3 Things That Never Should Happen To A Chicken……

…….and what to do about them.

All 3 of these conditions are medical emergencies that should be handled by a vet but if you are not able to get to one this info may help.

If your chicken is in obvious pain the best thing, although never easy, may be to cull her.  Only you can decide how to handle your particular situation.

1.) An egg bound hen:


This is a rare condition but left untreated can cause death in 24 to 48 hours.

An egg bound chicken literally has an egg ‘stuck’ inside her.  This can happen in very old or obese hens, very young hens that have just started laying, and hens lacking calcium in the diet (calcium helps muscles contract and she needs to contract muscles to push out an egg).

You can tell a hen is egg bound if she sits around with fluffed up feathers and seems to be straining.  Her tail may ‘pump’ up and down.  If she walks, her walk will resemble a penguin. Her droppings may be loose or absent. You may be able to feel the egg in her abdomen.

The first thing to do is to give the hen some liquid calcium.  Crush up a human calcium tablet and mix in water.  Give to your hen in a dropper.

Then take a wash tub or fill the sink with warm water and 1/4 cup of Epson salts if you have them and soak her bottom for about 10-15 minutes.


 Moist heat helps the area to relax which aids in passing the egg.   After her soak wrap her in a dry towel and put her in a box in a quiet, dim place and wait for her to lay the egg.

If she does not pass the egg  you can lubricate her vent area with KY jelly, Vaseline or baby oil and GENTLY try to massage the egg down her abdomen and out.


As a last resort you can try to puncture the egg with a large needle attached to a syringe, aspirate the contents and gently crush the egg and remove  the shell – hopefully still attached to the membrane so it all comes out.  You will need a helper for this.

 2.) Prolapsed vent: 

This is when the lower portion of a hen’s reproductive tract protrudes from the vent.  It happens in very young chickens who may have layed an egg too large to handle, or in old, obese hens, or hens not getting proper nutrition and/or exercise resulting in poor muscle tone.

 You can tell a chicken has this if she is lethargic and ‘fluffed up’  plus you will see the prolapse protruding from her vent.


 Clean her well in a warm bath and then apply some Vetericyn, and some Preparation H (without pain relievers).  Then manually insert the prolapse back inside her.  Keeping her off feed, and in a dark room for a few days to keep her from laying may be helpful. (be sure to give water with a vitamin supplement).  Once a hen has suffered a prolapse she is likely to have it recur so watch her closely.  The biggest danger is from the other members of the flock pecking at it.

3.) Sour or impacted crop: 

The ‘crop’ is part of the chicken’s esophagus where food sits before empting into the stomach.  It looks larger after a chicken has eaten, but in these conditions it will be apple sized.


Both of these conditions can occur when your chickens eat long strands of grass or other hard to digest foods or foreign bodies such as string.

The first thing to do is to wait awhile, perhaps overnight and see if the condition goes away by itself.  If not, withhold water for 12 hours and food for 24 hours.  Massaging the crop with the chicken in a head down position may help her ‘vomit’ the mass out.  If the contents smell bad or ‘sour’ it means the contents have ‘fermented’ and may be growing yeast.  Stop all ACV supplementation if you use it, and feed the chicken yogurt for a few days.  In severe cases the digestive system needs to be ‘washed’ out or surgery performed but these are not home treatments.

Good luck to you, I hope you never have to deal with these issues but if you do I hope this info is helpful.

My next blog will be on keeping chickens healthy and what to keep in your coop’s medicine cabinet.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Faust
    Jan 12, 2015 @ 17:17:39

    ANOTHER 5 STAR RATING for both explaining what a hen with each of the 3 dangerous ( if untreated ) health issues would look like on the outside; then explaining what it’s called and how they might have gotten it, and what to do OR NOT DO, in the case of withholding water and food. All types of life forms should come with a “HOW TO HANDLE MEDICAL EMERGENCIES//HOW TO CARE FOR THE LIFE FORM PROPERLY TO AVOID MEDICAL EMERGENCIES and HOW TO LOVE AND APPRECIATE ALL LIVING THINGS!” I volunteer the very capable author of ruthschickens to get the above hand books written and we fans promise to sell 20 billion copies for her.



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