Thursday, March 1, 2012

Egg yolk peritonitis: Diagnosing a sick chicken

My pretty hen before she got sick
It seemed ironic to tend to one chicken with so much care considering so many of her brothers and sisters went by the way of my husbands knife. But this hen was not on the time line, she was not supposed to die. This hen was a beautiful Red/Colored Dorking with an excellent temperament and a nice short, stout body type; I had big plans of hatching her eggs this spring to start my own little backyard breeding project.

Around three weeks ago when I went out to collect the eggs, within the pile was a mess of yolk. I did not think much about it, assumed an egg broke, cleaned the mess and carried on.

Two weeks ago I noticed my favorite little red hen looking quite plump and waddling. At the time I was happy to see this, to me it meant she was really filling out and her chicks in spring would also grow to be short plump birds.

Five days ago my husband called me at work to let me know my favorite hen was just sitting in the backyard and not moving much. She had walked from the coop to under the porch like all the hens do when they're let out, but she later walked back toward the coop and then just sat there. She let my husband pick her up which was quite unusual; shes a friendly hen, but not so much as to let us pick her up.
I did a quick Google search and my initial conclusion was that she was egg bound meaning she had an egg that was stuck and for some reason she was unable to pass it. I asked my husband to bring her in and make her a steam house to loosen the egg. He set her up in a dog crate with blankets covering most of it, a humidifier under the blankets and a heater on high in the entrance way. It reminded me of the steam room at the gym, but smelled much more like sweaty feet, well I guess that steam room smells like sweaty feet too.

A 'steam house' in an attempt to help what I thought was an egg bound hen:
Dog cage covered in blankets with a red heat light and humidifier

When I got home I went right to inspect her. She was standing up in the cage, head moving around and still curious. Her tail feathers were pointed down and upon further inspection her vent (nice word for butt) was messy and her pelvic area was swollen and felt mushy, not at all hard. Having no previous experience what so ever and relying only on Google searches, I still was not certain what was wrong with her so I continued to treat her for being egg bound.

Tail feathers pointed down, head hanging, all signs of sickness
Symptoms of a hen that is egg bound are:
  • lethargic
  • solitary
  • stopped laying eggs
  • pelvic area may be swollen
  • pelvic area will feel like a hard mass, or you can actually feel the egg that is bound
  • may have lost interest in eating and drinking
  • ruffled feathers
An egg bound hen will die if the problem is not addressed quickly. I knew this and gave her a 20 minute warm bath since the steam room wasn't helping. Putting the hen in a warm bath of water up to her vent is supposed to relax her and help her pass the egg. Other than clean her bottom, this seemed to do nothing. My daughter thought it was hilarious to give a chicken a bath.

A warm bath may help and egg bound hen
I ran back to Google to search for what else could be wrong with her. What was so frustrating is that so many chicken illnesses and diseases have the same symptoms or the information about the illness says that symptoms vary from chicken to chicken. It seemed impossible to find any answers.

I started to worry about Coccidiosis, a common parasitic disease of poultry which affects the digestive tract.

Symptoms of Coccidiosis are:
  • ruffled feathers
  • lethargic
  • head drawn back into shoulders.
  • a chilled appearance.
  • diarrhea 
I really was hoping this wasn't the case because that means the rest of my birds could possibly have been infected. She fit the symptoms, but that didn't explain her swollen abdomen. has a list of common chicken illnesses and treatments which is very helpful when starting from the beginning and diagnosing a chicken, it is part of a series called The Essentials of Tending a Sick or Injured Chicken. I referenced this material several times as I was looking into things that could possibly go wrong with a chicken. I actually googled that phrase, but it pretty much just brought up chicken recipes.

When I really started to put all the pieces together and put a lot of thought into anything that seemed strange over the past few weeks, egg yolk peritonitis started making the most sense.

Egg yolk peritonitis is the presence of yolk material in the coelomic cavity, meaning that the egg is not taken up by the oviduct but is instead deposited into the abdomen. This causes a mild inflammatory reaction because the yolk material spreads through the air sacs and over the abdominal organs. If no bacterium is present then this condition is not always fatal and all yolk material will be eventually be reabsorbed. The more common form is septic egg yolk peritonitis. The yolk material is contaminated with bacteria and causes a severe inflammatory reaction throughout the abdomen and is almost always fatal.

Symptoms of egg yolk peritonitis include:
  • loss of appetite/anorexia
  • weakness
  • depression
  • respiratory distress
  • lethargy
  • fluffed feathers
  • yolk-colored droppings
  • swollen vent and/or abdomen (the swelling feels spongy to the touch)
Symptoms can come on suddenly or over the span of a few weeks. A hen that lays soft shelled, no shelled or strange irregular looking eggs are susceptible to egg yolk peritonitis. Now that I have this information I know I saw the warning signs when I found the egg yolk while collecting the eggs: It didn't occur to me that there was no broken shell and I didn't even think a shell-less egg was possible. The signs were also there when she started waddling and looking 'plump.' When I actually inspected her she was very thin and mostly bones; the look of fullness came from her fluffed feathers and swollen abdomen.

Trying to make my hen comfortable during her last days
There is no commercial treatment for this disorder. If you have the money and the bird is very valuable you could try treating with antibiotics if the disease is diagnosed in time, but results are mixed and the outcome is generally not good. Surgery to remove the yolk is possible if it is caught in time, but again may not help in the end.

Since I could not justify paying a vet for a procedure that likely would not work, all I could do was make my little hen as comfortable as possible. I kept her in the entrance way in a bin of shavings. I offered her plain yogurt and cooked eggs which she ate most of the first day, but lost interest the second and third day. I put some apple cider vinegar in her water hoping for a miracle, but she wasn't drinking anymore after the first day.

