Egg-bound problem -- broken egg high up in chest -- need advice, please

Stumpy

Songster
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Apr 15, 2008
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One of my hens went missing for over 24 hours, so I sadly assumed she had been attacked by a predator, but today she ran back into the yard while I was outside. I noticed over the next several minutes that she did a large liquid poop and squatted a few times without expelling anything. I began to get concerned that she may be egg-bound. I finally caught her and was surpised that she is missing feathers on her abdomen. I felt her body and she seems thin, but could feel no eggs. Her crop feels squishy and "crunchy."

(EDITED for incorrect information)

She won't come into the coop at night, but stays hidden most of the day.
 
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chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
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Australia
One of my hens went missing for over 24 hours, so I sadly assumed she had been attacked by a predator, but today she ran back into the yard while I was outside. I noticed over the next several minutes that she did a large liquid poop and squatted a few times without expelling anything. I began to get concerned that she may be egg-bound. I finally caught her and was surpised that she is missing feathers on her abdomen.

Whereabouts are the missing feathers? If it's around the vent, it's not broody patches, but if it's her breast to belly areas, then it's most likely broody hormones causing feather loss in preparation for incubating eggs.

I felt her body and she seems thin, but could feel no eggs, except for what feels like a broken, empty egg high up on her chest.

You can't feel eggs in their chests. The lower body is where the eggs are formed. I think maybe what you're feeling is her crop. (?) If so, and if it feels 'broken' maybe she's swallowed non-edibles and they are impacted or just preventing her from digesting normally which would explain the weight loss. It can also slow down their whole digestive system until they are constipated and struggle to poop. But egg binding is still a possibility so don't rule that out.

This would explain the two or three eggs I have found in the nest box lately with what appeared to be yolk on them.

I would think the eggs with egg yolk on them are the work of something eating some of the eggs, possibly the hens themselves, or even just one of them.

So, it would seem that she is passing eggs, but there is that broken one inside. Is that possible?

Generally speaking, no, however I did hear recently of one hen who had internal laying issues for ages who passed a large mass of broken and combined eggshells. But she wasn't laying normal eggs during that time. They aren't capable of laying additional eggs when still egg bound with one.

I have her in a carrier and I am about to go buy some antibiotics and liquid calcium. Do I need to do a warm soak even though there don't seem to be any other eggs?

I'd use some lubricant both through her mouth and into the vent, like cold pressed olive oil, to see if that shifts her problems. But depending on what you feel in her crop, she may need the contents manually removed, either massaged up and out through her mouth or cut out. Crop surgery isn't the big deal it may seem, they tend to recover fine even if the crop has been totally removed. Due to fox attacks I ended up with several cropless chickens who nevertheless went on to heal and live normal lives.

Best wishes.
 

Stumpy

Songster
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Apr 15, 2008
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Thanks for your reply. Well, I did think it incredibly odd that an egg would be in that area. The feathers are not missing at the vent area at all, but on her chest. Perhaps she had made a nest and broodiness would explain her disappearance, but I am baffled by what appeared to be straining.

Oh, gosh --- crop surgery sounds almost worse than being egg-bound.
 
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chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
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Australia
Thanks for your reply. Well, I did think it incredibly odd that an egg would be in that area. The feathers are not missing at the vent area at all, but on her chest. Perhaps she had made a nest and broodiness would explain her disappearance, but I am baffled by what appeared to be straining.

Oh, gosh --- crop surgery sounds almost worse than being egg-bound.
Crop surgery is nowhere near as bad as egg binding, generally speaking, there are exceptions to every rule though. It's just one of those simple things that sounds far worse than it is. ;)

Crop surgery is simply cutting into a stretchy membranous pouch, it heals remarkably well and rapidly, even if it's a fox that did the 'cutting'. I didn't stitch mine up after the foxes, even though one male was torn from chin to breast, and dribbled food and water out of multiple holes from chin to chest and also crowed out of a hole in his chest. I couldn't tell where to begin in the terrible mess, even if I thought stitching was necessary --- but I didn't, and thankfully it wasn't, his body fixed the mess (with the help of a few applications of Stockholm tar to cure the gangrene that had set in by the time I found him. Amazing stuff.)

About the possible hidden nest, that is a definite possibility, but my best layers tended to develop broody patches, never go broody in their lifetimes, and grew full spurs and often mated with other hens, or even with roosters as though the roosters were the hens, which to me says they had a lot of both male and female hormones going around their systems. Anyway, it's just an example of broody patches not guaranteeing she's broody. It does mean the hormones are present but the behavior may not be.

Another possibility is that she's eaten something obstructive which has been causing her to waste away, and she's only now beginning to pass it, but is struggling over the final elimination. I'd orally give her a drench of cold pressed olive oil to help. Cold pressed is important because if it's not, it's been heat treated, and is able to go rancid and in fact most olive oil you can buy is already somewhat rancid. Cooked vitamin E is not very good for you, raw is best, same is true for animals. Olive oil is high in vitamin E and other antibacterial and anti-inflammatory compounds. Cooked oils tend to sit on the gut's surfaces too whereas raw ones are able to be absorbed and digested. Some oils are best avoided like Canola, Cottonseed (if not organic), Mineral Oil, etc. If it's imported olive oil chances are high that it's been heat treated too, so local is better.

Best wishes with her.
 

Stumpy

Songster
11 Years
Apr 15, 2008
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Thanks again. I live in a rural area and I don't think cold-pressed olive oil is available. She's gotten away again, so I hope I can catch her tonight.
 

Fancychooklady

Crowing
7 Years
Jun 14, 2012
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Are you certain that she hasn't already hatched her chicks. Rotten eggs often explode under the hen and leave smelly gunk in the feathers. Hens pluck their own feathers out from the underside when they are sitting on eggs in order to get direct body heat to the eggs. When they come off the nest they are on a mission to poop, eat , drink and dust bathe. If you wait 10 minutes next time she comes out , you could follow her back to the clutch.
 

Stumpy

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11 Years
Apr 15, 2008
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Fancychooklady, thanks for your reply. She couldn't have been laying on eggs long enough because she has only spent two nights out of the coop. Since she ran off into the woods this afternoon, I have not been able to find her. I am about to go out and see if she has returned to the roost in the coop for the night.
 

Stumpy

Songster
11 Years
Apr 15, 2008
1,960
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211
I just spotted her, but she ran away. Hopefully I can catch her with DH's help this evening and am determined not to let her get away. I've been very careful about where I have gotten my chickens and use a quarantine period, so I have never had a disease issue before. Hopefully it is not something contagious. There have never been chickens on this property before, and she hatched out here last May.
 
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