Ok, I know this is a crazy idea but has anyone ever had a hen spayed?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by elmo, May 8, 2011.

  1. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    Hermione, one of our favorite pet chickens, has female trouble. She's been eggbound once, and now is laying very bloody eggs, with the inside of her vent torn up. She's just laying eggs that are too big for her.

    We discussed what options there are with our vet, and he explained that the operation to spay a hen frequently results in her death. Hormone shots to suppress laying frequently cause other troublesome side effects. In other words, he was telling us that there are no good options other than euthanasia.

    Right now we're trying to get her to go broody and give her insides a chance to heal up. Of course, we know that when she starts laying again, the same problem is likely to recur.

    I feel sick at heart, and I want to know that I've looked at all possible options, and that I'm operating on good information. So, has anyone ever had their chicken spayed, and what were your experiences?

    Thanks very much.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    No experience whatsoever. My only comment is that if you feed her less protein, her eggs will be smaller. I don't know how practical this is for you.
  3. backyardmenagerie

    backyardmenagerie Songster

    Mar 13, 2011
    I can't imagine that anyone has spayed their hen, considering not only the cost and relatively small value of the hen (compared to other pets), but also the fact that a hen is usually kept for eggs, not lack thereof.
    However, there are other options. If you look at the reasons hens stop laying, maybe you can impose some of these conditions and help her out. You could try putting her in a dark coop before the sun goes down, thus shortening the daylight that she gets. Trying to induce a molt is probably easier than encouraging broodiness.
    You can also change her diet like the previous poster suggests. Many people report egg production slowing or stopping when they feed too much scratch; you could try replacing part or all of her diet with that. Unfortunately, it's not the healthiest of diets. But if you consider that women that are underweight stop having periods, it makes sense that a hen that is underfed or fed a reduced nutrient diet would stop laying. Restricting nutrients such as calcium and protien should be most effective. You could also try limiting her diet by putting her on grass during the day, and only feeding a small amount at night - a little healthier than feeding scratch, but should result in a lower amount of food consumed than free feeding.
    Other disruptions such as a change in housing, a new flock member, being removed from the flock, etc, maybe shock her enough to stop, at least for a little while. Unfortunately this means causing her stress.
    Hope you can figure something out, you're doing a lot more for this hen then most people would.
  4. Caliphe

    Caliphe Chirping

    Apr 7, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Quote:Actually, recently I've seen quite a few BYCers post about their spayed hens. It probably goes hand in hand with caponing roosters.
  5. crossgirl

    crossgirl Day Dream Believer

    Mar 15, 2011
    Lakeland, FL
    I saw a post too a couple days ago about someone who's hen had an emergency and the end result was that she ended up spayed. I'll try to find it.....
  6. backyardmenagerie

    backyardmenagerie Songster

    Mar 13, 2011
    Quote:Actually, recently I've seen quite a few BYCers post about their spayed hens. It probably goes hand in hand with caponing roosters.

    [​IMG] I stand corrected... I'm going to have to go look that up now. Sounds interesting!
  7. Aj1911

    Aj1911 Songster

    Jun 4, 2009
    a few people have fixed their hens, if its a good vet and the hen is in good condition (not internal laying, no infection, healthy) she will have about a 75% chance of making it and recovering fully, if your vet doesnt think its a good idea look around for one that has done it with good success

    sadly theres no such vet around me so i lost my favorite hen to internal laying that i couldnt stop
  8. exop

    exop Songster

    Jan 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    I'm sorry to hear about Hermione's health problem.

    As far as spaying goes, I'm not sure how much of her reproductive tract your vet is thinking of removing?

    Back in the 1700s and 1800s, in some parts of France, a pullet was often spayed if she was intended to be a meat bird... a small operation was performed, similar to caponizing, which removed just the ovaries. A pullet spayed in this way was known as a poularde (pool ard). If she was spayed before coming into lay, she would never start to lay eggs... if she was spayed after starting to lay, she would lay whatever eggs had already started to form, and no more after that. Not having to waste any more of her energy on laying eggs, a poularde would become plumper and meatier than an intact hen.

    Nowadays the term poularde is used more loosely, to refer to any hen who is killed for meat before reaching laying age. I have not seen any references to whether or not the "poularding" operation is still performed anywhere on a commercial scale.

    Apparently it is safer to remove just the ovaries, than to perform a more extensive operation. The author of the work quoted below says he had great success with the procedure in different times of year, using nothing more sophisticated than 2 sutures to close the wound, a few surgical tools, and some camphor ointment (this from the days before modern antibiotics).

    I would think that performing this minimal operation using modern veterinary techniques, with antibiotics, would not be as dangerous as your vet thinks. At least, the author of the article presents it as very straightforward.

    NB. I have heard that chickens do not respond well to anesthetization - but in my experience stitching up wounds, they are model patients and very co-operative. It may be possible and safer to do the whole thing without anesthesia.

    Mariot-Didieux, Journal of Practical Agriculture and Gardening, 1848 p.140, "Raising and Marketing of Chickens" :

    Castration of Hens
    Castrating a hen makes it into a poularde; the operation, which is a simpler one than caponization of a rooster, is only known and practiced in a few localities. The goal of the procedure is to prevent fertility and the formation of eggs, and thus facilitate the fattening process.