Her breathing became more labored and she moved less and less. Once it became painfully obvious she would not recover my husband took her out of her misery while I was out and gave her a proper burial.

I was glad I was able to make her more comfortable in her final days and to relieve her of her suffering before she was too far gone. I cannot stress the importance of knowing signs of illness in your flock and taking all of the clues into account when making a diagnosis. It is important to watch your flock on a daily basis to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary and the overall health of your birds looks good.  Because I was not aware of signs of danger (shell-less egg laid, fluffed feathers of a hen, waddling) I caught her illness when it was too far gone, had I caught it sooner a vet may have been able to intervene and save her life. I have to keep reminding myself it was just a chicken.


Chelseajean said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your chicken. We had something similar happen to a bantam barred brahma chicken over the winter. By the time we realized what was happening it was too late. At first we thought she had an intestinal infection/parasite but because no other chickens in our flock were experiencing any symptoms we had to rule that out. She was a good chicken, I can relate to the difficulty of losing a "chicken" but also a very cool pet.

Admin said...

Because of the nominal cost of a chicken it is really hard to justify any vet care. But it is really frustrating just sitting at home on the computer trying to figure out what is wrong with your favorite hen. What did they do before google?!?!

Zoicite_56 said...

There is a treatment for EYP. Its a hormonal implant that is inserted into the chicken's neck or breast. The implant effectively stops the hen from laying and so the EYP symptoms will disappear. Hormonal implants are available from Avian Vets and are available as a 6 monthly or 12 monthly duration. Some chickens respond differently to the implant and it may last longer or shorter then expected. When the EYP symptoms return it is time for the implant to be renewed. They vary in price between $100 to $250 for the implant and possibly extra if the hen requires syringing to remove the yolk build up from her abdomen and for antibiotics. I have had tremendous success with my Red Star hen with EYP and thanks to a 6 monthly implant she is still with us today. Her implant has lasted nearly 8 months but we have noticed her breathing has become more difficult and she has slowed down. She is booked in for a 12 month implant which will cost me $205 and includes the consult fee. I hope you have better luck in the future. Gold Coast - QLD

Admin said...

Thank you for the information about the hormonal implant. It's great to know there are options out there.

Nikki Cooper said...

I am dealing with the same frustrations... It seems like the symptoms my girls have could be any number of problems... Some of which are quite scary to be honest with you. After about of a week of my home remedies all but one of my hens are back to their normal selves. I found your blog by googling swollen chicken tail end, lol... I will be checking out the site you referenced to see if I can narrow down what is wrong with her... I am so sorry you had to go through this... I feel your pain!

Lynn Taylor said...

We encountered a similar thing - our chicken Bertie could have been a sister to yours, they look identical! Unfortunately we thought she was egg bound too and gave her warm baths. (Had the same problem with a bit of egg in the nest) Took her to the vet today and she had to be put to sleep. Thanks fo rsharing your story, it helps the understanding process.

andrea69au said...

thank u for posting this imfo cause i am losing my hen at the moment and i am sure its this. my hen was old when i got her (she and 2 other hens were gunna be killed because they had finshed laying) i dont eat eggs so it didnt matter to me as i had just moved to a small farm and wanted to have chickens so took them and 2 roosters that no one wanted (one of them wants to kill us lol but thats ok we run or take the dog out with us lol) the 5 of them are free to go where they want infact they aint even locked up choosing to live under the house, thats fine with 6 dogs there are no foxes out here or after 7 months they would of been gone by now. well last week i found one of the hens dead and thought she had died of old age. then noticed a week later that one of the other hens was just standing in the paddock i hadnt seen her around the day before but they offen go off around on there own and i hadnt gone looking i just hadnt seen it because i hadnt been out the back where she could of been. last week we delt with a egg bound green check conure and had given her calicum under vets advise as we new what it was and that she had it. and she passed her eggs, well i left the chook alone and the next day found her sleeping agaist the house wall all cuddled up and thought hmm she is really sick maybe she is egg bound. so brought her in and dosed her with calicum thinking that should help her but couldnt feel any eggs so we googled also and i put her in a cage and boiled water and filled the bathroom sink up with boiling water and sat the cage over it with blankets covering her by then she was just sleeping unless i touched her where she would open eyes and drink and eat and would sit up and do the biggest fart and shit at the same time. no egg day 2 and she is loosing the battle she is still alive on day 3 at 4am but i dont think she will be alive by morning. ive kepted up the hot water under her and or tho she should be put down i cant do it. i do believe she has this too sad and now i will no if i see it again thanks for this imfo

Deb Brockway said...

Thank you fro the very informative article. I currently have a coral that is going through the same thing, she has never been regular, a lot of no shells, and many days with incomplete shells, very few complete eggs. She had recovered from being "sick" once before, feel bad for her but as you said treatment is expensive and not always successful....I have one question should I get rid of the eggs she has laid? Are they contaminated? Thanks a bunch...

Admin said...

There are several reasons a hen will lay shell-less, thin-shelled, or abnormal eggs. One reason could be a lack of calcium in the diet, another could be an abundance of sodium in the diet. The hens reproductive system could simply be flawed, or she could indeed be sick. If the hen shows any symptoms of illness, I would not eat eggs she has laid. If it is a dietary concern, I see no reason to avoid them. Thanks for your question!

Cheryl Benson said...

