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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:24 am 
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Those of us with hens that lay eggs may one day notice that one of our birds is egg-bound. We normally don't notice it until the bird is in some discomfort. It can happen when young pullets are fed too much protein and brought onto lay too early when they haven't got enough body size on them; it can happen if the feed is too rich and the eggs get too large; it can happen if an egg is soft-shelled, and sometimes it seems to happen for no known reason.

However it starts, once a hen is having trouble passing an egg they get very upset. They may stand with their tail down. They may develop a penguin-type posture. Some hang around the nest box or even sit in there for a very long time with their vent pulsating while they strain. You might see a trickle of white urates coming from her vent.

If you think your hen is egg-bound, you should put her into a trough of warm water with a little soap in it for 20-30 minutes. Make sure the water is warm, but won't burn her, and have the water level come up to her belly. You'll have to hold her in there to make sure she doesn't duck her head under. Sometimes if you warm up an egg-bound hen it can relax them a bit a enocurage a big push. When you have her in there you will be able to have a gentle feel over her belly. If there is a shell-less egg you probably won't feel it, but you might if it's a shelled egg. Her response to being warmed up might be to have a few very big contractions after a while. If that happens you will know you're on the right track. It would be great if she dropped the egg, but she may not. When she's been in about 20 mins, life her out, dry her off and put her in a dry box with a warm hot water bottle. Sometimes a second bath in a couple of hours can be necessary. Keep her inside your laundry or somewhere warm if she's damp. By keeping her warm and cosy you are trying to encourage her to lay an egg.

Warmth seems to be the best help for the problem. (I have also had a vet recommend a steamy bathroom for an eggbound chicken for similar reasons.) If you do manage to get a chicken to pass a stuck egg, don't be surprised if there is another one fairly close. Sometimes another one can get backed up.

If an egg-bound hen does not pass the egg, the condition can become life threatening with a few days. If eggs are broken inside the bird there is a risk of life threatening infection in the abdomen.

If you find that your bird is repeatedly getting eggbound or laying soft-shelled eggs, you may wish to force a moult to give her reproductive system a chance to heal itself to whatever degree it can. Soft shelled eggs can happen at the end of a laying cycle and their system gets tired and their calcium reserves are depleted.

I had a situation where one of my barnevelder pullets who was just coming into lay bacame egg bound. I just noticed her doing the penguin squat. I sat her in a tub of warm water. Here's the messy vent, slightly protruding.

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I could feel her straining from time to time and I could feel the mass just behind her hip bones. I hoped that it wasn't broken. When I move the skin aside I can see a creamy, yellow mass, not evenly coloured like a whole egg. It's also rough to the touch, like fractured egg shell that is still in position. Even now and then she strained, but then she jerks like she's experiencing pain. I became quite concerned.

I put her in a darkened box and waited but nothing happened.

When her hot water bottled cooled down, I put her back in the bath. The egg was whole, but was coated with a kind of waxy, rotten build up that is probably causing friction. This is what it looked like.

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Eventually it came away with a lot of help. I got one of those plastic bits in a pedicure set for pushing down cuticles. I figured that wouldn't cut her skin. I slid the egg part way back, then slide the cuticle stick carefully down the side to scrape off the sticky muck all around the egg. Then I used the plastic tool to sort of lift the egg toward the vent. She got the idea and pushed like her life depended on it (smart chook!). There was an audible cracking sound. We thought we'd broken it, but we hadn't. There was a strong waxy attachment at the back of the egg holding it in. As the egg had spiralled down the oviduct it had built up and created strong attachment.

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The waxy type of material reminds me a bit of those weird droppings that people have reported getting when their birds have cancers. I believe it was a by-product of an internal infection. Most egg-bound chickens pass a normal egg without this material on it. This was unusal. This chicken lived another few months after this, but eventually I found her dead in the pen. I think she must have had peritonitis.