    Other authors who have described the castration of hens, such as Olivier de Serres and commentators on his work, have not said enough on this important subject; I will report here only what I have observed myself.

    Castration of a hen consists of removing her ovaries; removal of the oviduct is not necessary, and that operation is more dangerous.

    A chicken's ovaries are two small round bodies, joined by a short ligament; they appear stuck together in a cluster; the organs are formed from a yellowish, ligamentous tissue, and are quite hard; at the center of each ovary, you will find a smooth-walled cavity; they are located in the rear of the chicken beneath the projection known as "the button" (ed: prob. pelvis).

    Operating procedure is to pluck the feathers from the area between the end of the tail and the "button", to make a transversal incision with a scalpel beneath and to the rear of the button; through this incision you will be able to locate the two round, conjoined yellow organs; disect from beneath to separate these bodies from the os sacrum (backbone near the pelvis); take hold of them from below with a small steel surgical hook, and separate them from the "button" where they are attached; the operation thus completed, two sutures will be necessary to join together the sides of the wound; this can accomplished with an ordinary or a curved needle and a light thread.

    I have performed this procedure on a number of hens without any problems, during the hottest months of summer as well as during the coldest weather.

    The wounds of a chicken are very prone to infection ("gangrene"), like the wounds of other pale-fleshed animals. A dressing should be applied of camphor ointment; one or two applications should be enough, and should consist only of a light annointing of the wound.

    A spayed hen will continue to lay, if there are eggs already formed, but further eggs will not be produced; a pullet spayed before the formation of eggs will not lay at all.

    (in the original) Mariot-Didieux, Journal d'agriculture pratique et de jardinage, 1848 p.140, "Éleve et commerce des poules" :

    De la castration des poules.
    La castration d'une poule la constitue poularde ; cette opération, plus simple que le chaponnage des coqs, n'est connue et pratiquée que dans un petit nombre de localités ; elle a pour but d'empêcher la fécondation des poules, la formation des œufs, et de faciliter l'engraissement.

    Les auteurs qui ont parlé de la castration des poules, tels qu'Olivier de Serres et ses commentateurs n'en disent pas assez sur ce sujet important ; nous ne rapporterons ici que ce que nous avons observé nous-même.

    La castration d'une poule consiste à lui enlever les ovaires; l'enlèvement de l'ouraque n'est pas nécessaire, et l'opération est plus dangereuse.

    Les ovaires de la poule sont deux petits corps ronds, réunis par un petit ligament ; ils paraissent accolés les uns aux autres ; ces corps sont formés d'un tissu ligamenteux, jaunâtre, assez dur ; au centre de chaque ovaire on remarque une cavité dont les parois sont lisses; ils sont situés sur le croupion, sous une éminence appelée le bouton, en dehors de l'abdomen.

    Le mode opératoire consiste à arracher les plumes entre l'extrémité de la queue et le bouton, à faire, à l'aide d'un bistouri, une incision transversale en arrière et en bas de ce même bouton ; cette incision fait découvrir deux corps ronds, jaunâtres et réunis ; on dissèque en dessous de ces corps pour les séparer de l'os sacrum ; on les saisit en dessous avec une petite érigne ou crochet de fer, on les sépare du bouton où ils sont accolés; l'opération ainsi terminée, deux points de suture sont nécessaires pour réunir les lèvres de la plaie ; ils se font avec une aiguille ordinaire ou courbe et un fil léger.

    Nous avons pratiqué la castration de quelques poules pendant les grandes chaleurs de l'été et pendant les grands froids sans accidents.

    Les plaies de la volaille sont, comme toutes les plaies des animaux dont la chair est blanche, très sujettes à la gangrène ; les pansements doivent être faits avec de la pommade camphrée ; un pansement ou deux sont suffisants ; encore ne consistent-ils qu'à oindre légèrement la plaie.

    La poule châtrée continue sa ponte, si les œufs sont formés, mais ils ne se renouvellent plus; la poulette châtrée avant la formation des œufs ne pond pas.​
    Last edited: May 8, 2011
  9. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

    Apr 7, 2011
    Western NY
    My Coop
    Quote:I don't have much chicken experience yet, but I've dealt with other bird species for many years and this is true. Finding a good avian vet is hard sometimes but worth their metaphorical weight in gold! Birds can be fixed if they are in great need of doing it to maintain their health. It's not an operation to go into lightly but if it means saving the bird it is possible.

    So, it is a matter of finding the right vet and deciding what the bird is worth to you.... we keep birds for different reasons and I respect that some value their chickens for their output and literally what the bird is worth. Some people value the life and companionship of the bird more than the dollar amount. It's a totally personal thing! [​IMG]

    I have known several parrots that have been spayed and have gone on to live manymany years (some are still alive today).

    I'm sorry I don't have any advice specific to chickens. [​IMG] My best wishes, I know it's a hard decision.

    Does DFW = Dallas/Forth Worth? If so, and you'd like, I can check around and see if I can help you find an alternate vet. [​IMG]
  10. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    Quote:That's actually a very helpful suggestion, thanks.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by