Well, this is the second time she has surprised me Thing 2 is what I call her (we have 3 red hens, a buff and a bard rock). Was barely wandering around the pen two days ago, after being so sick, yesterday, she is out trying to keep up with the other girls. I soaked her bottom and got her cleaned up some (it was really warm yesterday). She came in when I called for bed.... I actually agree about the female system flawed. We will see how it goes. Thank you for your response.

Dayla said...

great post, thanks, I shall look at more of them.

Ida H said...

Hi, I'm sooo greatfull for your description of egg peritonitis. It is the first description I found about this strange word.
Have a hen that died of this a week ago and I got the answer from the preliminary autopsy today that it concerned a severe peritoneal inflammation.
Two more chickens have died from this so now I'm really worried ...
But as I said, THANK YOU for your blog post!
Hug Ida from Sweden

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Ida. I found it very difficult to find information on this as well. In some of my research I found that quality food may help, but I know we have few choices when it comes to the kind of food I can buy for chickens around where I live. Best of luck - keep in touch.

vivienne mulligan said...

last wednesday when i went to feed our 5 chickens, i noticed that only 4 came clambering over towards me, so after searching around the patch, i found 1 lying on its side, finding difficulty in standing, yet she seemed alert, i brought her inside and after examining her, (thinking had she been got at by a fox or other animal) I could see no signs of this. Having had chickens for 3 years now, not all the same ones may i add, I see the usual tell tale signs, of the vacant, depressed, staring appearance, listless, just standing there. on one occassion, after seeing one of my chickens like this, I know this sound mad, but i gave her calpol, 2.5ml and she started to come around, so i continued this for 3 days and she made a full recovery! My father laughed, saying that if he ever had a headache when he was visiting me, that he should just eat one of my eggs!! lol. Anyway, back to my poor sick chicken. I have been giving her antibiotics, to no avail. She cannot stand, her legs are like jelly so i am thinking it sounds like Peritonitis from what i have read about it. God love her, she was making an effort to stand, and with the bit of strenght she could muster up, she kept flipping backwards, nearly summersaulting! Today is day 5. After bringing her outside, still the same on the legs, she wont really eat or drink un prompted now, so i am giving her little water via a small syringe being carefull not to choke her. But today, i also notice that her breathing looks laboured. It is very sad to watch her like this, Will i be cruel to let this continue, or to put her out of her misery, i dont know what to do.
Vivienne, West Meath, Ireland.

Admin said...

Thank you for commenting Vivienne - what a lovely name, you share it with my daughter!

I don't have the heart to put an animal out of it's misery, though, I do feel it is always the right thing to do. My dear husband has this difficult job. If it wasn't for him I am not sure I would be capable of carrying out the task, I would probably check with my local vet to see if they could humanely do this like they do for sick cats and dogs.

You're doing great trying everything you can - it is just so difficult to pinpoint the symptoms of a chicken, verify the disease, and find a solution with such a small window of time. Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

We lost a silkie golden bantam to this today. We noticed she had been alienated from the flock and her bottom was enlarged. We took her to the vets and they thought she was egg bound and said she must lay within 24 hours, if she does not to bring her back. We gave her the antibiotics and seemed to pick up, but on return to vets they put a syringe in her to see if there were yolk and unfortunately there was. Vet recommended we put her to sleep :0( I feel your pain and know they are not just chickens but good company too. Thank you for sharing your story too.

julia.angelina said...

I have a five year old hybrid industrial egg layer I rescued from a farm 2.5 years ago. She has always had some troubles, periodically getting a puffed up toosh and down turned of her flockmates died last year from internal layer issues, so I changed their feed to flax, coconut, corn and greens. Flax has been useful in staving off ovarian cancer (which afflicts 40% of hens bred to lay copious amounts of eggs after age 4) and her tail has been upright for a year. For over a week now, she's been getting slower, weaker and have loose bowels. She appears puffed, so I thought it was the same issue as her flockmate and opted against a vet visit, as the other ended up dying from the anesthesia. I figured she'd just live out her days as happy as she could. Well, the past two days she's just been sleeping. She opens her eyes when provoked and she drinks water, but hasn't eaten since we force fed her a slurry of chick feed and water since the day before yesterday, and today I forced a vitamin electrolyte blend. She has not laid any shellless egg material, as the previous internal layer had. Her vent feathers aren't fanning as if trying to lay an egg, but she has very watery bowel movements. I think it may be a parasite or bacteria or virus of some kind. We have a vet appoitment for this afternoon, but it's a half hour away. I pray just the stress of the trip doesn't do her in. I feel rotten about not getting her help as soon as I noticed a problem. I really love this girl and I'll be so upset if I could have done something for her but only waited too long.

StrawberyTwirl said...

Really useful post, and has helped me through the precesses today, thank-you. I have 4 chickens at my nursery school, they are about 2 yrs old. Snowdrop, a coral, appeared to be struggling on Friday. Waddling like a duck, but still keen to feed and drink. Abdomen very distended, hard, but squishable.
I brought her home with me Saturday, fed her treat mix with grated chalk & cod liver oil. Metacam on a bit of bread. Sat her in a box on a heat pad.
No movement with distended abdomen overnight, and poo slimey and smelly.
Popped her in the garden for a bit of exercise and she really perked up.. held tail high and appeared to be less 'waddly'. Sadly she returned to her house after about half an hour, standing 'heavy. Tried the warm bath... which she actually seemed to enjoy... even settling in it. Thought great... this looks positive... vent started making 'movements' let her be for half an hour but nothing. Brought her out, towel dry and sat her with heat pad for a couple more hours. Whilst she was still happy to take food, and eyes bright, breathing a bit laboured and, she looked so uncomfortable... I feel with the symptoms she was presenting, little point in prolonging her discomfort Thank goodness for unsentimental husbands!

