Egg binding is an unpleasant problem to have with your chickens, but your chickens may experience it from time to time. Egg binding occurs when a chicken is ready to lay an egg, but the egg gets stuck in the oviduct. Egg bound hens often act lethargic, refuse to eat or drink, and exhibit a general lack of wellbeing. You’ll often find an egg bound hen sitting in a hunched up position, as if she were going to lay an egg.
To keep your chickens from becoming egg bound, keep an egg log for every chicken that you raise, taking note of each time your chicken lays an egg. This will allow you to easily track your chicken’s egg-laying frequency and identify any unusually long periods of time between eggs.
If you think one of your hens is egg bound, you will need to help her pass the egg. Keeping the egg intact is safest for the chicken, but if it breaks, you’ll need to use extra care to extract any shells left in the oviduct. Depending on your sick hen and your comfort level, try one of these three treatment options for your egg bound hen:
- Water. Giving your chicken a warm water bath is the safest and easiest way to extract a bound up egg from your hen. To use the water method, fill a basin with enough water just to submerge the chicken’s vent end. The water should be warmer than your hen’s body, or about 100 degrees. Hold your chicken’s vent end in the warm water for about twenty minutes, keeping the hen’s body as still as possible. With any luck, your hen will pass her egg in one to 24 hours.
- Vaseline. The Vaseline method is slightly more adventurous than the water method and involves providing lubrication for the egg to more easily work its way out of the oviduct. Dip your first finger in Vaseline and insert it into your hen’s vent. If you can feel the egg, rub some Vaseline onto the end of the egg. Rub more Vaseline in the vent. You can gently press on the chicken’s abdomen to try to gently coax the egg out, but be careful not to break the egg.
- Diet. Feeding your chicken fiber- and calcium-rich foods can also help move an egg out. Try giving your chicken cooked oatmeal, yogurt, and even crushed Tums to encourage the egg to move.
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