Egg Binding in Chickens: Is My Hen Egg Bound?

Photo credit: Flickr/pshab
Photo credit: Flickr/pshab

What is “Egg-Bound”?

Egg binding is a serious veterinary condition in chickens. It happens when an egg gets stuck inside the hen’s reproductive tract. It is not uncommon for a chicken to get egg-bound, but it can be very serious if not treated right away.

Egg binding usually happens to hens which are young and just starting to lay, or to older hens near the end of their laying years. It can also happen because of a calcium deficiency, if the chicken is too fat, or if there are other nutritional problems.

How Can I Tell If My Chicken Is Egg-Bound?

A chicken which is egg-bound will often do the “penguin stance.”  This is where the chicken stands with her back vertical, and her tail pointed straight down, like a penguin.  If you pick her up and examine her belly gently, you may feel the hard egg inside her.

If you catch it early enough, she may simply sit ruffled and looking uncomfortable, and straining at her egg.  The sooner you notice this problem, the better news it is for your hen!

What To Do For An Egg-Bound Chicken

Egg binding is very serious, and can often be fatal.  It is not only painful for the chicken, but it can result in a prolapsed – which is also painful, and can become a chronic issue.

If your chicken is an important family pet, then your best option is to rush her to a vet which treats chickens and other birds.  If you have a more pragmatic view of your flock, an egg-bound chicken is an excellent candidate for humane slaughter and the stew pot.

In between those two points on the spectrum, you may want to try home care.  Putting the chicken in a warm dark place can help her relax, and help her recover from shock.  This alone may be enough to allow her to pass the egg. 

Similarly, a warm bath and a massage can also do the trick.  Fill a big plastic tote box or a utility sink with warm water – the same temperature you would use to bathe a baby.  Not too hot, but definitely warm.  Lower the chicken gently into the water, keeping a hand on her back to help restrain her.  Massage the chicken’s stomach from the outside, using a downward motion to help the egg move towards the vent.

You can also gently warm a small bowl of vegetable oil, and gently massage the oil into the chicken’s vent and up into the cloaca.  The oil can help the egg slip out of the chicken’s cloaca.

If the egg breaks, the most likely result will be infection, shock, and death.  Do not attempt to break the egg yourself, unless it is the measure of absolute last resort.  If the egg breaks inside on its own, you may be able to carefully remove the shards. Although this is a job which is better left to a trained veterinarian.

The good news is that once the egg has passed, the chicken will quickly be right back to normal. 

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Comments 9 comments

Jasmine 6 years ago

Thanks for that; You saved our chickens life! :)

Blogging Erika profile image

Blogging Erika 6 years ago Author

Thanks, Jasmine! I'm so glad your hen made it through!

Brett Hodges 5 years ago

Thanks. Really interesting and funny how easy it is to empathize with the poor hen! It's not too hard to imagine the agony. I like your presentation of the treatment options, including the practical but perhaps emotionally challenging "candidate for the stew pot".

mooboomoo profile image

mooboomoo 5 years ago from London

Very informative thank you, I would have no clue what to do!

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California

I am actually very new to raising hens for eggs. My chicks are just under a year and have been laying for couple of months now. So far production is super good and I always give only the best feed, vegetables, fruit and clean water. They are like my nervous little friends. I appreciate your hub very much as I was totally unaware of this egg binding condition, and will be on the look out for it daily. Great work here! Up and awesome.


GrantGMcgowan profile image

GrantGMcgowan 5 years ago

Good article,

wbgchickenman profile image

wbgchickenman 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

I was not even aware of this situation that chickens actually have to face. Thanks!

Natasha 5 years ago

Thanks for the explanaion of why my favorite chicken died.... :(

Kyana 5 years ago

Thanks for all the info,you realy helped me with my science project.

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