Shirley Weick said...

Woo Hoo...My little banty hen..was not moving this morning..I tried putting her in a warm bath...for 2 mins...took her out..put her on a cloth in front of the wood stove....with in 2 mins ...she laid an egg covered in loose poo...smelly like a rotten egg...
she is eating cheerios right now...still not moving but does look more alert...hoping for the best..TY

Admin said...

Shirley - Great to hear about your banty hen! I hope she is still doing well, sounds like that was her problem.

So glad this post is helping others, the research I did really helped me learn about chicken illnesses and what to look for. Sometimes it is not always in our power to save our feathered friends, but at least we have some tools to try and at least feel somewhat useful.

Nina Sapphire said...

You behaviour is unjustifiable and irresponsible.
I don't mean to be rude but I think that if a person isn't responsible enough to take care of an animal they should stop adopting them. You fall into this category obviously.
The only way that you help others is by showing how irresponsible you were so others will avoid doing the same mistakes. It was really hard for me to continue reading your post, one mistake action after another. I feel extremely sorry for this little hen who had do endure all this pain and suffering but chickens are some of the most abused animals in the planet anyway. Hence, I guess that you don't care if they live or die.
Providing just nesting material means nothing, you should provide health care, if you couldn't afford it you shouldn't adopt in the first place. In the near future when someone will get sick from cancer, don't go to the doctor because you will spend money and maybe the person will die anyway. is this what you are trying to tell to others?
It is the responsibility of each owner to take care of the animals. Period.
i feel sorry for the other animals that you may have in your possession if you continue acting like that. I am really disappointed by people as you.

Admin said...

Nina - Thank you for your comment. We definitely need more people like you in this world who are concerned about the well being of all animals. Thanks for that.

Just to clear something up, none of my chickens were adopted, they were purchased from either a feed store, or a farmer, with the intention of keeping them as a source of fresh eggs, or raising them until they are mature enough to process for meat. In my humble opinion, unless you are a strict vegan, this is the great circle of life.

I am a huge advocate for ensuring the meat I eat, and the dairy or eggs I consume, comes from animals who were raised humanely, allowed to participate in natural behavior such as grazing on pasture, and were ultimately processed with respect.

I do wish more people had as much concern as you do. Thanks.

terry layzell said...

please can anyone help one of my girls stopped lying then she sits down most of the day.she feels hot her vent seems to be trying to do something ,i cant feel an egg .i have given her a warm bath today and she seemed to be happier and wnt with the other girls. she is drinking and eating ,i am really worried now anyone have any ideas .thank you

DjalaKuchi said...

I have a story just like yours but mine seems to be having a happy ending (so far)!! My favorite, sweet hen Veertje had exactly the same symptoms yours did. This would be the third pet chicken in a year to die, if she did, and she is my favorite hen. I couldn't let her go. So I worked an extra shift, and took her to the vet. He diagnosed it as peritonitis, most probably caused by her reproductive system and egg laying, as she was a younger hen. (Other causes are cancer, genetic problems, etc.) I didn't have money for the surgery, so the vet gave me antibiotics to try 3x a day, and told me that she would have to be put down by the end of the week if she is not any better. It's been two days since I've been to the vet and she's loads better -- she's starting to eat and drink a bit again, and she's roaming the yard like she loves. Most expensive chicken ever, but worth it, I think. :)

Callie Smith said...

I found this blog when googling swollen bum lol anyway I have a 2yr old chicken who developed the swollen bum which felt hot and mushy 4 months ago, I took her to the vet who was very thorough inside and out, she couldn't find anything wrong except a little thickening inside and worms, she gave her anti-biotics and I wormed all of our chickens with flubenvet. She was very poorly, really off her feet for a few days though she remained alert, her comb bright red and eyes bright, we partitioned off a corner of the run for her with mesh so she could see the others but they couldn't knock her about. On the 5th day I went down and she was running at the mesh to get out to the rest. 3 weeks later it all started again so i got some more anti-biotics and wormed her again though we hadn't seen any worms and we had been keeping an eye out for them. again she was so poorly, off her feet but alert & bright eyed etc. It lasted 7 days and then she was running with the rest again, 3 weeks later the same. We are now on day 3 of her 4th time, she doesn't seem so bad this time, i haven't had to separate her yet from the others but reading this here sort of confirms what I was thinking, that she develops a problem when she becomes well enough to resume laying though why the vet can't find anything for £40 a go is beginning to wind me up.

Admin said...

Callie and DjalaKuchi thanks for your comments and the info you shared.

I think I have heard of a 'bird birth control' that would stop or slow a birds ability to reproduce and lay eggs. Of course if you're keeping this chicken for the benefit of eggs, this certainly would not be advantageous, but if this is a dear pet it could be worth asking your vet. I'm sure the cost is not cheap.

I have also heard for worms in chickens if you add a few capfuls of good quality apple cider vinegar (ACV), it will help keep parasites out. I add ACV fairly regularly to my chickens water as a preventative.

Just some thoughts. I really appreciate all of the input on this post and hope it is helping others who are struggling with diagnosing a sick chicken.

Texas Redneck Runner said...

