Thought it was Egg Binding - It Seems to be Internal Laying


6 Years
Mar 21, 2016
Maine, USA
My Coop
My Coop
UPDATE - PLEASE DISREGARD original post. Replies not needed.

We have since seen new symptoms to indicate definitively this is internal laying. I'll add details later if I can manage it. Right now I have to put down a dear chicken that I really don't want to... my first one. Must get to work.

We have a production Red named Holly that started showing signs of laying trouble yesterday afternoon. In other chickens in the flock we've occasionally seen these signs before as a symptom of laying a rubber egg off-cycle from the roost during the night. So we let her go overnight expecting to find a rubber egg this morning. But nothing happened and she was more lethargic this morning than she was yesterday, and appeared in greater discomfort. We feared she might be egg bound, but checked and there is no egg that our fingers could find.

Does anyone have ideas about what else could lead to these symptoms?

Apologies for the length. Just trying to get all the pertinent info out in one go. Many thanks!!

1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.) - Production Red, 2+ years, approximately 6 lbs. Perfectly healthy and vivacious up until yesterday.

2) What is the behavior, exactly.
- Lack of appetite, but not NO appetite. She will eat bugs and a little feed. She'll eat more feed if it's made into a mash.
- Drinking less than normal, but still drinking
- Pooping very little, but poops are normal with the exception of being quite small. Likely due to less food intake?
- Lethargic. Spends most of the time sitting and napping.
- Vocally quiet - She's normally a "moderate" talker. She's much quieter now, but not totally silent.
- Penguin Walking - A slight penguin walk, but more pronounced this morning than yesterday evening. Definitely appears uncomfortable.
- Abdomen contracting/Vent Flexing - The contractions are not very strong (as in they are not strained) but they are frequent. You can feel them while she sits in your lap.
- For the tell tale symptoms she is NOT exhibiting see Differential Diagnosis below.

3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms? - Less than 24 hours... but counting...

4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms? - No. We had another chicken died unexpectedly a week ago, but we thing that was acute heart failure (went from perfectly healthy and normal to gone in under three hours). All other chickens (three) are completely normal.

5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma. - No.

6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation. - No known factors. Apart from a couple superficial injuries (cut comb, frostbitten comb) she has never had any illness. No trauma. No environmental stresses. No history of laying issues of note. See Differential Diagnosis for more details.

7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all. - See 2 above.
8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc. - See 2 above.

9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
A.) Thinking it was possibly a stuck egg or possibly some difficulty/partial obstruction in her crop we fed her (over the course of a few hours and in 3 or 4 feedings) 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil and 2-3 ml of Nutri-Drench. Yesterday afternoon/evening.
B.)This morning finding no egg laid from the roost and a lesser-than-normal amount of olive-oily poo, we moved her inside to warm up and prepare for egg bound diagnosis. I made a "tonic" of rooster booster, nutridrench, and powdered oyster shell (Ca to aid in contractions). She drank between 1 and 2 teaspoons.
C.) I checked for an egg with a finger probe (gently, slowly, with the contractions, went straight in (not down) 2", no egg and she pooped when I reached 2" (same poo).
D.) Thinking my technique might be wrong we soaked her abdomen in a warm epsom salt bath for 20 minutes while we double checked the probe technique.
E.) We removed her from the bath and my wife did the next probe attempt in case I did it wrong. She got her entire index finger in and confirmed no egg. Holly pooped again at this point and it was the same except it also looked like in addition to the same poop some ablumen came out (between 1 and 2 ounces).
F.) We moved her to the recovery area (warm, dimly lit) and gently blow dried her. She's stayed there ever since.
G.) Since then we've offered her rounds of the "tonic", fresh water, and watery mash (made of water, feed, and just a little rooster booster and nutri-drench). The mash has been her favorite and she's probably eaten a couple of ounces of it over the past two hours. She's probably consumed 2-3 ml of nutri-drench at this point, so we will omit that until later this evening.

10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet? - Completely treat ourselves. We will put her down if we must; that is if recovery does not seem possible (i.e. she stops eating/drinking definitively, shows signs of infection and doesn't respond to antibiotics, etc). We hate to do so, but we do not want her to suffer. A vet is not a possibility.

11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help. - N/A
12) Describe the housing/bedding in use. - Probably N/A, but pine shavinigs for bedding, woven alder fiber mats for nest box liners. All we've ever used...

1.) She is very alert. Although she naps frequently, when she's awake, she's very alert and keenly watches anything around her.

2.) Prolific layer. Before her first molt (last January at about 19 months) she maybe took four days off. She still laid profusely up until 4-6 weeks ago... and now...

3.) Molt Issues? Her molt has dragged on... it's STILL going on 8 months later. We were having problems with paper shelled eggs from her recently, but we had the same happen with most of the girls, too. It was a season of a brutal heat/humidity wave. We chalked her laying troubles to heat stress and ongoing molt.

BUT! She stopped laying perhaps five days ago which she's never done. We thought the molt had finally "set in" and she was just taking a laying break. New feathers emerged faster and she acted perfectly normally (apart from not laying) up until yesterday afternoon...

2.) Not Egg Bound - There is no egg in the oviduct. There is no swelling/hardness in the abdomen or vent. Her vent looks to be in perfect shape and the skin is normally colored.

3.) Internal Laying - There is no swelling/distended/squishiness in the abdomen. Her vent looks to be in perfect shape and the skin is normally colored. She shows no signs of infection.

4.) Crop Obstruction/Impaction - Her crop has not felt squishy. She's been eating a lot of grass (as have they all when they "free range" so we know there's a risk of impaction. So we make sure they always have access to plenty of grit and fresh water. Additionally Her crop has not felt hard/"pointy". We have a lot of wood chips around and sometimes they eat something they shouldn't. When that happens you can feel it in their crop. This is always resolved with a combination of olive oil, nutri-drench, water, and grit. Her crop feels normal except that it's not full because she's not eating/drinking a lot.

Any ideas what ailment(s) might cause these symptoms? Thank you for reading! And thank you for any thoughts you can share!
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6 Years
Mar 21, 2016
Maine, USA
My Coop
My Coop
:hugs sorry to hear this! Is never easy putting a bird down, and even worse when it's a favorite. We're all here for you!:hugs

Thank you. It was a horrible experience. But she's beyond suffering now.

The post script: we had ruled out internal laying at first because it was either genetic (and she had been laying perfectly well for a long time) or due to trauma, which we were unaware of and we keep a very close watch over our flock.

When the yellow in her poops deepened long after she stopped eating olive oil that was the first sign. I re-read everything on internal laying and one thing popped out that was under-the-radar before:

In rare cases oviduct trauma that can lead to internal laying can be caused by a thin shelled egg breaking inside the oviduct.

Before she stopped laying about five days ago she laid several paper eggs in a row that broke under her in the nest box. She was a production red in molt who was continuing to lay. No doubt one DID break inside of her all those days ago and it took until yesterday for the internal laying pressure to build up enough for her to show a sign.

Her day-to-day decay was shockingly fast. By late yesterday morning she was having difficulty breathing. She got one last afternoon with her sisters in the summer breeze, in long, cool grass. She took one last, slow stroll around the play yard and our alpha stayed with her. Then she was down and just napped. We sent her along. She's at peace now.


Crossing the Road
Jun 25, 2019
My Coop
My Coop
Hoping you find comfort in the fact she is at peace and there is no more suffering. Easy decision to make, but difficult to execute. Much respect in putting an end to the suffering.

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