strange behavior prior to first egg

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by juicebox, Jul 10, 2010.

  1. juicebox

    juicebox Out Of The Brooder

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    May 4, 2010
    we have 4 hens, none of which have layed. they are about 5.5 months old. one clearly seems to be ahead of the others (much redder comb and waddle). yesterday she started acting funny (she's a barred rock). she started moving really slow (walking and when she tries to run), hanging out by herself and she has trouble maintaining her balance. we thought for sure we would find an egg this morning, but nothing and she's still behaving this way. she is still eating.

    any ideas? is this normal?
     
  2. chuckzoo

    chuckzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Her behaviour seems a little odd. Check to see if you can feel an egg, by palapting around her bottom. It is not recommended that you stick your finger in her vent really since you could cause a tear or some damage.
     
  3. juicebox

    juicebox Out Of The Brooder

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    May 4, 2010
    just tried that. didn't feel anything egg-like down there, but not sure of the anatomy though. it felt like bones.
     
  4. chuckzoo

    chuckzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When she walks, does she walk like a penguin? Tail down? She may have a egg lodged that is pressing on the nerves in her legs that could be causing her to loose her balance. I would watch her very closely and see what other symptoms see is exhibiting. I will send a link for egg-bound shortly - I just need to find it.
     
  5. chuckzoo

    chuckzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here's some info - hope this helps.

    As we move through the breeding season, there is increased discussion of the problem of egg binding. What is egg binding? Egg binding is the inability of a hen to pass a developed or partially developed egg. A partially developed egg can have either a soft shell or no shell. Many cases of egg binding occur when a hen is trying to pass what appears to be a "normal" egg. The inability to pass the egg quickly results in the death of the hen.
    There are a multitude of theories as to what causes egg binding. Many consider cool temperatures to be the deciding factor. I find this a very questionable theory. Birds in the wild often breed early in the spring while temperatures are still very cool and yet do not suffer from egg binding. I personally have Goulds successfully breeding in my outdoor flights when temperatures are down in the low to mid 40s. Despite raising hundreds of birds in cool conditions, I have not had a hen experience egg binding.
    Another common theory is that the hen is too young. In parrots and budgies, where the bird continues to grow in size for 2 or more years, this may often be the case. The poor hen has just not grown sufficiently to allow the easy passage of the developed egg. Finches and canaries, however, grow and mature very quickly. Most have reached full adult size by the time they reach 4 months of age. In the wild, Goulds have often been observed raising chicks before they have even molted into their adult colors. I have observed this same phenomenon in my own flights when I have been a bit slow in separating my maturing juveniles.
    Let me be quick to point out that I am not advocating breeding very young birds. The offspring of early breeding are not of the same quality as later breedings. It is best, I believe, to allow our birds to become older before attempting breeding. My point is only that early breeding does not, in my experience, result in egg binding.
    Another common theory is that egg binding is the result of lack of calcium in the diet. Most of us offer a variety of calcium sources to our birds (egg shell, cuttlebone, oyster shell) and yet hens still die from egg binding.
    I do believe nutrition is at the root of this problem. Most bird breeders are careful to offer a variety of calcium sources. Rather, I believe, the problem is the inability of the bird to metabolize the calcium that is readily available in the diet. The other major cause is poor condition of the mucus membranes in the vent area.
    Let's look at each of these issues separately.
    Calcium is used by the body to not only form the shell of the developing egg and maintain strong bones, but is also crucial in the proper functioning of the muscles. While it does take a large amount of calcium to form an egg shell, the hen also needs calcium for the muscle action needed to expel the egg.
    Vitamin D3 is crucial in the absorption of calcium. Without it, all that good calcium we offer our birds passes right through the body without being absorbed. In outdoor flights, our birds are able to produce D3 via a chemical reaction to sunlight. In indoor flights, they are unable to do this. Sunlight through a window is not sufficient. The ultraviolet light needed does not pass through window glass. Full spectrum lights can help but some studies have shown that the ultraviolet is only at sufficient levels at less than one foot from the light source. For inside birds, a D3 supplement is almost always helpful.
    An excess of phosphorous, can also interfere with the absorption of calcium. According to Robert Black, plant materials (like all those wonderful seeds we feed our birds, contain an abundance of phosphorous. Animal products like egg foods, insect foods and mealworm, contain an abundance of calcium. By serving both plant and animal products to our birds, we are able to keep the calcium/phosphorous ratio in balance.
    Some of those yummy greens we offer can also interfere with calcium absorption. Oxalic acid found in spinach, beet greens, chard and rhubarb reacts with the calcium so that it can not be absorbed. While these greens are rich in a number of nutrients, it is important to feed them in small amounts and provide extra calcium when doing so.
    In order to pass a developed egg, the mucus membranes around the vent must be soft and flexible. It is the fat based vitamins that are primarily responsible for this condition, most notably linoleic acid (Vitamin F) and Vitamin A. Without these essential nutrients, the oviduct becomes dry and hard. Most avian vitamins do not include the fat based vitamins, so it is important to supply a separate source for these vital nutrients. These essential fatty vitamins can be found in many of the oily seeds such as safflower seed, sunflower seed, and niger seed. I have found niger seed the easiest for finches to accept.
    If you do have a finch suffering from egg binding there are some things you can do.
    • First and foremost, a warm, quiet environmentwill allow the bird to focus it's reserves on passing the egg rather than keeping warm.
    • An immediate increase in calcium will do nothing to harden the shell of an already formed egg but will do wonders in improving the muscle action needed to expel the egg. Calcivet by Vetafarm, provides not only the calcium, but also the D3 needed to absorb the calcium. It can be served in the drinking water or sprouted seed if the bird is still eating and drinking. If the bird has stopped eating and drinking, it can be administered directly into the crop.
    • Massaging a small amount of vegetable oil around the vent will help soften the mucus membranes around the vent and help the hen pass the egg.
    • Once the egg has passed, the bird will appear to have made a complete recovery. It is now time to assess the nutritional problems that caused this problem in the first place. It is dangerous to attempt to breed this hen again until the nutritional deficiencies have been addressed.
     
  6. juicebox

    juicebox Out Of The Brooder

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    May 4, 2010
    thanks for the info. it seems like she's got a stuck egg. we checked a fellow hen and she felt much different.
     
  7. juicebox

    juicebox Out Of The Brooder

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    May 4, 2010
    we gave her a warm bath and then lubed the outside of the vent. we can now see the lump of the egg through her skin, but she still hasn't passed it. she's now sitting in a towel nest in the house.
     
  8. chuckzoo

    chuckzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you have a heating pad or warm water bottle (the kind people used to take to bed to keep their feet warm) or one of those warming pads you stick on your back for pain you can put that under her in a box. Not dierectly cover it with something (an old T shirt). It is also a good idea to have a damp towel for humidity providing she is not siting directly on it.

    It is best to keep her in a quiet dark place until she lays the egg.

    Best wishes - keep us posted.
     
  9. chuckzoo

    chuckzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh and you can also crush up some TUMS and give that to her, roll it in some cheese so she will take it. The added calcuim will help the muscles that move the egg along.
     
  10. juicebox

    juicebox Out Of The Brooder

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    May 4, 2010
    no egg yet, but she recently got out 2 craps and seems to be less lethargic, but is still having balance issues.
     

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