Glad I came across you Blog. I have had chickens for around a year now and lost 4 out of 12 to strange symptoms that came on quick and ended in death within a few days. Not all at the same time... just one every few months. I have one girl that has always laid thin eggs and a lighter colored yolk, but seems in good health. Thinking back, I do recall an egg or two that was dropped off the perch and very under developed. Today I found one of her eggs (I know them by color and shell thinness) laying in the yard next to the watering bucket. This one is not only thin but somewhat deformed and very rough. I then realized that her eggs have been getting rougher and rougher over the last few weeks. So I too have been doing Google Research.... and this is something I came across which also might fit your symptoms:

And this concerns me for my flock....


Adam Grech said...

"I have to keep reminding myself it was just a chicken" - Wow, i really do not know how to respond to that. A Chicken has every right to live, breathe, eat, sleep and be on this planet as every other living creature.

I wake up daily to find my hens waiting at the sliding door to come out, so i can give them their mash, or treat. I clean out their coop daily, ridding their poop, checking for mites, lice, clean it properly on the weekend. I check each egg and i know who lays what (I have 5 hens, all laying, 3 ex batts)

The oldest ex batty, coco, had an issue a while ago. I went to work, and i start usually around 10am and she was still laying an egg, i thought ok, came home from work, usually give them a small amount of sunflower kernels she had a bit (Usually eats the most) and went back to the coop, this is where i noticed something wasnt right. I told my wife we had to bring her in and give her a bath, 30 mins later we dried her and she sat in my wifes lap, we put her in the cat carrier with some blankets and covered it and she slept in our room.

Next morning i woke up at 6 i couldnt stop thinking about her and even before bed shed some tears. I told work i might not be able to do all my work today and they were understanding. i let her out and she went to the coop but no go after an hour, I gave coco another bath around 9 and left her until about 9:40 she even slept for a bit. I then got a rubber glove, lubed it up and had a poke inside and felt something, she then flaped her wings and out came a broken egg.

I then put the tv on and sat there for quite sometime and she fell asleep on my lap while i was waiting for her to dry, about 30 or so mins later she decided that was enough, jumped down and went towards the door and ran to the coop. About 20 mins later she was out and about, i checked and saw another egg.

She didnt lay again for a few days and she didnt run, but i can only imagine she was hurting. Her appetite wasnt to great but every day she ate more and more until she was back to normal, running again, eating the most sunflower kernels. She still lays eggs but there is a part of me that wants her to stop, shes had a tough life before i got her and i have had her for 11 months and to me, i got the ex batts to give them a proper life, the eggs they give are secondary.

Everytime i look at her i smile, i look and see a full set of feathers, a bright red comb, etc. She, along with the rest of my girls are not "Just chickens"

All my girls are expert gardeners, who helped me prepare a veggie patch (It took a lot longer with them, but they had fun) and they eat bugs and spiders and roaches etc. One of my girls, Henny follows me around everywhere i go, no matter, and screams when i go back inside, i call her Hendog because she is so like a little dog.

Sure, having them lay eggs is a bonus, but they are pets, who are happy to see me no matter, and sometimes after a tough day, spending some time with them is a great remedy. There is no way i look at them as just chickens.

I lost one of my ex batts 2 months after we got her. We decided the best thing to do was put her down after a vet consultation. She had a hole in her chest which after thinking about it, seems to be caused by the other girls pecking her. I look back and she had a smaller hole in the neck a month before it. I used antiseptic daily until it got better but didnt think too much of it. When we put her down i was depressed, sad, angry for days, 9 months later i still beat myself up over it thinking if i looked at the first hole more seriously i could of seperated her from the others for a while etc, taken her to the vet then and got her checked.

Just a chicken. If this is your attitude, then i have to say, you do not deserve to have these friendly, giving creatures in your life.

Admin said...

Adam, thank you for this comment. I really appreciate your opinion on this topic.

Brew8537 said...

Well Adam, the OP obviously cares a lot about her chickens otherwise she wouldn't put a blog on here about the problems her chicken had. Saying she doesn't deserve chickens is uncalled for. You are right that they are good to help you relax after a stressful day. I love spending some time in the garden with the girls. They are entertaining.
One of my chickens had the same problem today. She was lethargic and just sat under the porch when I let them out of the coop instead of her normal scratching around the garden. I thought she was egg bound and was correct. We gave her some plain yoghurt and massaged her sides gently and she laid an egg within an hour thankfully. She then scratched around like she normally does. I did a bit of research and too much sodium in their diet can cause problems with them becoming egg bound. I never knew this before. She likes a bit of cheese but I won't be giving her anymore in the future. Will be trying some oyster shell which increases the calcium in their diet and can help with the egg shells.
Thanks for doing the post OP. Good luck with your girls.

Adopt an Ex Batt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adopt an Ex Batt said...

Suprelorin implant (virbac) stops chickens from laying and is the only known successful treatment for egg yolk peritonitis. One poster has already mentioned this and it is the only option for saving your hen. All vets have access to this as it is used in dogs, so no need to see an Avian Vet. The implant is injected into the breast or under the wing and after 7 days it is 100% effective and the chicken will stop laying. The implant comes in 6 months or 12 months duration. If you catch the egg yolk peritonitis late and your chicken is very swollen or having trouble breathing then you need to ask your vet to drain her. This requires the vet to insert a needle into the chickens abdomen, below her vent (avoiding the air sacs) and withdraw the fluid. A course of Metacam (anti inflammatory and pain relief) is advised and possibly a course of antibiotics following the draining of yolk material from the hen. Any remaining yolk material will be reabsorbed by the chicken after the implant is in effect. Following this, you will need to observe your chicken for telltale signs of the implant wearing off. Some chooks last longer on the implant and others shorter, but it works. I know that it is available in the UK and Australia and possibly even the USA by now. If you want to treat egg yolk peritonitis then this is your only option. Antibiotics on their own rarely work. I say this because I have 5 ex-battery girls on the implant some for more than 2 years and they were all diagnosed with egg yolk peritonitis by a qualified Avian Vet. They are still with me and enjoying the rest of their happy lives without the burden of laying daily or being plagued by the dreaded EYP.
NOTE Sorry I had to edit this and repost hence I deleted my original one.

