is my hen egg-bound, sick, or just old and fat?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by toddreed, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. toddreed

    toddreed Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 12, 2010
    Oakland, CA
    I got my red star, "Ranchy", two years ago as a full grown hen, so I don't know how old she is. She used to be one of my best layers and a feisty queen of the pecking order. Lately she has been much milder tempered, in seemingly good mood but less lively than she used to be. I noticed just recently that she was very bloated in the belly. Thinking something was seriously wrong I isolated her from the rest of the flock last tuesday. She hasn't laid since then (almost a week), and she may have not been laying at all before that, though I can't say for sure. Other than not laying and her mild mood, I can't see anything else wrong with her. Her comb is a healthy ruby red. She has her wits about her. She's eating and drinking and doesn't seem to be in any discomfort. Her belly, though, is quite big, like an old man's pot-belly. I just weighed her in at 6.25 lbs. I guess that's not a crazy weight for a full-grown hen, but she feels much heavier than any of the other birds.

    Two different chicken owner friends came over this weekend and gave me their very differing opinions on the matter. One said she's definitely eggbound and I need to act immediately. The other said she's just really fat and needs to go on a diet and that i shouldn't feed any of them so much ( i just keep the feeder full of layer pellets all day and let them eat their fill).

    I have tried, twice now, to see if i could feel the egg as one does with an egg-bound hen in her abdomen from the outside, as well as probing her vent (i was very gentle and used a glove and lubrication). I can't feel anything. I haven't tried the bath method.

    My most recent theory today is that she has simply stopped laying as a result of old age and so instead of putting the energy from the food she eats into egg production, it is going straight to fat. That's all i can think of. Is there something else that could cause the bloating? Is she egg-bound and I'm just not experienced enough to feel the egg?

  2. jenni22776rn

    jenni22776rn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 6, 2011
    Central Maine
    Is she eating and drinking ok? Does she jump up on the roost or does she seen a though she has a hard time to stand? When my light Brahama was egg bound..she looked like she had to take a poop and was unable to jump on the roost and at night we found her sitting on the coop floor. She also was trying to sit on her nest for hours and becoming upset when there was no egg and she would act droopy like with her feathers puffed out..I was able to feel an egg and her vent was swollen..I would say if you were unable to feel an egg and her vent is not swollen..and if she is acting ok as far as roosting...eating and drinking...she is not egg bound. I have a 6 year RIR Gretta that has slowed down her egg laying over the last few months..I was afraid she was egg bound because of her behavior was not the same..she seemed slower..not herself. Ended up that she was just slowing down due to her age..
    Good luck with her...hope she is just entering her golden egg years and passing the egg laying feathers to the younger hens!! [​IMG]
  3. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Red Stars dont get fat. They are geared for egg production. She could be egg bound but I suspect it's something else such as ascites or peritonitis. I've never dealt with neither. Type either in the BYC search box and read up on them.
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Everything I've read about internal laying shows definite signs though, low energy, not moving around much, just picking and food or not eating at all (at least for spells), messy bottom often (egg goo). I've only had one case, and it definitely stood out to me that my chicken was sick! [​IMG]
    The "belly" that you're talking about - does it just look that way, or are you actually feeling a fatty, pliable swelling???
    And being egg bound, don't they kind of hunch, and waddle???
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

  6. toddreed

    toddreed Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 12, 2010
    Oakland, CA
    She does have a good appetite. She doesn't seem to be uncomfortable or deathly ill. She is not laying down and panting or anything like that. She looks pretty normal until you pick her up and put your hand on her belly. She simply has a way more mellow attitude than usual. I probably wouldn't worry if her mood change was all there was, if not for her swollen belly and that she isn't laying.

    It sounds like peritonitis or ascites is the culprit. But in both cases it seems there is not much i can do but keep an eye on her, try to keep her well nourished and hope for the best. I will do more reading about these conditions when i get time.

    Thanks for the replies.


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