It’s not uncommon for young hens to be irregular laying eggs. Some start and end strong. Other hens start with small eggs that gradually get larger. But some chickens have a hard time passing eggs. Your hens might start waddling and providing fewer and fewer eggs. These are the signs of an egg bound chicken. Let’s talk about your egg bound chicken: what you need to know.
What does an egg bound chicken look like? Egg bound hens have very distinct characteristics. A few signs are:
- Waddling like a penguin
- Frequent sitting in all areas of the coop and run
- No appetite and reduced drinking
- Lethargy from not eating
- Noticeable pushing and tensing of the abdomen
- And shaky wings
Chicken Constipation Or Egg Bound
You might notice that some of these symptoms line up with constipation. So how can you tell if your chicken is egg bound or constipated? There is a simple test to determine which issue you are dealing with.
If your hen is egg bound, you will feel the eggs in the oviduct. If you suspect that you have an egg bound chicken, massage the stomach around the vent. You will feel a lump there that proves that egg binding is the issue. You might even feel the egg low in the oviduct if you insert a finger in the vent. If you don’t feel the egg, your chicken is likely constipated.
Can an egg bound chicken poop? Some chickens will experience some constipation as a result of the egg pressing into the intestines. You might even see liquidy feces in the run as a symptom of egg binding. Each chicken is different, and it depends on how large the egg is. Larger eggs than average will cause some constipation. It’s also important to keep in mind that if your hen isn’t eating, it won’t poop.
Causes Of An Egg Bound Chicken
Next on Egg Bound Chicken: What You Need To Know is causes. Here are a few of the reasons your hens might be egg bound.
- Nutritional deficiency- If you notice that more than one hen in your flock is frequently getting egg bound, nutrition might be the cause. Most commonly, your hens have a calcium deficiency from improper diets or not enough supplements.
- Too Large Of Eggs- Another common problem in small hens is too large of eggs. Some smaller breeds can be more prone to egg binding. Other times your hen might be laying double-yolked eggs. These are the most common in young eggers and senior hens.
- Premature Layer- If your hen starts laying eggs before expected, they are more prone to becoming egg bound.
- Obesity- For hens that weigh a little more than they should, egg binding could be an issue. This is also true for larger breeds of chickens.
- Oviduct Infection- While an infection is not as common, it is possible. Some hens become egg bound when their oviduct gets infected. Infections here are severe and should receive treatment by a vet immediately.
- Nesting Areas- And finally, our last cause is unclean or not enough nesting boxes. If your nesting boxes are dirty, your hens will refrain from laying. Or if there aren’t enough nesting boxes, your hens will hold their eggs. These are both recipes for an egg bound chicken.
Treating An Egg Bound Chicken
When you suspect an egg bound hen, you should treat immediately to prevent infection. Egg bound chicken death is not uncommon if not remedied. So how do you treat an egg bound chicken? Here are a few things to try.
The first thing you should do is evaluate your hen’s feed. If you notice egg binding happening to all the hens in your flock, diet is the problem. Your hen’s feed should have at least 4 grams of calcium daily. They should also have crushed oyster shells available as a supplement. Your hens will know when they need more calcium and munch on these shells.
For chickens that are currently egg bound, they will need extra calcium. Calcium is used for more than just bones and eggshells. Calcium is also required for chickens to contract their muscles. So giving extra calcium will help your hens push the eggs out.
An egg bound chicken calcium dose is up to 100 mg. You can give this in the form of crushed tums or a liquid. Many owners prefer Vita-Sol Infant Drops over tums because it is easier to dose. One drop of Vita-Sol has enough calcium and vitamin D3 for your hens to pass the eggs. You will need to give this until your hen has passed the egg safely.
Epsom Salt Bath
After you give calcium to your hen, they will need a bath next. A nice lukewarm bath with unscented Epsom Salt will help relax your hen. With their muscles relaxed, it will help your hen pass the egg themselves.
Giving a 20-minute bath to your hen might not be easy, though. Baths work best when you have a bucket large enough, a stool, and time. Sitting down and holding your hen in the tub is the best way to do this. If you don’t hold them, they will try to escape. And don’t forget to dry them off after.
Another great technique is massaging your hen’s stomach. Starting from the top of their abdomen, massage in small downward circles moving counterclockwise. These massages help relax the muscles while coaxing the egg down the duct. This method doesn’t usually work on its own. But it helps in conjunction with the other treatments already mentioned.
Our last home treatment option is to extract it yourself. Extraction is a delicate process, and for confident owners. To remove the egg, all you need is water-based KY jelly. With clean hands, put the lubricant around the vent of your chicken.
In most cases, the lubricant, along with gentle massages, is enough to help the egg out. If this method doesn’t work, you might have to retrieve the egg yourself.
Retrieving the egg by hand is a delicate process. You can’t break the egg, or you risk the shells cutting and infecting your hen. With gentle pressure, pull the egg closer to the opening of the vent. Once you have made some progress loosening the egg, your hen can do the rest to push it out.
If you cannot cure your egg bound chicken within 24 hours, it is best to seek medical help. Most vets will give your hen a shot of calcium gluconate that helps pass the egg quickly. It is essential to do this as soon as possible, as most hens don’t survive over 48 hours of egg binding.
Preventing Egg Binding
First and foremost, feeding your hens a proper diet will prevent egg-bound chickens. For each stage of your hen’s life, they should be on a feed appropriate for it. This is especially true for chickens just beginning to lay. It is also essential to keep fresh oyster shells and other sources of calcium available at all times.
Most chickens know by instinct when they need more calcium than usual. Chickens will pick at the extra calcium when they feel their body needs it. You might not notice them eating it all the time. But since they can’t tell you when it’s needed, it’s best always to provide it.
Along with an appropriate diet, fewer treats also prevent egg binding. Too many treats will fill up your chickens with nutrient-deficient food. With too many treats, your hens will eat less of the food that completes their diets. It can also cause obesity in hens, which can cause egg binding. Ideally, you want treats to consume no more than 10% of your hen’s diet.
Another preventative measure is to have more nesting boxes. One nesting box per 3-5 hens is usually sufficient. But if your hens are laying more eggs than usual, you might want to add a few more.
You should also make sure that the nests are clean at all times. Hens don’t like laying their precious eggs in crowded, dirty nests. Cleaning your nesting boxes often will help give your hens a nice, quiet, safe place.
Additionally, doing daily checks on your hens can prevent many illnesses. Checking the health of all chickens will give you a better idea when something starts to turn sour. Daily inspections should include eating, drinking, laying, overall body check, and abdomen checks.
And the last point of Egg Bound Chicken: What You Need To Know, reducing artificial light. It is a common practice to use artificial lights to encourage year-round egg-laying. But this could cause more problems by forcing your hens to lay more often than their bodies can take. Reducing the light in winter can prevent some of these issues.
Egg Binding Summary
A waddling chicken is never a good sign. Acting fast and checking your husbandry often can help prevent an egg bound chicken. And while this can be a scary time, it is also easy to fix. We hope you liked this article on the egg bound chicken: what you need to know.
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