Monday, April 8, 2013

Prolapsed Vent (Cloaca) and Laying Problems in Hens



By Vicki -


A prolapsed vent on a laying hen occurs when there is degeneration to the muscular system responsible for laying - it is a form of herniation. There are a number of possible reasons a hen can develop a prolapsed vent; it can occur when the shell of eggs is not forming properly due to a lack of calcium. Soft shelled eggs are harder to pass through the oviduct and can cause this strain injury. Hens can also be more prone to this injury if they are being forced to continue laying beyond their natural laying cycle (by using lamps to force laying in the sorter days of winter). A hen may also have issues with her conformation that make her more prone to develop a prolapse (pinched tail, wry tail and other bone or muscular issues).

(Photo credit to armorfirelady)


 To help prevent a prolapsed vent:
1) Provide enough space for the hens to walk and scratch. This retains the muscle health of the hen.
2) Allow your flock to follow a natural laying cycle by not lighting the coop in the winter.
3) Provide a free-choice calcium supplement in its own container.
4) I have also read that common weed, Shepherds Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), provides a general boost to chicken health.
5) Provide a good diet.
6) Provide plenty of sunshine and fresh air.

However, if your chicken already has a prolapsed vent (signs: swollen red bottom, blood, egg oozing from cloaca, other hens pecking at her vent), you have to treat her. 

 (Photo credit to armorfirelady)

There are common and effective ways to treat your hen. The first step is to remove the hen from the flock to prevent cannibalization. Reduce the hens feed (or even don’t feed her for one day) to interrupt laying. This will give her a much needed break in laying. I never recommend adding lights to induce laying. If your birds are not laying there is a reason.

 (Photo credit to armorfirelady)

Effective herbal care:
Wash the protruding organ in lukewarm water and using a natural oil (linseed oil or sweet oil), gently press the vent back into the body. Repeat several times as needed. Then wipe the vent area with a cloth or cotton ball that has been soaked in witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).

Witch hazel is an astringent and anti-inflammatory that tightens skin, soothes, reduces swelling. It is used, among other things, to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids and bruises.


Effective non-herbal care:
Wash the protruding organ in lukewarm water and using petroleum jelly, gently press the vent back into the body. Repeat several times as needed. Then treat the vent area with a combination of Preparation H and antibiotic ointment. Preparation-H reduces the swelling tissue and allows the tissue to recede.

Continue these steps until the hen is healed. 

 (Photo credit to Bee)

In the event of a severe prolapse (if you truly do not wish to cull the bird), a purse suture to the cloaca may be needed. Contact your local veterinarian to find out if they can provide this procedure.  If it happens a second time, I personally would cull the as it will likely be a continuing problem for the life of the bird.

- Vicki


19 comments:

  1. Thank you, again, for a very helpful article!

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  2. Really good article! Thanks for the pictures too for us visual learners.

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  3. just lost my best hen to a nasty prolapse, she had laid and prolapsed but then the egg had got stuck too, what an afternoon, a lovely speckled lady, tried everything, but the dam thing kept popping out, in the end she was in a bad way, only knew it was a prolapse because of the visual pics, thanks for the info,

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  4. oh well we just had a silkie lay her first egg but unfortunately it didn't go well it has prolapsed,the egg was out suspended in membrane etc we managed to get the egg out and pop it back in again but the prolapse is making its way back out again!its been 3 days now and shes fine but im worried about further egg laying etc with her is there any way of stopping her from ever laying as we would rather she stayed a pet than an egg layer? and what if it never goes back in properly but she remains fine,i feel this is just a waiting game that I don't really want to play as im scarred every time I check incase it has happened again and we have to repeat it allover it just isn't fair on the bird x

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    Replies
    1. There is no way to prevent chickens from laying eggs that I am aware of.

      Have you tried Preparation-H? and the steps above? If not, please try that first. If it continues happening and you really don't want to cull this Silkie, you will need to take her to the vet and have a stitch put in to prevent the vent from prolapsing again. Look for "Avian Specialists" near you as many vets don't work on birds.

      Good luck with her!

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  5. Hey can anyone help me? I have a hen that haven't lay a egg over a year and she is 4 1/2years old. Her vent is hard an red also she having problem pooping. She have mites and she make a clicking noise in her beak i think.
    please help?

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    1. Many breeds of chickens do stop laying by 4 years of age, but if you don't plan on culling this hen, you do need to treat her for mites (wood ash rubbed in nice and deep beneath her feathers will do the trick) and treat any vent issues. Try Preparation-H and see if it helps. Otherwise, cull her if she seems to be suffering.

      For more information on getting rid of the mites, please see our "Article Index" page.

