Visible Vent

Lorielus

Songster
Jul 9, 2017
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Hi all,

Hopefully just being paranoid, but seeking a quick bit of advice.

Have a hen that seems to be a little broody (nesting, staying on the egg as long as possible), but is eating fine when lifted out manually, drinking etc., and seems to be fully mobile etc.

However, I noticed when crouching next to her that her vent is clearly visible at the moment (i.e the vent and surrounding pink skin, probably a circular bare patch around 3 inches in diameter.

Is this just because she's been sitting on the egg(s) in the nesting box so the feathers have been pushed aside, or is this something that I should be concerned about?

I did notice she didn't lay yesterday as well, though she does sometimes take a day off (possibly also affected by freezing weather and a lot of snow meaning they haven't been able to forage/roam much).

Should I just monitor for now or is there more practive action I should be taking?

Many thanks as always.
 

azygous

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It's important to be able to tell if a hen is broody. Have you ever had one go broody before? A broody hen usually leaves no room for doubt. She's irritable, determined to sit on the nest no matter what, and her breast feathers will be missing along her keel bone. When touched, she will puff up and growl, then emit a steady low-pitched clucking that sounds like a popcorn popper.

If your hen has none of these signs, she may be egg bound. The swollen vent can be a symptom of inflammation of the oviduct and pushing for long periods to try to expel a stuck egg. Sometimes there is a liquid dribbling from the vent, either clear or tinged with yellow.

Yes, this latter is a cause for concern. Steps should be taken to help the hen try to pass the egg. Placing her on a heating pad (on low) with a damp bath towel over the top to create moist heat will help relax and moisten tissues to make it easier for the egg to come out. Calcium should also be given, and the hen should be kept hydrated and watched.
 

Lorielus

Songster
Jul 9, 2017
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Thank for the quick response.

She definitely fits the bill for broody - matches all the symptoms except the missing feathers, there's no sign of that, but the clucking and irritability is exactly how she's behaving (pecks at me, growls when I pick her out, then starts the clucking).

Should I expect her to still lay while broody?
 

azygous

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You are very fortunate! A broody hen is a healthy hen! She may lay one more egg and then she will stick the nest for the next 21 days or beyond. If she's sitting on fertilized eggs, she will then care for the chicks for the next six to ten weeks, and she will not lay for that entire period.

You need to decide if you want chicks. Are you prepared to deal with half the chicks being cockerels? Will the eggs be safe from the other hens climbing into the nest to lay theirs on top of the incubating eggs, creating confusion and egg breakage? Will the chicks be safe from curious others once they hatch? Will the chicks be able to safely get in and out of the nest? (they can't jump up or down from high places for a couple weeks.)

If all this is too much for you to deal with, you may interrupt the broody hormones by breaking this hen in a open mesh bottom cage for about three days, and she will then return to laying within two weeks.
 

Lorielus

Songster
Jul 9, 2017
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That's really good to hear :). They're not fertilized (short of a rooster invasion from elsewhere anyway), so no worries about little chickens coming along just yet :)

I'm not desperately fussed about her returning to laying immediately as long as she's healthy - am I better letting it run its course for 21 days or would she be happier with it broken in the three days and returning to normal?

With regard to the visible vent, with her being broody, is that likely to just be the way she's been sitting then? (Sorry to ask again, I'm six months in with these my first chickens, so a bit paranoid).
 

azygous

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I can't possibly comment on the appearance of the vent without seeing a good, clear photo.

It's a waste of a hen's physical reserves to permit her to sit on an empty nest for a month. It accomplishes nothing other than to starve her since she will only eat very sparingly during this period. To assure your hen the best of care for her health, I recommend taking the time to break her.

She must not be allowed to return to the nest or to find a substitute where she can find warmth for her underparts as that perpetuates the hormones that keep her broody. A cage is the only way to efficiently break a broody and return her to a normal state in the shortest possible time.
 

Lorielus

Songster
Jul 9, 2017
76
72
118
Thanks again, absolutely perfectly clear advice.

She's been removed from the nesting box for an hour now anyway (closed it behind her as the other hens have all lain already) - fortunately the snow is helping as she can't nestle on the ground. The vent feathers I think are returning to normal, but if it's visible at all once they're roosting I'll take a photo.
 

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