James Clark said...

my brown leghorn is weak and can't walk but a few steps and sits back down, I think she hurts when she tries to walk, what can it be? I love her so and the other chicks are o.k. Please help James Clark

Admin said...

'Adopt an Ex Batt' thanks so much for this information. I have had such a hard time finding information about treating chickens online. So I really appreciate the value you have contributed to this conversation.

James Clark - I usually pick up my chicken if they are feeling ill, turn them on their back and see if I can feel the problem. The stomach area will be very swollen and squishy feeling if there is an infection. If it is not swollen, but you can feel an egg in there, you might try giving a warm bath to see if you can help her lay a stuck egg.

If she has a sour crop, you may see what looks like some throw-up come out of her mouth as you lay her on her back. This will cause lethargy as a common symptom.

Check her feet and legs for injury - chickens are prone to leg injuries, though I'm not that clear why.

If nothing else, add some apple cider vinegar to her water to help her with any sickness she may have. It seems to work miracles on my small farm.

A vet may be able to accurately diagnose your chicken if they treat small farm animals. Worth a try.

Bernie Corace said...

Helpful post, thank you.

I just put down our 4 year old R. Island red that was suffering from egg yolk peritonitis.

I am wondering if anyone knows if it safe to eat a chicken who with egg yolk peritonitis?

shaz zer said...

My hen died today in my arms but just a few minutes before she died she done a really horrible runny poop it was white pool then clear with green in it, she seemed as tho she was gaspin for air, she been poorly for a few days an was on antibiotics from the vet, they said it cud be egg peridotite or even now I've read Mareks but I'm not sure any body no what her cause of death was ? She wasn't eating or drinking much either, I would do post mortem if I knew how, thanks in advance xx

Liz said...

I find myself in the exact scenario that you describe here. Our beloved hen of four years has egg peritonitis, which I diagnosed only today. I did tons of research all day and compared the symptoms she's having with those of egg peritonitis. I keep having the thoughts of so many 'if only's.

If Only I'd been more vigilant when we stopped getting eggs from her...but she sometimes laid sporadically so it didn't occur to me until I realized just how long its been. If Only we hadn't suspected her of being only egg-bound and decided not to get her to the vet and that our nightly massages and calcium in her water would help.

Now I realize that it's too late and we're not in a position financially to get her all the treatment as described above. Her belly keeps getting more and more distended and I keep seeing egg yolk in her runny droppings. She's a Red Sex Link named Angel and has been such a delight and always laid the biggest and most beautiful eggs. I suppose that also could have contributed to this, the hugeness of her eggs. One of them was even double-yoked one time.

We hate to say goodbye to her, but my husband and I are going to put her out of her suffering very soon, probably tomorrow. She's part of our very first backyard flock of 6, and it's been such a learning experience with them. We will soon be down to only two left in our flock, and I must say that it's been the saddest of experiences, losing them one-by-one in various ways.

But the delight that they bring outweighs the sadness of losing them, and now that we know so much about how to care for them, we look forward to lots of success with another flock in the future. Now I know how important it truly is to monitor egg-production because that's such a vital indicator of the health of your hen.
I'm going to miss her in so many ways, and she is like a part of the family. I think I'm going to need therapy after losing her, but I'm so glad to be able to share our story here.

Admin said...

Liz, I'm sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I truly think it helps to hear others who are going through similar situations. We all live and learn together.

Vicky Mcdougall said...

Thank you for this its a its taken me a long time to find out what is wrong with my old lady till now I think it's only day's for her bless her so will make them good 1s :( thank you again

Kate Bull said...

What a brilliant informative post. Yesterday I had to get my beloved pekin bantam, Daisy put to sleep. I'm devastated. Vet seemed to think it was a virus...possibly infectious bronchitis. Daisy had been laying soft shelled eggs for just under two weeks. Thought it was just a blip. Anyway Wed night she was very lethargic, wings down, feathers puffed out, moving very slowly and her breathing looked laboured. Could not get her into the vets so made an appointment for thurs morning. Checked on Daisy on wed evening after they had put themselves to bed to discover she had laid a soft shelled egg but the shell wasn't intact around the yolk. She seemed alot perkier and on Fri morning she was back to normal. Unfortunately Fri evening Daisy was back to how she was wed evening and her breathing was laboured. My lovely vets squeezed her in Fri night....examined her and she took a turn for the worse at the vets. Daisy was put to sleep as I did not want her to suffer or be pumped with drugs that may or may not help her.

Does this sound like egg peritonitis to you? Or infectcious bronchitis like the vet said. She did not have any nasal discharge, coughing etc but not all chickens exhibit this.

Thanks for reading.

Got one pekin left so will have to make a very tough choice and rehome her.

Admin said...

Kate, Thanks for adding your story. It sounds like the decisions you had to make were in the best interest of Daisy, though they were tough decisions.

I'm just an amateur chicken keeper, but Daisy may have been egg bound to begin with if she did end up laying an egg and it provided temporary relief. Since she was laying thin shelled eggs, one may have broke inside of her which then turned into septic egg yolk peritonitis.

I have read that infectious bronchitis can cause a hen to lay thin shelled eggs, though I'm not sure why. But you are right that there are usually some respiratory signs of infection for this disease.

