Egg Binding in Chickens: Is My Hen Egg Bound?
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.
More Info on Egg-Bound Chickens
- Egg bound Treatment Works The Chicken Keeper
- edge effect blog: False alarm!
- How to Treat Egg Binding in Chickens - For Dummies
When raising chickens, you hope to never encounter egg binding in your flock. Luckily, the causes of egg binding (genetics, poor feed, heavy worm infestations) are
- Backyard Chickens: Eggbound White Pekin question
More by this Author
This is a question that I see crop up often online. There are risks to having chickens which are either too fat or too thin. An underweight chicken could be sick, and is definitely in danger of having an overly...
A “sex link” chicken breed is one where you can tell the difference between male and female chicks when they are hatched. The female and male chicks will be different colors, which means that you are...
A guideline to how often blankets, sheets, and pillows should be washed in the laundry.