Need advice - hen possibly egg bound, or?


9 Years
Mar 8, 2010
I'm very worried about my 2yo Rhode Island Red hen. Yesterday we noticed she was limping (then not moving much), she has a distended, red abdomen, tail down. Not panting or otherwise looking too disturbed. She did not lay yesterday, and not yet today. We isolated her in the dog carrier and brought her inside last night. Nothing has changed today. I lubricated my finger and probed her vent, but I could not feel an egg at all. She's definitely not walking at all, just lying down. She eats when I bring food to her, but she doesn't seem like she'd go to the regular feeder. I keep thinking she must be egg bound, as I think she lays quite large eggs usually, but I couldn't feel anything, the distended abdomen feels quite soft.

Any advice or help to this newbie much appreciated.

I would keep her inside, in a dark, quiet, warm spot, to stop the laying cycle. Give her 1/2 tums crushed in yogurt, or wet crumble if you don't have yogurt. A warm bath might help her push something out if it is in there. Here's some info on egg-binding:
Does she have any discharge from the vent? What do her droppings look like?
Thanks Chookchick,
I will keep her inside (she's been in since mid afternoon yesterday). I tried the warm bath, for about 15 minutes yesterday, with no result. I will try the tums/yogurt later today. I've been reading about Ascites and wonder if that might be it. I live in Oakland, CA and have spoken to a couple friends with back yard chickens, but haven't been able to find a local vet who might give advice.

Her poop is green and white, and I think runnier than normal. No discharge really, only when we massaged her abdomen, a little viscous fluid came out (looked like raw egg white, I hope an egg hasn't broken inside). She is not moving toward food or water, but otherwise doesn't seem too distressed.

Again, many thanks for taking the time to reply. This is our first chicken illness, so I'm quite concerned.
If its ascites, she'll have an abdomen that feels like a water balloon and be distended. She'll also probably be lethargic. I had an avian vet extract 16oz of fluid from a hen of mine with that problem. She quickly returned to normal. The lab report of the fluid the vet extracted indicated she had fatty liver disease. I've since cut down on high carbohydrate treats for her and have been treating her with milk thistle extract which helped with the liver function.
I would call around and find an avian vet to look at your bird to determine what she has. Ascites doesn't get better on its own. Eventuallly the fluid build up will affect her heart and circulatory system.

Thanks again for responding to my post about our red hen! She is still the same. I ended up taking her to an avian vet yesterday - the office visit was affordable and informative, turns out the vet keeps chickens too. His opinion is that the distended abdomen is actually not the problem; he said it looked like she'd had it for a while and it didn't strike him as unusually pendulous...he was more interested in her limp and the strange way she is holding her right wing. He kind of ruled out a neurological problem b/c the hen is alert and acting normally. He thinks it's a muscular injury, like she fell or otherwise got hurt. He gave some antibiotics for any secondary infection and I noticed that she ate a lot more food once we got home from the vet. I'm keeping her quarantined, but out in the yard and exposed to sun. We shall see. I haven't tried any special foods for her yet. We'll see how she does today. She seems to be happier out with her sisters. I am wondering if she'll lay, since we were thinking she might have been egg bound. The vet showed me how to really check for that, and we agreed we couldn't feel anything stuck in there.

A note to anyone who might later read this thread about vet visits for hens: we weren't sure we would make the financial and time commitment to take the hen to a vet - they are not really our beloved pets, we have them for eggs. That said, once I was in a position of seeing one unwell, I found it difficult not to try to help her. Once I found an affordable vet (near Oakland, CA) who knew chickens, I decided to go - hopefully to give her a better chance of healing, but also to learn as much as I could, in case I faced another chicken illness in the future. This vet was super informative and pleased that I wanted to learn. He showed me how to do a general check for wellness, examine the crop, look for lice and mites, and described chicken anatomy. This itself was enough for me to feel the $65 was worth it. Then, his opinion gave me peace of mind, which counts for a lot. Anyway, just my two cents for those who might be trying to decide what to do.
Hope she is doing better, but due to the description of wing holding and limp- did the vet talk to you about Marek's disease (viral)? She is out of the age range for the average bird showing Marek's symptoms- but it can have a more chronic form & lymphoid leukosis (also viral) can look similar. PM me about where you got this bird- I am near by to you and there are some chicken issues that seem to be more common in this area. Also- if it comes to this (hope it won't), you can get a free necropsy done at Davis if you take her there. Or send her via mail. If your vet didn't mention these possibilities- call and ask him whether these are a possibility after reviewing the physical exam & neuromuscular abnormalities.

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