Soft-shelled egg removal

Today’s emergency call was a hen with white, watery liquid in her fluff and some odd stuff happening in and around the vent.

The owner did a fabulous job of documenting the case in his initial email query to me: the other birds, symptoms, behavior changes, description of eggs. He even included pictures! My best guess without seeing her was  uterine prolapse.

I asked the owner to isolate her from the flock to prevent spread of contagions and also keep the other hens from picking at any odd things at her back end (yes, chickens do this!).

The owner did exactly as instructed, and I found the hen resting comfortably in a wire cage under the porch. Her crop was full, which I was pleased to find!

Getting down to business involved gently removing the white urates on her vent and fluff. When they were cleared away, I found a tiny piece of eggshell and part of an egg membrane protruding from the cloaca. This was the major key to the solution. The hen had a soft-shelled egg broken inside of her.

Cleaning the vent

I gently cleaned Maisie's vent with soap and water.

She fretted a bit when I gently pulled on the membrane, but it stimulated her to bear down, and the piece of shell membrane came out. I was hoping it would bring the rest of the egg with it, but no such luck.

I was about to attempt a warm water bath when I discovered that I could stimulate her to bear down, and she passed the rest of the egg! Besides, the hen did not really want to sit in a pan of warm water and kept perching on the side of the tub!

soft-shelled egg

This is what was giving Maisie such a hard time!

I cleaned her up a bit more, swabbed the area with alcohol, and by now the uterine tissues had receded inside the cloaca. We put some warm honey (anti-biotic/anti-inflammatory) mixed with KY Jelly in and on her vent.

Home care suggestions include oyster shell, liquid calcium in the bird’s water, honey treatment for a few days or if red tissues appear again, and observation and isolation until better. I also told the owners to keep an eye on egg production, watch the poop for both light and dark waste, and look for the birdie  “I’m not feeling well!” symptoms:

  • eyes partly closed
  • fluffed
  • not eating (empty crop)
  • lack of vocalization.

Egg issues can be a little dicey, but here’s to a full and complete recovery for Maisie the chicken!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Louise on April 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I’m impressed with your knowledge of chicken ailments and how to treat them. Great job with Maisie the chicken!


  2. Posted by Mike on April 7, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Maisie is one of our four backyard hens, and seems to be doing well now — eating, drinking, and clucking away! We’re still waiting on an egg from her, but so far, so good.

    Jen did a wonderful job helping us — she replied very promptly with some quick advice to get us started, and made arrangements to come out within 24 hours. Jen is very knowledgeable, and communicated some of that knowledge very effectively without making us feel entirely ignorant on the subject. She jumped right in and got down to business with Maisie, and encouraged us to participate in the work, too.

    Of course, we don’t wish trouble or harm on any of our chickens, but I’m certain we’re all better off having had this experience.

    Thanks, Jen!


  3. Posted by Lupita on April 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Great job, Jen! My hen Greta had the same problem when she couldn’t pass an egg. My husband gently pulled out the egg, but I didn’t know all these other treatment tips. I’m happy to report that Greta still lays huge double-yolkers!


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