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Egg binding  

Egg binding

Post Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:29 am

Many thanks to Egluntine for this excellent and informative article on what to do if you think your hen is egg bound.

Egluntine wrote:Egg Bound Hen

An egg bound hen is unable to expel an egg which is impacted in the lower part of the oviduct.


Miserable appearance
Ruffled feathers
Rapid breathing
Hunched posture
You may be able to feel the impacted egg on examining the hen’s abdomen and vent.

Main Causes

A. Lack of calcium

B. Inability to metabolise calcium due to vitamin deficiencies.

C. Problems affecting the vent.


Hens need calcium for three main reasons.

1. To maintain strong healthy bones.

2. Formation of strong eggshells.

3. It is utilised in the muscular contractions required to expel the egg.

If there is insufficient calcium in the diet, it may cause the hen to have weak bones, thins shelled eggs, fractures due to calcium being leeched out of the bones and possible egg binding.
To prevent this it is essential that adequate calcium is provided in the hen’s diet.
This can be achieved by feeding good quality layers pellets and providing mixed poultry grit.
Other useful additions are ground oystershell, baked ground eggshells and limestone flour, which is pure calcium carbonate.

Vitamin deficiencies.

Vitamin D3 is essential in the absorption of calcium. A lack of it leads to non absorption and incomplete metabolising of the calcium in the hens diet.
Hens are able to metabolise a certain amount of Vit D3 via a chemical reaction to sunlight, if they spend a reasonable amount of time outdoors free ranging. If they spend a large amount of time cooped up, this will not happen as readily.
An excess of phosphorous, can also interfere with the absorption of calcium. Certain plant materials, especially seeds, contain a large amounts of phosphorous.
Animal products like insects and mealworm, contain an abundance of calcium.
By allowing free ranging, you can ensure that the hens are able to get a varied diet and keep the calcium/phosphorous ratio in balance.
In addition, certain greens such as spinach, beet greens, chard contain Oxalic acid which 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. This can be done by ensuring that mixed poultry grit is always available, for the hen to access on an ad lib basis.


In order to pass a developed egg, the mucus membranes around the vent and in the oviduct must be in good condition and flexible.
Fat based vitamins such as Linoleic acid (Vitamin F) and Vitamin A will help ensure that optimum health of the vent and oviduct is maintained. Good quality layers pellets, the opportunity to free range and the occasional handful of sunflower hearts will ensure that these vitamins are absorbed.
Adding cod liver oil to the hens pellets a couple of time a week will ensure that they get VitD, Vit A and Omega 3 fatty acids.

What should you do if you think your hen is egg bound?

~Remove the hen temporarily from the flock and keep her warm, even placing her on a hot water bottle, so that her bodily reserves can concentrate on expelling the egg rather than on generating heat.

~Give the hen some extra calcium, preferably in an easily absorbed form, with the Vitamin D3 added, such as Zolcal D or Calcivet, both of which can be added to drinking water. If the hen is not drinking, it can be syringed directly into the crop. This will help increase and strengthen the muscular contractions needed to push the egg out.

~You could place the hen in a bath of warm water. Leave her in it for about 20 minutes, but don’t allow the water to cool down. The warmth may relax her enough to enable her to pass the egg.

~Some folk recommend holding the hen over a bath of steam to relax her. This is harder work than the warm bath method, and has the potential to be dangerous, both to the hen and to the person holding her.

~You could lubricate the vent with vegetable oil, petroleum jelly or lubricating jelly to soften the mucus membranes around the vent and help the hen pass the egg.

~With a syringe you could very gently squirt a small amount of oil or lubricating jelly inside the vent for the same reason.

~You could very gingerly insert a lubricated gloved finger into the vent and with the other hand push gently against the hens abdomen and work the egg carefully towards the vent. Don’t go in too far and be very careful, as you may accidentally break the egg, which could lead to internal lacerations and infection.

~Once the egg has passed, the bird will perk up straight away.

~If the hen cannot pass the egg after all the above suggestions have been tried, or if the egg breaks inside the hen, it would be advisable to take her to a vet.

Thanks for all your hard work, Egluntine. A most helpful article :D .
~: Kate :~
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