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  6. Interesting we have just had a chicken "come down" with this. We have been using a heat lamp to keep them warm at night, but after reading this I think we need to come up with another solution..

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    Replies
    1. Yes - unfortunately prolapses don't fix themselves. Best of luck with her!

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  7. Your site is very helpful. My 1.5 year old hen prolapsed after laying her second egg following her first molt. I gave her a bath and tried to push her vent back in, but it was too swollen. The vet cleaned the area with medical-grade dextrose and gave her .50 ml of Lupron, which is supposed to make her stop laying for a couple of weeks. The vet recommended that she sleep inside for about one week, but I take her outside for a few hours everyday because she was not eating while inside. For now, everything looks great. In the future, I will forgo a vet visit and just try pushing the vent back in myself with some lubricant and q-tips...now that I know how.

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    1. Yes, you can try helping her at home, but be aware that it is not a good sign for a hen to develop a prolapse at such a young age. Are her eggs huge? If not, take a close look at her diet. Too much fat around the vent area can cause issues with prolapse even if the eggs are a normal size. If she is carrying too much fat, try cutting out all scratch and sunflower seeds and feed only a 15% protein feed for a while. This tends to be a bigger problem in birds that don't free range on a daily basis as there are limited ways for a hen to exercise in a pen. Good luck and let us know how she does!

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  8. Our 3 year old Bantam Mille Fleur is having prolapse issues. She didn't lay at all last year and hardly anything before that, and now all of a sudden she is trying every day. It seems she eventually lays one egg every 3 days or so, once she can get it out, but all the while her prolapse is hanging out. I have done every treatment I can find, from Prep H to sugar, to calcium supplements, etc. This is just repeating every time. She doesn't seem to be in too much pain, she is eating and drinking...but is this something they can live with? I would hate to put her down, because she is such a happy bird. Any advice? Once she lays the egg, (there is usually a little blood on it) her prolapse goes back in. :( I tried warm baths, witch hazel, I am just at a loss.

    Thanks ,
    Lea

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  9. Lea - make sure none of your other chickens are pecking her prolapse. Chickens tend to be drawn to fleshy-looking parts and to blood. I suppose I would say that as long as you feel your hen is happy and otherwise healthy, wait and see. If she ever seems to be in pain or if the other chickens start pecking her... then it would be time to consider other options.
    Best of luck with her!
    Leigh

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  10. Thank you for your super fast response! I am watching her very closely. She seems to be ok for now, this goes away after laying, and then comes right back after a day, so I am hoping she stops soon. It's so weird to have a chicken start laying so late in life after never really being a layer at all. And she's so tiny too. Her eggs are good size but not overly large I don't think.

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  11. I need help getting the egg out of the vent. My pullet has laid a few eggs but had problems before but not a prolapse. As its past midnight and we have been bathing, lubricanting and giving lots of tlc to our hen we dont have witch hazel or haemorrhoid cream in the house so I've followed the steps and the vent is almost in. Ive then put her in a dark room in the house hoping she'll relax enough to lay the egg but I've a terrible feeling she can't get the egg out for whatever reason and will almost certainly prolapse again. How can l help her pass this egg??? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Many thanks
    Vicky

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    Replies
    1. Vicky - so sorry you're hen is having problems. At this point your best option may be to wait until morning and get some hemorrhoid cream or witch hazel. Are you certain she has not already laid the egg? Are you sure she is actually egg bound as well as prolapsed? Generally a prolapse occurs when they pass a large egg. She may have already passed the egg, and now you just need to get the swelling down.

      If you can fix the prolapse, give your hen a good once-over. Often it is over-weight hens that are susceptible to having this issue. If her breast is full and she is heavy, a diet would be a good option to help prolong her life. If she is not heavy, then please understand this could be a recurring thing for her, and continuous treatments may not be the most humane option.

      Best wishes and best of luck! I do hope she recovers to live happily ever after!

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  12. Just lost my Australorpe to this a few hours ago. Been trying since Saturday with no luck staying back in .Read somewhere to hold in place for at least 5 minutes and it worked. Poor thing was so tired she fell asleep and started snoring. She then woke up startled so I held her close and she passed in my arms. Guessing it was shock/trauma.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry for your loss! You did all you could for her. Sometimes a bird's medical issues are insurmountable.
      :(

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    2. I am sorry to hear that also. I have only had one BA. She was a great layer for the first season, but just after molt last year she got what appeared to be "internal laying" or one of the similar issues and just wouldn't get better. She was the first and only bird I've ever had any major health issues with and she had to be euthanized - though we waited much longer than we should have.

      I have heard that BAs tend to have this kind of problem from other people as well. I'm sure you did everything you could for her.

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