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DrasticDreamer's avatar

Backyard chicken help? (Possible emergency)

Asked by DrasticDreamer (23988points) July 16th, 2015
18 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

One of the chickens has been behaving abnormally all day, and then when I walked into their enclosure I saw a yolk and egg white on the ground, but there was no shell anywhere. So to my horror, I realized it probably broke inside of her.

Can I attempt to remove it on my own, or is it an emergency vet visit?

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cookieman's avatar

I know nothing of chickens, but I’m thinking vet, stat.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I doubt that was it the yolk breaking in her. Give her a few hours and just watch her.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

Sounds like an animal stole some eggs. Chickens can act wonky if they’ve been through some type of trauma. Incidentally, you helped me find this site by asking this.

Coloma's avatar

Chicken and goose expert here. Do you feed your hens a good calcium enriched complete lay formula? If hens are calcium deficit they will fail to produce either the entire shell or very thing shells that break easily. It is not uncommon to see a yolk with the albumin only on occasion or a rubbery egg that is soft and squishy.

Keep an eye on her, if she seems lethargic is not eating/drinking you may want to take her to an avian vet but if she seems fine and resumes normal laying tomorrow or the next day ( they skip a day now and then ) ramp up the calcium & put out oyster shell as a supplement. You need a high quality laying formula available at all times. Hens can get what is called egg bound but this is usually when an extra large egg is too hard to pass, this also causes lethargy and you will notice the hen is not laying if you separate her from the flock. I would quarantine this bird in a crate for a few days and she if she resumes normal laying if all other systems seem go.

From she who is tube feeding a goose with a bacterial infection and shoving 10 antibiotic pills a day down her. haha She’s getting better after 4 trips to the vet last week.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Coloma We only have two chickens and the other one was roaming around outside of the enclosure when I noticed the yolk – which hadn’t been there on my prior trip inside the enclosure. The one that was behaving abnormally was next to it, and there was no shell anywhere. She was lethargic all day and didn’t want to move at all. Most of the time she was just standing or sitting in one spot. She wouldn’t eat treats and didn’t even want out of the enclosure, which she always get excited about every day. She was drinking, though. She also lays really, really small eggs a lot of the time.

I think we have a high quality laying formula. Would you know if it was good if I told you the name of it? We do have oyster shell out for them.

Called the vet and they were saying that sometimes even when the egg breaks inside of hens they can manage to pass it, so he told us to just put her back in the coop early (for the dark so she’d stop laying) and to keep checking on her. I’m fairly positive it did break in her. I definitely don’t want her to suffer and she didn’t seem okay earlier.

JLeslie's avatar

Please let us know how she is doing. I’m glad you called the vet. I think don’t hesitate to call the vet again if you have a bad gut feeling. Even if it is before the amount of time he told you to observe her.

Coloma's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Yes, that is possible, I’d say, being Friday, you might want to consider a vet visit before a weekend emergency, or, just play the wait and see game, depends if you can afford treatment, x-rays etc.
Chickens only lay once a day or every other, less as they get older. Is she a young or older hen?

Egg production reduces after the first couple years, an older hen might only lay one or two eggs a week instead of daily or near daily.
Keeping her in the dark a few extra hours might delay her next egg as hens need 14 hours of light a day to lay, why they drop off and stop laying in the late fall and winter months As long as you have her on a specific layer feed, regardless of brand ( unless it is super cheapo stuff ) that should be an adequate diet. Good luck, post an update

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Or you could just make soup or chicken and biscuits.

Coloma's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Also a broken egg that does not pass can cause peritonitis, a common cause of death from broken eggs or egg binding, which would account for her other symptoms. If she has a massive infection she needs antibiotics asap. Your vet should know.

LostInParadise's avatar

I don’t mean to seem cold hearted, but just how attached to a chicken can you get? We are not talking about a whole lot of intelligence as in a crow or a parrot. How much money is worth spending to take care of them?

Coloma's avatar

@LostInParadise It’s a personal thing, I have spent a lot of money on my beloved pet geese over the years as they live long lives, are highly intelligent, the dogs of the bird world but it depends on how attached one is to their pet chickens. I, personally, will spend the monies for maintenance care, worming, occasional antibiotics for parasitic infections etc. take in stool samples for testing ( as flock health is paramount when dealing with spreadable diseases, parasites ) but most of these needs are easily met OTC at your local feed store. I had one hen years ago that was a real character, followed me everywhere, sat on my shoulder and preferred sleeping in a wicker cat basket on top of my washing machine in the garage instead of with her flock in the coop. haha
‘Picnic” was a very intelligent little thing and brought great joy to us.

Strauss's avatar

@LostInParadise It’s what @Coloma said. But if that doesn’t make sense to you, just think of the money @DrasticDreamer is saving (or maybe even making!) on eggs .

JLeslie's avatar

Attachment? Intelligence? She is worried it’s suffering. I don’t need to be attached to an animal or person to worry that it’s suffering. We are all attached with empathy, aren’t we?

LostInParadise's avatar

I don;t want to make an issue of this. Certainly there is an obligation to relieve suffering, but at what cost? Suppose that it would require a $500 operation. You can accuse me of animal discrimination if you want, but the amount I would be willing to spend on a dog or parrot is much more than I would be willing to spend on a chicken.

wildpotato's avatar

Listen to @Coloma. I do have one further thought – she may be an egg eater. Mine eat their own eggs very occasionally, usually in the winter, if I miss a collection. They usually eat some and leave some. I take this as a sign they need more feed/calcium and give them more.

@LostInParadise Chickens are smarter than you think they are. Plus far more useful than an average dog or parrot – they give me eggs, so I owe them, is my thinking. You’re right I wouldn’t spend hundreds of dollars on any member of my flock, but I would take them to the vet at least and then go from there. Especially my current rooster, who I have seen defend the flock from foxes several times at this point. We haven’t lost a hen from our free-range flock yet. I owe him big time.

@Coloma What’s your preferred wormer? We got two new hens recently and neglected the quarantine procedure, and now my other girls have gone off their lay.

Coloma's avatar

@wildpotato Flubenvet is a good one.

Ideally though you should take in stool samples to be sure what you are treating for but this is a good, all around product.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you guys. We decided to watch her to see how she’d do since she’d behaved this way once before and was taken to the vet the previous time, but nothing seemed to be wrong. I don’t know if it’s a genetic thing with her sometimes, but she just seems to struggle with laying every once in a while. They do have good layer feed, oyster shells and they get to roam around quite a bit. Anyway, she seems okay now, but unfortunately I think it might happen again – since this was the second time.

@LostInParadise It’s a matter of suffering. No, hundreds of dollars couldn’t be spared to save her life, but after doing some reading about how much they can suffer, there’s no way I’d let any animal suffer that much. At the very least, if necessary, she’d be taken in and put down. And like @Coloma says, she has a huge personality. But regardless, I don’t like seeing any human or animal that’s needlessly suffering.

Coloma's avatar

@DrasticDreamer We are treating a goose right now for avian chlamydia. Symptoms were going off her feed, watery stools, weight loss. She is coming around after a major treatment session of Baytril and syringing her a high calorie gruel of her feed, pureed meal worms and greens. haha None of the other birds are showing symptoms so we think it was isolated with her and we caught it in time.

So many weird things can happen. She also has a nut or washer in her gizzard, so we are giving her metamucil per vet rec. to see if she can push it out. Geese and ducks are more prone to “hardware disease” picking up little items of metal but chickens can get metal toxicity from picking up metal items too. Scouring your yard for any bits of weirdness is a good idea too. Glad she’s doing well.

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