition called "yolk peritonitis" which is invariably fatal.A veterinarian can actually remove the retained eggs, and perform a salpingectomy (spay) which may save the bird's life, but from a practical standpoint this is out of the question in most cases due to cost. Aviaries sometimes do this for rare specimens, but our average chicken is not going to have access to this level of health care.I wish I had a happier answer for you Vicki, but judging from the symptoms, what I've described best fits what you're seeing.If you should have further questions, please let me know.Kind regards,Dr. Bob
Thank you. Is there any chance that she can just reabsorb the retained eggs? Is there any point in giving her an antibiotic? And finally, how long do you think she has and what kind of death will it be? Can I do something for her?
Hello again, Vicki.Where there is life, there is always hope. It's theoretically possible that she would reabsorb the retained eggs, but she's probably going to be producing and retaining more of them, so the chances aren't very good, I've never seen it happen, but it could. An antibiotic wouldn't hurt, but probably won't help, either. This can be a very long-term condition, taking as long as six months to cause death. It is not pretty, as they are all infected inside, and feel pretty poor for some time before dying. If you see she's obviously suffering, ending it would be the merciful thing to do. I can tell that you're attached to Molly, and continuing to try would be my best recommendation to you. Keep her as comfortable as you can, feed her her favorite foods, if she'll eat for you, isolate her from others to prevent bullying, and you can give her one adult aspirin in one quart of her drinking water prepared fresh three times daily, if she seems to be in any pain.If I may be of any further assistance to you, please let me know.Dr. Bob
35 years in general practice, including avian.
,We have an update: She passed an egg a couple of hours ago. I didn't see her do it but found broken shell and contents on the floor of her temporary box. I took her outside for a few minutes for some sunshine. She walked a few steps, pecked at the grass a little (no scratching) and then did the slow motion collapse she does after standing. Still looks very weak and is now huddled back in the corner of the box.Earlier this morning she ate some scrambled egg with a half of a pulverized TUMs in it (for calcium). I gave her tofu with some more TUMs a little while ago and she ate some of it. Is it OK to give TUMs??Should I be hopeful?
Hello again, Vicki!TUMs are fine, a good source of calcium. Crushed egg shells are also a good source.The egg must have been stuck very high in her oviduct. Vitamin D3 is helpful in correcting calcium depletion, and this can be furnished by mixing one teaspoon of cod liver oil with two pounds of her regular feed. There is absolutely no way for an egg that has fallen down inside the abdominal cavity to be brought up and out of the body, and this is indeed reason to hope for her. If she's been pushing this entire time, she is one strong incredible bird! Many birds are so exhausted they die when they've been egg bound more than 24 hours.Encourage her to eat to build up her strength. Warm pancakes, oatmeal, scrambled eggs and cornbread are special favorites for most chickens. Keep her out of drafts, and with any luck you'll be able to pull Ginger through this crisis. Never give up hope!If you should have further questions, please let me know.With kind regards,Dr. Bob
Another update and question. She has slowly been getting stronger. Had two walk-abouts yesterday - one alone for a few minutes and then to see her flock mates (5 of them). One of them, who Ginger used to pick on and mount immediately went on the attack to Ginger. Guess she sensed a time for revenge. Back to her box in the house. Today she seems stronger still and had a good walkabout alone for about 30 minutes before lying down to rest. Will try another re-entry later but will plan to keep her sequestered. However, she still stands up frequently with the vent pulsating (or contracting) like she wants to lay. There is no egg to be felt. She does pass some white soft matter from time to time. So, the question is: what could be going on with the vent?
Hello again, Vicki.She may have another egg forming high in her reproductive tract. Remember that her body wants to produce an egg every twenty five hours. If an egg isn't produced from the body, it's got to go somewhere, and internal retention is the only other option.She may just be sore, or, worst case, she laid the one egg, but may retain some or all future eggs. Let's hope we see another egg soon!Chickens do definitely sense weakness and seek to improve their status in the pecking order given any chance at all. Keep her isolated for a good week to ten days, if that is practical for you to let her gain as much strength as possible to avoid any more "paybacks".Best regards, Dr. Bob