Egg bound vs. Water belly

JessMay

Songster
Jul 23, 2019
99
115
126
Northwest Illinois
hi. I have a hen who is walking a little wobbly. After picking her up, we realized she had quite a swollen underside. I wanted to know what symptom differences there were between water belly and an egg bound hen in order to treat her correctly. Her underside feels kind of like a Water balloon. She is an older hen, about 4 years old. Comb looks normal. This photo kind of shows how wide she looks. I do not have a photo of under her yet.
 

Attachments

  • 5A4E3331-882C-4E95-B214-67BCDE737C48.jpeg
    5A4E3331-882C-4E95-B214-67BCDE737C48.jpeg
    714.5 KB · Views: 214
hi. I have a hen who is walking a little wobbly. After picking her up, we realized she had quite a swollen underside. I wanted to know what symptom differences there were between water belly and an egg bound hen in order to treat her correctly. Her underside feels kind of like a Water balloon. She is an older hen, about 4 years old. Comb looks normal. This photo kind of shows how wide she looks. I do not have a photo of under her yet.

Definitely sounds like waterbelly.

Eggbound hens will be straining to expel something... waterbelly hens have built up fluids in their abdominal cavities either from some variety of laying disorder or organ failure.

Based on what you're describing, I think she would benefit from being drained. That extra fluid makes digesting food more difficult, it makes breathing more difficult, and it's a lot of extra weight to carry too - which doubles up the strain on the heart.

Use either a 1" long 16 gauge or 14 gauge needle. These can be found at farm supply stores near the cattle vaccination stuff. The video starts with using a syringe to draw fluid out of the abdomen. Because I'm usually doing this on my own I adapted the technique to just poking the needle into the lower right abdomen and letting it run out using gravity, which is also demonstrated towards the end of the video linked below. Sometimes the hen will even continue to drip out the fluid after the needle is removed. How she responds will have everything to do with how she's feeling otherwise. Many times I've had them perk right back up if not immediately, by the next morning. If they're already on their way "down" draining their fluid is still a benefit because if they get to a point where they're weak and laying down, it becomes so hard for them to breathe- they literally gasp for air which is horrible.

Anyways, here's the video link:

 
Ascites or water belly causes enlargement of the lower belly between the legs. It can feel spongy or tight like a drum. It may cause labored breathing. It is common in hens over 3, who may have internal laying or egg yolk peritonitis, cancer, or heart failure. I have seen the yellow fluid inside the abdomen upon necropsies I have done on a few hens. An 18 gauge needle with a large syringe may be inserted just under the skin of the abdomen to rule out ascites. It is not without risk. Once a chicken has this, it will eventually be fatal. In post 42 of the following thread, you can see where a hen is being drained:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/laying-hens-with-water-belly-or-ascites.68731/page-5
 
Definitely sounds like waterbelly.

Eggbound hens will be straining to expel something... waterbelly hens have built up fluids in their abdominal cavities either from some variety of laying disorder or organ failure.

Based on what you're describing, I think she would benefit from being drained. That extra fluid makes digesting food more difficult, it makes breathing more difficult, and it's a lot of extra weight to carry too - which doubles up the strain on the heart.

Use either a 1" long 16 gauge or 14 gauge needle. These can be found at farm supply stores near the cattle vaccination stuff. The video starts with using a syringe to draw fluid out of the abdomen. Because I'm usually doing this on my own I adapted the technique to just poking the needle into the lower right abdomen and letting it run out using gravity, which is also demonstrated towards the end of the video linked below. Sometimes the hen will even continue to drip out the fluid after the needle is removed. How she responds will have everything to do with how she's feeling otherwise. Many times I've had them perk right back up if not immediately, by the next morning. If they're already on their way "down" draining their fluid is still a benefit because if they get to a point where they're weak and laying down, it becomes so hard for them to breathe- they literally gasp for air which is horrible.

Anyways, here's the video link:

Thank you! I just picked up a needle and syringes and will be trying this soon.
 
Good luck! I’ve never dealt with water belly, I hope your hen will be okay!! ❤️😓🐔
Ascites or water belly causes enlargement of the lower belly between the legs. It can feel spongy or tight like a drum. It may cause labored breathing. It is common in hens over 3, who may have internal laying or egg yolk peritonitis, cancer, or heart failure. I have seen the yellow fluid inside the abdomen upon necropsies I have done on a few hens. An 18 gauge needle with a large syringe may be inserted just under the skin of the abdomen to rule out ascites. It is not without risk. Once a chicken has this, it will eventually be fatal. In post 42 of the following thread, you can see where a hen is being drained:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/laying-hens-with-water-belly-or-ascites.68731/page-5
Thank you for the advice! We just drained her and she seems to be doing much better. She roosted at the very top of the bars which is her normal spot, but since she’s been swollen she’s been staying at the very bottom. Does this mean that she has an underlying condition then? And how often will we have to drain her? We drained about 1/2 cup today because we didn’t want her to go into shock by draining too much. Will we have to do it weekly or so? I’ve never experienced this before and want to make sure she is comfortable.
 
I'm so glad she's one that has bounced back! The frequency for draining will depend on the hen herself. It's good to check weekly - some signs that she's starting to blow back up again include the feet will become farther apart with more of a John Wayne kinda walk.

Another very good give-away that she needs to be drained again is if you notice her breathing abnormally hard compared to the rest - I know it's warm out so this won't be as easy to spot as a symptom. They start breathing through their mouths when the poor little things are starting to fill back up - fluid compresses EVERYTHING.

I've had hens I've drained once that have gone on to be just fine for long stretches - months long. And some it's a weekly, every couple weeks, or monthly chore. She can probably do with draining more than the 1/2 cup at a go - If you just pop the needle in and let the fluid drip out instead of using a syringe plunger to have it come out faster, the dripping greatly reduces the chances that she goes into shock. And sometimes even after the needle is out, they may continue to drip out the needle hole for a while.

Draining won't cure her of whatever the underlying issue is, but it will enable her to perk back up and have good quality time! If she returns to laying eggs, chances are her issue is heart or liver related. If she gives you lash eggs (a roughly egg shaped ball of cooked looking white/yolk/pus) or no eggs - then the problem is in the reproductive tract. Unfortunately none of these are directly treatable - but we can control the fluid which makes them so much more comfortable.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Back
Top Bottom