It is not uncommon for one disease to cause the next in a chicken. It could have been a combination of several things that lead to her health failing.

Sorry for your loss.

Zeitgeist said...

Thank you for your informative post and I'm sure many find this to be very helpful. Earlier today, I lost a sweet, angelic hen due to EYP and it was an experience which I'll remember for the rest of my life. I did everything I could, but EYP is truly deadly.
If I may, your last sentence on your post did not sit right with me. I am sure you take very good care of your chickens and are a responsible owner. However, please take some time and re-consider your perspective about chicken in general. They aren't " just chickens". These creatures are God's gift to us and we should treasure them sincerely and wholeheartedly, but not taking them for granted. Sure, I can purchase a dozen chicks for probably as little as under $40 these days, but that isn't the right mentality for us to keep. They deserve to be in a loving home where responsible owner, like yourself, will take great care of them, not just because they give us eggs, or meat (if you do consume meat). I have the same perspective as Adam above mentioned about chickens and I sincerely hope that you take sometime to re-consider your thoughts about chickens so that your next post, it would not be "they are just chickens".
Thank you.

Alois said...

Two weeks ago I noticed my favorite little red hen looking quite plump and ...

Patti said...

Thanks for this post and all the comments. I'm pretty sure EYP is what my hen Ida has as well. Your mention of the broken egg in the nesting box a few weeks ago was the final clue to me that what Ida has is EYP and not cancer - I noticed the same thing in our box a few weeks ago and just thought at the time that one of the hens had started pecking at the eggs.

Like many others in this thread, I've been thinking hard about taking her to a vet v. attempting to diagnose and treat based on internet research. In my case, I inherited Ida and 4 other hens when I moved into a new place, but now I am their primary caregiver and I have come to love them and, as one poster pointed out, whether humans love them or not, they have a right to have an opportunity to thrive like every other being. I think this is an important dialogue and I appreciate the comments I've read here.

I also wanted to share two practical things I haven't read elsewhere that seem to be helping Ida. One is adding rosewater to her warm bath - I use pure (human) food grade Bulgarian rosewater... the kind you would use if making a rose infusion for human consumption. Natural rosewater and some other essential oils have antiseptic qualities. I've given her a bath every day with 2-3 tablespoons of rosewater thrown in and her swollen abdomen has definitely become less red during that time. I don't know if it's because of the antiseptic aromatherapy bath or some other reason, but it certainly didn't harm her.

The other thing I've done is given her about 1/3 of a Naproxen anti-inflammatory every 8 hours... shaved off with a knife and mixed in with her water or yogurt. I probably manage to get half of the shavings into her so what she's consumed is about 1/6 of a pill every 8 hours. Again, I don't know for certain that this is the reason, but her swelling has definitely gone down since I started doing this.

It's too early to tell whether she's going to live. She was ever so slightly perkier today and actually ate without me having to spoon feed her. I am cautiously optimistic.

Helen P said...

Thank you, thank you all for your posts. We have had chickens for a little over a year now and reading this blog is very helpful in diagnosing one of the girls problems that we found tonight. We have our first girl that was sitting in a pile of yolk; broke my heart. I soaked her bottom to clean her off and we have her isolated to keep an eye on her overnight. She is not very happy about this. I will make her a nice breakfast in the morning and get her some plain yogurt. I will also try a little Naproxen in her yogurt tomorrow. Thanks again!

♥ Sarah said...

That cost for treatment for EYP is exorbitant. Seriously prevents anyone living within a budget being able to afford it. There is no reason why it should cost that much. If I could DIY it I would. I have a chicken with EYP right now. I gave her a bath last week in case she was egg bound, she laid a brittle egg and is pooing. I bring her in at night and give her a warm nest and during the day she is enjoying the breeze and sunshine and the company of her friends.
I would like to see some animal medications be more accessible.

tennisforever,houseworkwhenever said...

I had a chicken with exact same symptoms. Clearly had egg yolk coming from her vent. After bringing her inside and taking her to the vet, who said he didn't see any sign of infection or worms, I started her on duramycin antibiotics. Cheap and at your local farm supply...
Mix it into her drinking water. After about 48 hours of duramycin and moistened crumbles, she started to perk up. I placed her back outside with her buddies and she has completely recovered. (But has not layed any eggs since)
I firmly believe the duramycin turned her around. Worth a try! It has been a bout a month and a half now.

Unknown said...

I have lost one hen a Buff Orpinton to this. Her name was Buttercup. Her sister hen Lilly now seems to have it as well as another Buff Orp who is 6 months younger than they are. Does anyone here know if Buff Orp's are more prone to this than other breeds? I have 22 hens and these are the only one's that have had this happen. It is heartbreaking to not be able to prevent or cure this. My hens are between 14 and 17 months that have EYP at the moment. Any help is appreciated thanks. Jayne

Susan Sawyer said...

Thank you for your post! Very helpful. I have kept chickens for years and years, many breeds, and never saw this ailment or prolapse -- I got three Wyandotte pullets last fall, and first lost one to prolapse and now have one with EYP. I have also had to trim their vent feathers, since they had so much fluff they were getting messy. No more Wyandottes for me!


good articles

Unknown said...

