Possible prolapse, eggs shellless

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by forestrymom, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. forestrymom

    forestrymom Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 11, 2010
    I'm not sure what's been going on. The past 3 days I've had shellless eggs in my next box, I suspect from one hen, as the other eggs have been fine with nice hard shells. Today, one of the hens has something hanging out of her. Here's a picture. I am VERY new to chickens.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  2. Squishypuff

    Squishypuff Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Kernersville, NC
    I can't tell what is going on from the photo, but a prolapse looks like a blob of red flesh hanging outside the vent- if that helps you any.
     
  3. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi Forestrymom,

    When pullets first come into lay, they will occasionally lay unusual eggs (such as soft shelled eggs). While it's not ideal, if it only happens a few times it's probably not a big problem and should settle on its own. [​IMG]

    However if it happens continuously then something is wrong. Eggs with soft shells are much harder for the bird to pass than normal eggs, and they often break inside the bird. Once an egg has broken inside, infection is a real possibility. It might be a good idea to examine the bird up close to see if she has a yellowish, smelly discharge — that would indicate possible infection (and may need treatment).

    Meanwhile there are some things you can do if it seems to be an ongoing problem. First is to adjust the diet to include more calcium (e.g. shell grit).

    If increasing calcium doesn't work, there may be a difficulty absorbing calcium. This can be caused by many things — for instance birds that were fed too much calcium at a young age find it hard to later absorb calcium. Birds that don't have access to sunlight (especially if the ration is deficient) won't make vitamin D which is needed to absorb calcium. A diet high in meat meal or meat-and-bone meal will often cause soft shelled eggs, because its phosphorus-calcium ratio is wrong. Lastly, some viruses can cause problems in the shell-making gland.

    Sorry for that infodump but as you can see there are a lot of possible causes. If the soft laying doesn't resolve, you may need to force her into a moult so she stops laying. Do this by putting her in a dark quiet cage and feeding her only grain for a week or so. The lack of protein and dim light will make her stop laying. After a rest she may resume laying without the problem.

    I hope this helps,
    good luck,
    Erica
     
  4. forestrymom

    forestrymom Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 11, 2010
    What kind of grain do I feed her? I'm pretty sure its a prolapse, and what the cause is, I don't know. My husband wants to cull--is it possible for her to recover completely and lay just fine? She's about 9-10 months old. I'm not exactly sure on her age. I have oyster shell out for them, but now I worry about whether or not my young chicks, who also have access to the oyster shell, shouldn't? Anyway, thanks for the information!
     
  5. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Forestrymom,

    hens can recover from a prolapse, though it can be difficult. I'll try to summarise what to do as I understand it.

    The prolapse needs to be gently wiped with a sugar-water solution (sugar helps draw the prolapse inward) and then very carefully helped back into the bird. Holding the bird with her bottom up will help via gravity. Use a soft gauze pad or something similar to do the pushing. Then she needs to be put into a dark quiet crate somewhere. (Some people say anti-haemorrhoid creams can help a prolapse stay inside... Not sure about that myself as I've never used it.) The prolapse needs to be checked regularly to make sure it stays put. However the reality is it will probably come out again and if it happens often, things are grim... [​IMG]

    If the prolapse goes back to normal then she needs to be brought off the lay as soon as possible. This means a darkened crate or room, and only feed grain for a week or so. Best would be either plain wheat or cracked oats. This will stop her laying, start her moulting (changing/shedding feathers), and may give her system time to heal.

    However if whatever's hanging out is not fleshy but seems to be part of a broken egg membrane, it should come out, not go back in. A prolapse is usually rather pink looking and the vent itself will be wider and redder than normal.

    Your husband may want to cull as he may know a prolapsing bird will probably develop the condition again in future — however that depends on the cause. Laying soft shelled eggs can definitely cause a prolapse due to straining (the soft eggs don't pass as easily, because muscle contractions have nothing to push against). If the soft egg laying resolves then she may not prolapse again.

    EDIT: oops, missed other question. The chicks won't eat the shell grit until they need it, so having some out in a hopper won't hurt them at all. [​IMG]

    Hope this helps,
    Erica
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  6. forestrymom

    forestrymom Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 11, 2010
    Well, the prolapse resolved on its own but she is still laying eggs with a soft shell (very very soft). She laid one on the roost this morning. She is 2 yo. I just started oyster shell a week ago (we've only had them a few weeks). How long would it take for the extra calcium to take affect? I'm inclined to think she's laid a couple eggs with solid shells, but I'm not positive of that, in the time she's been laying soft shelled eggs. Thanks for all your help!
     
  7. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 5, 2010
    You should see a difference quite soon if calcium availability is the issue. I'd give it a week.

    Meanwhile, can I ask if she's been wormed recently? Sometimes a high worm burden can limit calcium (and other nutrient) absorption. If she feels a bit low-weight compared to the others then it might be time to worm them all. Sometimes this is all it takes to bring the good eggshells back.

    If the soft eggs continue despite higher calcium and worming, then it would be a good idea to force a moult to give her system a rest. As I understand it, if it's one of the viruses then a moult can bring her back to normal lay.

    Hope this helps,
    Erica
     

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