hi Folks, I have 2 BR hens that are about 1 1/2 yrs old, got from a friend. One's been laying right away, the other has had only a few soft shell eggs. We've had them just over 2 months. I thought I been smelling ... an odor... from Ginny, who is the every - third week soft egg layer. there is oyster shell available, and they are free ranging in the yard, I don't know how to get her to get the nutrients she needs....but the immediate problem... Last night she went into the hen house quite early. I thought that she might be laying a real egg. But she never came out. Yesterday I was certain I saw a trail of flies around her rump. This morning - no egg, no soft egg, nothing. Normal stools in house. However, when they came out, I noticed a distinct smell that smells like something rotten or dead. I checked Ginny's vent, and it was nearly entirely crusted over. Yellowy-back crud, ugggg, smell is horrible. I did notice some loose watery stools I assumed were hers. I got a little bin, filled up with warm water and spent about 10-15 minutes trying to massage the crud off. I think I got a bit too vigorous and there was a little redness, a little tiny bit of blood, so instead of trying to pull off chunks, I just rubbed.The water started getting too cool to seem like it was working. I got a lot off but not all. After I dried her as much as I could manage, I rubbed a big glob of neosporin all over the vent and the cruddy stuff. NOW WHAT? It smells better but not great. she is working it around and I saw more stools that look .... egggy - like the white, gelatinous. but with poop in it. Do I need to try to go into the vent?? She's never had a hard shelled egg since we have had her, so I was thinking for some reason the stuff just got stuck there, and dried, but hoping there is nothing else. I'm new to chickens, I tried to feel around while I was washing her but I haven't got a clue what I'm feeling for. she seems to be eating and moving around fine. In fact, I expected her to run like crazy to get away when I let her go and she was pretty casual about it. The other chicken came over and picked at some of her wet feathers a bit, and she started grooming herself. I was thinking of giving her some gatorade. Also they both ate sunflower seeds from my husband's hand this morning but I don't think she was as vigorous as usual. Do I watch and wait? Do I need to feel around in the vent? Or can I try another warm bath on her rump this afternoon???