Internally laying hen?

ZazasMom

Chirping
Jan 18, 2021
56
74
73
Northern Rhode Island, USA
Hi chicken lovers! We keep having problems with our hen Zaza, about 14 months old Barred Rock. She had a respiratory issue in early June (sneezing all the time) and I thought we cured whatever it was with one injection of Duramycin 72-200, the only thing I could get my hands on at the time. At that time she stopped laying eggs but recovered otherwise.

We had switched from Layer crumbles to All Flock crumbles with Oyster shell on the side because we added new chicks. Zaza never touched the Oyster shell as far as I could tell, and for a while I didn't offer it as it kept getting dirty and I thought she didn't eat it anyway :-( I thought she just needed time to get used to the new chicks (she still isn't into them at all, they're 11 weeks old now) and also recovering from her illness, so I didn't think much of her not laying. I finally washed her poopy but today (she was always prone to a poopy butt) and noticed that she has a fairly big bulge below her vent. After researching a little bit I have a feeling that she is/was internally laying?

She is acting quite normal, although I think she's not eating as much and has gotten a bit skinnier. Her poop looks normal, maybe a tad watery and not as big as before. Comb, wattles, ear lobes are nice and red, she still runs to me for meal worms, is "talking" to me when I'm around, etc. She also goes into the nest box and announces her that she'll be laying an egg with her usual noisy cackling, but no egg. Her last egg was on 6/3, so that's almost 7 weeks without an egg now. She used to lay 6 eggs a week.

Is she in danger? What can I do? Can I give her Calcium in another way (without giving it to the 11 week old chicks)? I should also add, we do have red mites in the coop and I will treat with Elector PSP asap this week.

Thank you very much!!

The pics below show her right after her bath today, feathers still wet. Please zoom in for close up.

IMG-4381.jpg IMG-4392.jpg IMG-4393.jpg IMG-4405.jpg IMG-4414.jpg
 

Wyorp Rock

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She may be laying internally or have another reproductive disorder like cancer, salpingitis, Peritonitis, etc.
For me, when a hen is starting to have reproductive problems, I just observe/monitor them. If they are eating/drinking, relatively active, crop is emptying and parasites are taken care of, then I leave them be and enjoy them being around.

Once a hen begins to decline, then I evaluate daily to see if there's any supportive care that I can offer to make them more comfortable. This may include vitamins, treating crop issues, etc. Once they continue to decline and supportive care is not helping, then I put the hen down.

Reproductive issues are not uncommon in laying hens, but if you do lose her, then sending the body for necropsy can give you more info or if you are up to it, do your own informal investigation - it's an opportunity to learn something new.
 

ZazasMom

Chirping
Jan 18, 2021
56
74
73
Northern Rhode Island, USA
Oh my, that's more sobering than I hoped. She's so young!

I was thinking to give one round of penicillin and a calcium supplement, but are you saying it's too late for that?

If it is peritonitis, would her body still produce an egg everyday and basically add to the "yolk mess" in her abdomen? So, in order to stop making it worse, would a calcium supplement at least prevent any new eggs from going down the same path?

If I could just keep her at this stage and give her a happy life, that would be ideal. I'm not looking forward to putting her down :(
 

Eggcessive

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Good advice from Wyorp Rock. It won’t hurt her if you choose to give an antibiotic short term in case she is having a laying problem. Amoxicillin or Fish Mox found locally in a feed store or bought online is good. Dosage is 125-250 mg twice a day given orally for 7-10 days. Calcium tablets with vitamin d3 could help if she was having trouble passing an egg, but might not in this situation. She does appear to have an enlarged lower belly under her vent, and that is a sign of either internal laying, ascites, or cancer. She might live awhile in this condition, but hard to know exactly. Some of mine lived a couple of years with enlarged full lower bellies. I have had infectious bronchitis virus in my flock early on, and that is known to cause reproductive problems and egg shell problems. I do a necropsy on any hen that I lose, and that is a good way to look for cancer, salpingitis, ascites, and other conditions. Hopefully, your hen will live a few more years. Some people do have hormone implants or spay hens to stop them from laying, but the hormones are expensive and done 2-3 times a year, while surgery on chickens is very risky.
 

ZazasMom

Chirping
Jan 18, 2021
56
74
73
Northern Rhode Island, USA
Thank you both very much.

