Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Little Scare, Relieved Outcome

It was bound to happen: egg bound that is.

We were both quite amazed and perplexed that BB our littlest pullet, a Chantecler (very rare Canadian breed) would be the first to lay. Granted, her eggs have been pretty small, but golly SHE is very small. How has she been fitting those suckers in her little body much less through her vent (cloaca)?
The last few eggs she laid had noticeable marks on them, kind of scrapes almost. I believe these marks may have been made as the egg was forming (eggs go through a process of layers before they get the outer hard shell). After laying two of these strangely marked eggs, she skipped a day. Towards the end of her second day without eggs I noticed her hiding in the back of the coop in the dark. This isn't good. Her back was also all fluffed up with her tail tucked in. Also not good. I had a feeling these were signs of being egg bound and hopped online for some research. Sure enough I hypothesis seemed correct.  Other symptoms of egg binding can include:
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Swelling
  • Constipation
  • Fluffed up feathers
  • Straining
  • Inability to perch
  • Swaying back and forth
  • Lack of balance
  • Sitting on the floor of the coop
Egg binding is not uncommon, especially in young hens, but it is very dangerous.
Upon further research it became obvious to me that i had to intervene, and NOW. So i did what any good chicken mama would do: donned my surgical gloves, grabbed the KY Jelly and a needless syringe. And okay, it wasn't pretty, but with the help of my faithful husband holding the scared little bird, encouraged her to be still, gently lifted her tail feathers and found the source of the problem. No egg tip could be seen, no egg could be felt in her little body, but i filled the syringe with some KY and gently got some lube inside her cloaca. This was very very strange looking, I'll spare you the details. But please, all chicken mamas: do not be afraid, your chicken baby needs you to do this if she's in trouble despite not seeming to love the rude insertion of gooey fluids into her sacred orifice.

We were heartened when she decided it was time to try and get up on the perch with her other lady friends. She succeeded at the leap and was able to balance just fine.

Result of this scary incident: Upon this morning's coop check i found below where she'd been perched: A broken, thin shelled, almost soft like a lizard egg in places egg. The yolk was perfectly developed, but it sure looked like this egg was awfully big to be coming out of this awfully small chicken. I am very very happy and relieved. Glad my intervention may have helped her, now let us cross our fingers that she and the rest of the ladies have no more difficulties.

Do you keep chickens? Have you ever had an egg-bound hen? How did you address the situation and what were the results?

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