Note: Dannyb has suggested the practice suggested above isn't ideal, but I will leave it here just in case. It's worked more than once for me. ;-) However, veterinary advice is always the best.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:26 am 
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Some information from Sandy at Fowlfacts:

Egg bound hens

A hen is said to be egg bound when she fails to lay her egg
This is a common condition, and may result from inflammation of the oviduct, malformed or double yolker egg, or a too large egg in a young pullet

The bird seems very restless
She will drink little and eat little
She will tend to stand all hunched up
She visits the nest regularly in an attempt to lay her egg
Hew oviduct may end up protrude due to excessive pushing by her to eject the egg; internal haemorrhage or exhaustion may occur and the fowl may die
She may smell badly
Her vent will look quite red and protrude
She may have faecal matter that has built up behind the egg, if you see white liquid that will be her urates trying to pass (urine in chickens)


Sit her in a tub of warm soapy water
Make sure the vent is submerged for about 30 minutes, this may seem like a long time, but you have to relax the vent area and make is subtle for the egg to pass through, it really does help the hen, 85% of the time this will be all that you will need to do for her and the egg will pass out with a little push from her
You can rub some lubricant around the vent area if you think that may help too, KY jelly, petroleum jelly, Vaseline or Olive Oil all work fine.
Make sure you isolate her from the other hens, or they will peck at her vent causing more damage

Put her into an isolation cage, put plenty of news paper down first and then put heated towels down they will act like a heat pad for her, no drafts when she is wet or she will catch a chill
You can heat up towels in your microwave, works a treat
If you have a heat pad that would be even better, put plenty of towels over it or it will get messy
Leave her for a little while to see if she passes the egg, if not, repeat the warm water and soap again

Some people just use the heating pads, this sometimes seems to relax the muscles and allow the egg to slip out

If this doesn’t work, you may have to resort to removing the egg manually, not a nice task, and she will complain about what you are doing bitterly, you will need two people to do this task

Using KY jelly, Petroleum jelly or Vaseline, insert your finger in the vent
With your other hand you can press gently on her abdomen moving the egg down the oviduct towards the cloaca
Once you can see the egg, if it won’t pass, then rupture the egg and gently remove all the shell
Some have suggested you use a sharp instrument, I would not recommend this at all it could result in causing the hen internal injuries
The shell of the egg will be very sharp when broken and could also damage the chicken internally
Once you have broken the shell, make sure you remove every particle carefully
The cloaca should then be washed with a weak warm water/salt solution, this is to make sure all the egg contents and shell has been removed from inside the hen, if it isn’t it could cause bacteria to start growing inside her, and then you’ve got an even bigger problem to solve

Once the egg has ejected you will want to keep an eye on her for a while
There may be another egg backed up in her oviduct system, especially if she lays an egg every day or every other day

Sometimes they absorb the egg, but this is very unlikely and very unusual
If you can’t find the egg and it has gone from the hen, more than likely she has eaten it shell and all

If it has ruptured inside her, you should look for small pieces of shell, or evidence of any cuts around the vent area
Just remember while your looking and sticking your finger in places she would prefer you didn’t, the egg shells can be quite sharp and may cut you and her
If you do find any cuts around her cloaca, rinse with hydrogen peroxide
Watch her for listlessness, dull eyes, and signs of fever
Infection can come on pretty quick

Keep a close eye on her, this could happen again to her and she will need immediate action to fix the problem

How to help prevent the hen from laying any more eggs
If there is any small prolapse gently push it back into the chicken with your fingers.
The chicken should then be put on a maintenance diet of wheat and water and put in a dark cage.
Leave the hen there for a week.

However, it is important to restrict the chickens diet to maintenance only for possibly a couple of months. This does work!! Alternative to maintenance diet is feeding the chicken enough to keep it alive, moving and keeping warm plus enough extra feed for it to produce eggs.

You may find that by reducing the feed it brings on a forced molt

By reducing feed intake so that the bird has just enough feed to keep it alive, moving and keeping warm you are feeding for maintenance only. The chicken will not lay eggs and so give it the best chance of recovery.

http://fowlfacts.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=afflictiondiseaseff&action=display&thread=1192

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:42 am 
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I wonder what has happened to the Old Timer's or Old Style of treatment, so In case I had missed something in the intervening years, I googled "Egg Bound Hen" +"Castor Oil". I think the administration of a small quantity at both ends is a lot less invasive than some of the procedures described and which the average BYP keeper may be unwilling to carry out.
After viewing the very informative procedure, I may never eat another egg.


Last edited by beemakb on Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:10 am 
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I think if you had access to a shot of calcium and could then leave her in a dark and quiet place, that would be comparatively uninvasive.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:25 pm 
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Chicken07 wrote:
Note: Dannyb has suggested the practice suggested above isn't ideal, but I will leave it here just in case. It's worked more than once for me. ;-) However, veterinary advice is always the best.


Cathy which part of the advice? The bath or the cuticle stick manoeuvre?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:14 pm 
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I think Danny B does not advise to break the egg.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:58 pm 
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Thanks Sue55


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