Can you help me understand the situation with egg laying? Is it possible for her to lay eggs with this condition? She hasn't laid an egg in 7 weeks. It sounds like I should prevent her from laying (correct?), but she seems to want to lay eggs, she's often sitting in the nest box and cackling. Or is this a result of feeling "something" that she wants to get out of her body?

Thanks!
 

Wyorp Rock

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Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Sep 20, 2015
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Oh my, that's more sobering than I hoped. She's so young!

I was thinking to give one round of penicillin and a calcium supplement, but are you saying it's too late for that?

If it is peritonitis, would her body still produce an egg everyday and basically add to the "yolk mess" in her abdomen? So, in order to stop making it worse, would a calcium supplement at least prevent any new eggs from going down the same path?

If I could just keep her at this stage and give her a happy life, that would be ideal. I'm not looking forward to putting her down :(

Thank you both very much.

Can you help me understand the situation with egg laying? Is it possible for her to lay eggs with this condition? She hasn't laid an egg in 7 weeks. It sounds like I should prevent her from laying (correct?), but she seems to want to lay eggs, she's often sitting in the nest box and cackling. Or is this a result of feeling "something" that she wants to get out of her body?

Thanks!
She "could" go back to laying eggs depending on what's going on. It's not impossible. I've had hens that had issues, then "got better" for a while, laid eggs, etc., only to decline months or a year later.
Some hens I've had, never laid another egg, but did fairly well (seemed happy within herself) for a while.

I can only guess that a hen feels "something" or feels like they need to lay an egg. Mine did that too.

Calcium will not prevent her from laying eggs. It's not a bad idea to follow the suggestions in post#4 by @Eggcessive if you are wanting to treat with an antibiotic.
It may or may not be needed right this minute - that's up to you to decide, but it's good to have on hand.

For me, I try to give them a happy life, they bring me joy and I adore my hens (and Roosters!). I do pet them along, but at some point you can tell they have had enough and know it's time.

I'm sorry if you felt I came across blunt or harsh, that was not my intent. I feel that we should face reality and try to understand some of the things that are going on, this way it's not a shock and we are more prepared for when the time comes.
 

ZazasMom

Chirping
Jan 18, 2021
56
74
73
Northern Rhode Island, USA
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply! Both your posts were very thoughtful and helpful! I didn't think it was harsh :) I am all for setting realistic expectations, and I guess I was just shocked at the thought of having to put her down much sooner than I thought. Also shocked that such an ailment can hit a bird at this young age... I'm very new at all this.

I worry about Zaza a lot, because we've put her through all this trial and error of chicken keeping and I'm blaming myself for not being more attentive to her - maybe I could have helped her, but now it's too late. Our new chicks will benefit from the lessons we learnt with Zaza.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with this type of issue! And yes, I will buy the antibiotic and then decide when to use it - is it possible that you can't get Amoxicillin without prescription anymore? I believe the Fish Mox is easier to get my hands on...
 

ZazasMom

Chirping
Jan 18, 2021
56
74
73
Northern Rhode Island, USA
Hi all, I wanted to post an update on Zaza. This Tuesday I found an egg from her!! It had to have been from her, since the other 4 chicks are 17 weeks old and nowhere near laying. She laid two more since then, so I'm hopeful that she'll go back to laying regularly :celebrate

I wonder if this is because a while ago I started giving them fresh grass everyday, since they don't have access to grass in their pen. I stuff the grass in two hanging feeder baskets and they come running and love pulling it out and eating it. I had stopped giving Oyster Shell, because Zaza didn't eat it anyway, but the chicks did, which I think is bad for them. Is the grass providing the calcium Zaza was missing?

One thing though is that all 3 eggs had a good amount of blood spots in them, maybe 3 - 4 bigger ones and a few tiny blobs. Does anyone know what might be the reason for this? I hope this will resolve itself soon, as we didn't feel comfortable eating them...
 

Eggcessive

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southern Ohio
Chicks may sample oyster shell, but they probably won’t take too much. She does need that for extra calcium, and grass won’t supply it. Are you feed the young ones grower feed or all flock feed? Once everyone is old enough for layer feed, that has most of the calcium they need. Blood spots can be normal especially in brown egg layers, and in older hens. If you can post a picture of what you are seeing, that can help. She may have something going on in her oviduct that is causing this which may be the same thing as made her ill.
 

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