What is an Egg Bound Hen?
This happens when the egg is literally stuck inside the chicken’s oviduct and she can’t get it out. This is usually due to a lack of calcium, too much protein, stress or dehydration. Young chickens as well as obese chickens are usually the victims. However, egg binding isn’t super common. It’s just good to know what to do if you find one of your hens in this situation.
If the egg is stuck, you can sometimes feel it on either side of her vent. The egg will block the chicken from being able to poop, which can lead to death if not taken care of. Typically, you have 24-48 hours to get a hen unbound. If you head out to the coop and notice her off on her own, acting lethargic, eyes closed and puffed up, you should take action. Other symptoms may include pale comb and wattles, tail slumped down, not eating or drinking, waddling, sitting on the ground and not getting up, straining her vent and drooping wings.
What Will You Need?
If you find a hen who you assume is egg bound, it is time to act quick. You will need:
A tub or large bowl of warm water
Crate (to place her in after treatment to get her strength back)
What to Do?
Pour Epsom salts into the warm water. Carefully place the hen in the warm water and allow her to sit and soak for about 20 minutes. You can carefully massage her abdomen to get her muscles to relax. Make sure to handle her with care so that the egg doesn’t break inside of her. If you suspect a broken egg, other measures such as veterinarian care may be necessary. Sometimes the warm bath will allow her to relax enough to pass the egg. If it doesn’t, take her out and place her in a towel. Gently dry her off. Your hen likely needs more calcium.
Calcium helps the hen while she’s contracting the egg out. If she’s not eating or drinking, you may need to syringe some liquid calcium carefully into her. I would also recommend Flock Fixer and Chicken E-lixir. Flock Fixer has vital vitamins and nutrients, prebiotic and probiotics, and electrolytes to help hens through times of stress. Chicken E-lixir contains calcium! I feed my chickens Chicken E-lixir every single day and haven’t had any trouble with hens being egg bound.
Next, gently massage her vent area with the oil. Keep her quiet, calm and warm. If you need to place a heating pad under her in the crate, that will help as well. Give her some time alone to work on passing her egg. Repeat this process every hour until she lays her egg.
It may take a few days for her to start feeling back to normal after being egg bound. Allow her to stay in the crate to get all the food and water she needs. She should bounce back to herself and be able to join the flock after a couple days.
Along with Chicken E-lixir, I always have crushed oyster shells available to the girls as a great source of calcium. They can eat as needed to lay healthy eggs and to prevent becoming egg bound. I also give them high quality feed, healthy treats and fresh water. Sometimes I even crush their own eggshells which is also a great source of calcium. All of this combined with a non-stress environment benefits a hen’s overall health and should help prevent egg bound hens.
Raising backyard chickens isn’t always “rainbows and butterflies”. Sometimes, it comes with hard things like a sick chicken. But knowing what to do if a situation arises is half the battle. Responding quickly is important as well. Educating yourself is a great step in keeping your flock healthy, and I’m here to help!
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady