What causes a hen to get eggbound in the first place?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by LRG, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. LRG

    LRG Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 17, 2009
    Lancaster county, PA
    About 10 minutes before we were ready to leave for Memorial Day weekend, I asked for someone to check to make sure the chickens had full waterers. Two minutes later my 10-yr-old daughter comes flying into the house screaming that something killed Miracle. (Miracle was a neighborhood stray Barred Rock that we rescued during the snowstorms in February. No idea where she came from, she was a juvenile, but we had successfully managed to integrate her into our flock of 4 and she had just been laying for about a month.) Went down to the coop and, sure enough, she had prolapsed and was lying dead in the corner of the run. Pretty gruesome sight if you haven't seen a prolapsed bird. Other hens were freaked out and huddled down in the other corner. Miracle, who obviously didn't live up to her name, must have been eggbound. Didn't have a whole lot of time to examine her -- hastily dug a hole and headed out for our vacation after calling to inform the neighbor who was hen-sitting for the weekend.

    Unfortunately, she had appeared perfectly fine earlier in the day. Possibly the only sign I might have had was that she was panting, but then again temps were in the 90's (after being in the 50's the week before) and all the hens were panting. Came running when I called and threw scratch. She did manage to get the egg out -- I found it in the nest box just a little bloody, but must have prolapsed in doing so. I've found a lot of information on what to do, how to identify an eggbound hen, etc., but nothing on the fundamental cause. (Yes, I know the egg is stuck, buy WHY?)

    Is this something that is hereditary or possibly due to a genetic malfunction? Are some breed more prone than others? Miracle always had problems -- laid smaller than normal eggs, shell-less egg once, fart egg once, sometimes pretty thin shelled or otherwise odd in appearance. The egg that did her in was not overly large, maybe a little rounder than normal, but would have been easily laid by any of the other four hens. She always walked weird in comparison to the other hens -- legs far apart and thrown outward as she ran. Maybe she had some sort of genetic deformity? Could it be diet? Miracle was extra large (heavy 7 lbs. compared to my other 4-5 lb. hens) and real feed hog. Probably due to her several weeks of wandering the neighborhood fending for herself in January/February. She always walked weird in comparison to the other hens -- legs far apart and thrown outward as she ran.
     
  2. joedie

    joedie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2009
    SW Indiana
    I've never had it happen but what I've read about it is it can be caused from lack of calcium/Vit D, low protein diet, genetics, old age, and a sedentary lifestyle causing underdeveloped muscles like if in a cage with no room to move around. I can't verify this but just what I've read.
     
  3. LRG

    LRG Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 17, 2009
    Lancaster county, PA
    The underdeveloped muscles make sense. As I said, I have no idea where she came from. Neighbor wondered if she didn't escape from one of the local commercial brown egg operations -- figured they wouldn't bother looking for just one bird. She wasn't fully mature when we found her -- wattle and comb came in later -- but had a hard time hopping on/off the ramp on our tractor coop, didn't fly very well, and always ran kind of odd. Her bulking size made me wonder if she hadn't been given steriods at some point before we got her. Aside from being lost and hungry (eating dropped sunflower seeds from our birdfeeder), she was healthy. I guess if she came from a commercial farm she was probably caged until the day she escaped. Her diet was the same as the other birds -- plenty of protein and calcium. One of my sussex hens lays double yolkers about once a week. They're huge - can't get an egg box to close on them. I'd have thought it would happen to her and not the hen that laid the littlest pullet eggs. Thanks for the response.
     
  4. MotherJean

    MotherJean Chillin' With My Peeps

  5. LRG

    LRG Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 17, 2009
    Lancaster county, PA
    Thanks, MotherJean! Looks like I probably don't have to worry about my other hens. That should put my daughters' minds at ease. They've been worried that it could happen to the other hens.
     
  6. msdoolittle

    msdoolittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 28, 2009
    Yep, all of the above listed problems could have caused it. As long as the others are not having problems, then it was just Miracle. It's usually only when the calcium levels are out of whack that the entire flock would be affected. Sorry about the loss, but just sounds like she had problems in the egg-laying dept. :0(
     

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