Hi, I have had this twice with one of my chickens. She laid a shell-less egg then then shell the first time, then no egg the second time and no shell. I suspected it had gone in to her abdomen as is was distended. Both times I immediately started giving her oregano tea daily (1-2ml). This is a natural antibiotic. I did this for at least 5 days with a small 1 ml syringe (0.5ml at a time). The first time she got over it in 13 days, the second time I knew she was starting again as she tried to lay an egg. This time is has been two weeks. She has lost her appetite now but was eating. Her tummy swelling has gone down but she is only eating grass and bugs and water-melon. She is strong and wont let me feed her so it makes me think she has an upset stomach. This time the egg went in to her abdomen so I think she had to absorb it in to her body and her digestion may not have recovered.
Just to let you know I also gave her silica (homeopathy) the second time which helps expel any foreign bodies from the system and ferrum phos (for fever) as her face seemed really red.

Renee' La Viness said...

Kudos to Admin for a well-handled situation when an extremely rude person commented.

Thanks for this post. Like you, i read as much as I can to make sure I do the best for my babies that I am able to do. Asking when necessary, too.

Unknown said...

Thank you, your article was very helpful to me. Like you I have been trying to treat a sick hen for weeks now and arrived at both the conclusions you did. I have treated her for being egg bound, and I think to start with she was. I gave her a liberal dose of olive oil and warm baths and hey ho the egg popped out. She layed for a while then stopped again and now she is dribbling yolk and faeces from her vent and I think the end is nigh. Like you I cant justify vet costs for a likely poor outcome. I feel very sorry for her and wish I could speed her (inevitable) death but neither my husband nor I can can do the deed...........

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Amanda Castle said...

Did they mention mareks disease?

Miff said...

I had 2 Isa Browns for nearly 3 years for pets & both have been to the vets several times egg binding & last girl had to be euthanized egg peritonitis they are such sweet creatures no way could I let any suffer , now looking to add another 2 so as my old hen won't be lonely.

Joanna Blanchard said...

Wow, you are super gracious and way kinder than I would have been. Thanks for setting an example. Rare these days! Good for you.

Angela Bond said...

Thank you for your honesty. I so needed to read this article this week. I've been trying to determine what is wrong with our one hen for 2 weeks. Nothing seems to be helping her. The fact that chickens present the same symptoms for about 5 ailments is so stressful. My girl is curled up on the coop floor this morning, and I'm bawling because I know she isn't going to make it after all my hard work. It breaks my heart knowing that I couldn't help her. They our my pets and I love them, but like you I just can't justify spending money on a vet. I find comfort in knowing she knows she was loved.

Rawr rawrr said...

You are a huge C U Next Tuesday who has obviously never owned chickens! Go take your pretentious, vegan idiocy elsewhere. I've never read such an asinine post. I've had a hen who had Egg Yold Perotinitis, and I'LL HAVE YOU KNOW THERE ARE LITERALLY ZERO CURES FOR IT. Once a hen gets it, there is NO coming back from it. Would you have the owner spend hundreds of dollars taking it to a vet, who probably isn't versed in avian ailments anyway, for a TERMINAL condition as EYP? What the OP did is what you are SUPPOSED to do with EYP. I feel sorry for anyone who has to interact with your miserable self.

Unknown said...

Hi I'm having the same problem it's been 7 Days my hand will pack at food a little bit I've been keeping her in the bathtub on my days off I have been giving her Activia yogurt Pedialyte water and Drench she is still with us and I'm hoping that God will have some mercy on her because she's such a sweet girl

Suzette Lowie said...

My girl Brownie one of three hens is my best layer. I knew something was wrong when she poop a huge watery stool on me when she normal hops on my back when I been over. Brownie was embarrassed and made her ohhwhoo hum when she does something wrong.
That was five days ago and the last two she has been dolce walking slowly and her gut the part under her neck was large. I thought she ate a lot and that was normal look. Then she started hiding from me; not her normal always open wings and hops onto my lap asking for cuddle and massage. The last two days I touch her gut and it was filled with air and fluid and her vet was hard I massaged her and felt something rotating around and around but would dislodge. All the two other hens came and wanted a massage so I had a hilarious spa massage day; when it was truly a critical time for Brownie. I open the vent; not there is an upper and lower channel you have to feel to know. No soft egg? where is it, I can feel it on the massage exteriorly. I put her back in the laying box, feed an egg gave sugar water and wishing for the best. Next day the fluid was more; I tipped her head down to floor and tons of fluid vomited out of her beak...sour crop...
Her red crown then started getting blue on the tips and started becoming more dolce and closing eyes more. I massaged her and more pain then yesterday...she would not eat or take liquids.
I gave her the famous chicken sitz bath everyone mention; hair dryer dried her. I resorted to giving enema nutrition with sugar H2O with baby ASA, natural vitamin from 1400 till 2100 in intervals of 4 eye drops full. Brownie was revived her eyes wide open taking her chicken expressions and rubbed her head with crown against me. Though her gut neck was still swollen with fluid{ascities}. I read dandelion tea is a diuretic and with help her breathing. I took her out @ 0500AM this morning she look great no more ascities in her gut; normal but breathing with congestion. I Vaseline the tip of the container with dandelion tea and squirted in anal area. I working 12hour schedule so I hope she is doing well. I did leave her lots of water since the diuretic will cause dehydration. We will see; did see relieve the egg; did the ascites and breathing resolve, I am so worried I have a fever....
Minnhiia mother hen of Browine/ Adventure/ Timid

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Unknown said...

Beautiful !! I red this with tears in my eyes.I feel the same way with my baby's

CB said...

I lost my Mabel to this today, and I'm reading everyone's comments with tears flowing. I wish I had known earlier, but they are so good at hiding pain. She collapsed and died at the vets and I now wish I had asked him to put her down earlier. She was a really lovely hen, and I will miss her sweet little personality.

Best to everyone

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