A chicken is egg bound when she is unable to pass an egg. The egg becomes stuck in the oviduct, causing the egg bound chicken considerable discomfort. Egg binding in chickens is a life-threatening condition. It is essential to identify an egg bound chicken quickly and take the appropriate steps to help her pass the egg.
Causes of Egg Binding in Hens
Egg binding can occur in even the healthiest of hens, but there are a few factors that make it more likely. Some possible causes of egg binding include:
Egg Retention Due to Insufficient Nesting Areas
Egg Too Large for Oviduct
Immature Layer (a hen that begins laying before her body is ready – this is one of the dangers of rushing laying with artificial lights)
Symptoms of Egg Binding
An egg bound chicken will be in a great deal of discomfort. Look for these egg bound chicken symptoms:
Repeated Entry into the Nest Box
Squawks in Distress on Nest
Loss of Appetite
Appears Lethargic or Droopy
Waddling, or Walking like a Penguin
Droopy or Pale Comb and Wattle
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Treatment for Egg Bound Chickens
An egg bound chicken is in serious danger. Ideally, the hen should be treated by a capable poultry veterinarian. However, this is often not possible. If you must treat an egg bound chicken yourself, follow the following steps:
Give her Calcium – This is the single most important thing you can do for an egg bound hen. Calcium can be given in the form of an injection, an oral supplement or even an electrolyte solution.
Rehydrate the Hen – If she is too weak or uninterested in drinking, try to get a little electrolyte solution in her with an eye dropper or syringe.
Wait – The calcium may be enough to allow her to pass the egg on her own. Give her half an hour before moving on to the next step.
Warm Water Bath – Place the hen in a tub of warm water for 20 minutes. This will relax her and hydrate her vent, making it easier for the egg to pass.
Dry and Lubricate – Dry the hen gently with a towel, carefully massaging the area around the egg. Be cautious: you do not want to break the egg shell. Apply KY jelly around her vent.
Place her in a Dark Nest – Place the hen in a dark, quiet place with a nest box. She will be able to relax and focus on laying. Give her time to try to pass the egg.
Massage – If an egg bound hen is still unable to pass the egg, gently massage her abdomen. You should be able to feel the egg. Try to gently encourage the egg to move along the oviduct toward her vent.
Repeat – If the hen is still bright eyed and alert but has not passed the egg, repeat steps 4-7. If she has become pale or listless, she is trouble and you will need to remove the egg manually.
Saving a Truly Egg Bound Chicken
This technique is an absolute last resort. It involves carefully and methodically breaking the egg. The shards of the shell can cut the delicate tissues of the hen’s oviduct or uterus, resulting in infection, hemorrhage and even death. Do not break the egg of an egg bound hen except as a last resort.
Only use this technique if you can see the tip of the egg at the vent. Using a large gauge (18) needle with a syringe, gently puncture the tip of the egg. Draw out all the contents of the egg into a syringe. Gently collapse the shell inwards. With ample lubrication, carefully remove as much of the shell as possible. The rest of the egg should pass in the next few days.