Okay, so a little background info to get started… I am brand new to raising chickens. I have 6 Rhode Island Reds that I purchased from a feed store in April. They started laying right at 18 weeks. They spend most of their time in a large run and I let them free range outside the run whenever possible. Their diet mainly consists of organic layer pellets and the occasional treat - usually a handful of meal worms a couple times a week. I have never de-wormed them. Everything was going very well until this week when I noticed that one of the girls was acting lethargic. She was laying on the ground by herself in a corner and did not run towards me with the others when I came out to visit them. She was bright and alert but didn't seem to want to get up from the ground and was making weird sounds - kind of raspy and high pitched, like it was hard for her to vocalize.
I decided to keep an eye on her. That night she went onto the roost with the others. When I let them out the next morning she seemed totally fine… I watched her poop and it was completely normal with no blood or worms. I do not think she laid an egg but it's hard to tell between the 6 of them who laid and who didn't. After a couple hours she was back to her position of laying on the ground. I had to go to work but came back 2-3 hours later to check on her and found that the others had started bullying her and her comb was bleeding pretty badly. I immediately separated her from the group and proceeded to give her an epsom salt bath and cleaned up the wound on her comb.
My first guess was that she could be egg bound because her symptoms matched, but the epsom salt bath didn't seem to do much for her. I then dried her and gave her some meal worms coated with coconut oil which she gobbled right up. I put some probiotics and electrolytes in her water and let her stay inside in a crate. She ate a little bit, but the next day she stopped eating and drinking entirely and was very lethargic. By now I had read through a bunch of forums and done a ton of research and had started to become pretty certain that egg yolk peritonitis was the cause… We had been getting frequent double yolked eggs since our chickens started laying (apparently a sign of egg yolk peritonitis) and recently I had discovered a shell-less egg in the nesting box…there was not even a membrane - it was literally as though someone had cracked an egg open in the nesting box!! At the time I just assumed that an egg had cracked but I guess looking back, it was odd that there wasn't any shell to be found. So at this point I pretty much settled on the fact that my hen had egg yolk peritonitis.
For the next couple of days I continued to keep her inside in the crate... she didn't poop once and did not lay any eggs and I completely convinced myself that she was going to die soon. Then, today I noticed she had eaten a large amount of food, drank all of her water, pooped a few times, and laid a nicely shelled egg! I decided to try putting her back outside with the others since she seemed so unhappy inside. All day she has been running around like normal and I have not had any trouble with the others bullying her. I am honestly so confused at this point!!!! Has anyone else had experience with egg yolk peritonitis? Could the shell-less egg I found be caused by something else??? Also are frequent double yolked eggs always a sign of egg yolk peritonitis or could they be normal? I've been getting 1-2 a week since they started laying. I am just nervous to get my hopes up that she has recovered and am not sure if I should continue keeping her separated from the others… Ugh!!! Any help or advice would be much appreciated!